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Smugglers meet Castelli


It is Friday, April 14th, and I am here to welcome the seven members of the Smugglers team to our company. They traveled in a van from Belgium to Italy all day Thursday just to spend a few days with us. I will only be with them on Friday morning and for lunch. They want to ride, but I am not a cyclist yet. So, for the rest of the days, I will hand them over to some of my colleagues who will ride with them on the exciting gravel paths of our Veneto area. Despite the short time we will share, I want to give them an unforgettable experience. So, as planned, the day begins with what I call the "custom jersey" tour, which is a tour where I guide them through the stages of making their own custom jersey. They came here for this too: to see the creation of their jersey and then wear it for some outdoor photos and videos. From my point of view, I have to admit that I really like the graphics and colors, and I would gladly wear it too, if I were a cyclist.

To start the "custom jersey" tour, we enter the custom team's office, where our designers show how the jersey is designed using graphic programs. Tjorven starts taking photos and videos. It's only the first step of the tour, but they are already very enthusiastic. We move to the plotter printing office.



In the plotter printing office, the various parts of the jersey are printed on enormous sheets. At this point, the curiosity of the guys starts to emerge and they ask me their first questions. How long does it take to print the graphics on a jersey? Do you need one print for each jersey? They also ask me if they can keep a print and take it with them to Belgium. I answer yes. I immediately understand that from that moment on they would ask me to bring home anything they saw during the tour. They are already eager to see the graphic printed on the fabric. After all, so far they have seen "just paper". But they won't have to wait long. We move to another part of the company where a colleague of mine shows them how the various pieces of the jersey on paper and fabric are cut with a special machine. Here they see for the first time the white fabric, on which the graphic will be printed.

We go to the printing room where Anna and Barbara, two of my colleagues, are waiting to show them what I think is the most "wow" part of the tour, namely the printing of the graphic on the fabric. After positioning the pieces of white fabric correctly and precisely over the sheet with the drawn outlines of the jersey, Anna and Barbara push the panel inside the printer, starting the process. 50 seconds of waiting and the panel comes out. Anna and Barbara start pulling the pieces of fabric slowly and, as if by magic, the graphics and colors of the jersey also transfer to the fabric. At that point, they kindly allow the guys to do the same by pulling some pieces of fabric. They are enthusiastic and almost incredulous to see this extraordinary step. They look like children playing with their favorite toy! Their expression is almost comparable to that of children when they enter the factory in the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with Johnny Depp from 2005. I am as excited as they are, also because it is only the third time I have seen the realization of the process and it is always so interesting.


We leave the printing room taking with us all the parts to be assembled. Another colleague of mine is waiting for us to sew everything together. It is the last step of the tour and I see the guys a bit dejected. They ask me, "Is it already over?" They had so much fun that they would like to do it again right away. It's been almost an hour and a half, yet it seems like only 5 minutes have passed.

After sewing, the jersey is completed. They take some photos together with their amazing jersey. I invite them to have a coffee, they accept more than willingly. Then I suggest taking some photos in the product office with the mannequin wearing the jersey. It is noon and it is time to accompany them to the store, where we will have lunch together. But before lunch, we take a tour of the store so they can make some small purchases. They ask me if it is possible to put the jersey on one of the mannequins to take some photos there too. Kindly, the saleswoman Silvia allows us this opportunity and replaces the kit, including the shorts, on the mannequin. After taking photos and making purchases, we move to the store's bar to eat.

It was a real pleasure for me to have met them, to have shared the entire morning with them and to have taken them around the company. They are wonderful people whom I hope to see again soon for a new tour together, perhaps by bike next time.


After the tour with Edoardo, we took the boys to take some pictures of the new kit in the Castelli playground.

Saturday Gravel Ride

The following day the boys rode with Steve, Castelli's brand manager, and Giovanni, a colleague of mine from the marketing office.  Their day began with a cappuccino at the café and a briefing on the ride of the day.

They rode the first 60 kilometers of the Veneto Gravel route from Bassano del Grappa up to the Berici hills, a gravel event that takes place in Italy every year. The route is characterized by many single tracks, trails, gravel roads along the banks of the rivers and some stretches of cycle path.

After a short lunch break the boys returned to Bassano following a trail prepared by Steve for the ride.

The day ended with a beer (actually more than one) in a pub in Bassano.


what the smugglers had to say about their visit

ERWIN:  During our trip to Castelli headquarters it became clear to me why it is such a good match between us. We both want to give our customers or participants the best possible experience, by providing a product that is more than worth its money the price becomes secondary. We try to add something extra to our events or clothing piece every time. Not to do ourselves better than the rest but to deliver the best version of ourselves and our products.

LUC:  The trip was short but a great experience. Because of the rain and snow at the Brenner Pass, we were discouraged in the first place. When we arrived in Feltre, our spirits changed and our spirits began to lift after a 13-hour trip. The next day we received a warm welcome at the Castelli headquarters. During the tour we fell from one surprise to another ... the enthusiasm of the employees, how labor-intensive the production is, etc. This also showed why quality has its price. The combination of Flagship Store and lunch was top-notch. The podcast was fun and got its own story, the infamous button, and a second recording. Then the photo shoot with the golden hour was a wonderful experience to dust over the gravel roads as the Chauffeur of the photographer.  The gravel ride with Steve from Bassano del Grappa, a beautiful town, was a great experience, with beautiful scenery and a very varied course. For me, the trip as a driver with the Smugglers gang was something I wouldn't have wanted to miss. It was a short but great experience thanks to Smugglers and Castelli (both Italy and Benelux).

GROUP ANSWER:  We were received so friendly and warm as if we knew each other for a longer time. The custom tour was great, to see it all behind the scenes. Also to visit the Flagship Store felt like we were kids in a candy store. We will rarely wear something else than Castelli from now on. The group ride with Steve and Giovanni was top-notch. An experience nobody will ever forget, the first week after our trip was so hard to focus back on working. It felt like an awesome short holiday. The only negative thing we experienced was that it was way too short haha ;) A couple of us are aiming to ride the 2025 Veneto Gravel.

Article by: Edoardo Lazzarotto
Images: Tjorven Vermeiren and Giovanni Lira
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