There was a lot of Lycra left when, in March 2019, British billionaire Sir James Ratcliffe purchased the Team Sky cycling franchise and renamed the professional team in honor of its petrochemical group Ineos.
There was another glut of obsolete cycling clothing earlier this year when Team Ineos morphed into Ineos Grenadiers team align with Ratcliffe’s new SUV, which goes into production next year.
With 29 professional riders on the payroll of Team Ineos Grenadiers – the company behind the team achieved a turnover of 51 million euros in 2019, making it double the size of its next biggest rival – it’s twice in a short time a whole bunch of team-branded jerseys, cycling shorts and vests became overnight.
What are professional cycling teams doing with all that high-end but suddenly outdated kit? Many now sell it at ProOwnedCycling, a Danish start-up which, in fact, recycles bicycle clothing; bicycle clothing worn by or supplied to professional cyclists and never worn.
“Some teams used to have end-of-season sales, but they aren’t set up for when a customer later needs to change an M for an L, or if someone needs a refund.” said Oscar Bjørn-Rosager, who started ProOwnedCycling in partnership with Danish rider Casper Pedersen in 2015. (Pedersen left the company to go pro – in October the The Team Sunweb rider won the 114th edition of the Paris – Tours cycling classic.)
“Others give the clothes to the staff, but it’s just more clothes lying around in a pile at home, probably unused,” said Bjørn-Rosager, 23.
“The staff can no longer be seen in public with him because his kit is dated.”
ProOwnedCycling sells second-hand, almost new and unopened clothing from many of the world’s best-known cycling teams. An unworn Team Ineos 2019 long-sleeved cycling jersey from famous Italian manufacturer Castelli costs a lot less than in stores, but it’s in last year’s colors and doesn’t have the Grenadier logo.
Maybe it wasn’t in the stores at all. Most of the clothing available on ProOwnedCycling.com is team gear, not consumer level replica kits, which can often be simplified when sold off the shelf.
This is fine for those who want the best in performance gear – as long as you don’t worry about old sponsor logos or dated colors – but there’s a catch: you need to have the body to also. a pro. Think skinny.
“A lot of amateur riders wouldn’t fit in these clothes,” admitted Bjørn-Rosager.
“These are not replicas of clothing – this is a kit designed for the best athletes in the world, often tailor-made to fit a rider.”
ProOwnedCycling.com offers painfully truthful size charts and videos explaining to customers the often limited size choices – professionals wear their kit tight, so even tall riders can wear kid-sized swimsuits.
Fat side and still want to ride a pro level kit? ProOwnedCycling stocks clothing that is not so tight and tiny, such as shoe covers, cuffs, and helmets.
“Some teams also make clothes for the rolling support staff, so sometimes we have XL and XXL kits,” Bjørn-Rosager suggested, “but it’s still unusual to see larger sizes on our website.”
The site also sells high-end bikes, usually paired with the pro riders they were built for. Again, it depends on the size: if you are looking for the 2018 Pinarello Dogma K10 from Ian Stannard’s Team-Sky brand for € 3,749 – “has scratches on the down tube, seat post, chainstays. – you should also be able to 189cm bike frame designed to fit the exact dimensions of this long-haired British rider.
Unless you’re a collector and don’t need the bike to fit.
“Our best client is a Chris Froome fan,” said Bjørn-Rosager.
“Every time we get a bike with Froome’s name, that customer buys it.”
Some collectors also buy clothes and often specify that the clothes they want to buy should be stained with sweat or even a little dirty.
“A guy in Portugal was a big fan of Danish champion Chris Anker Sørensen, and we were asked not to wash his jersey. [The fan] was happy to pay extra, ”smiled Bjørn-Rosager.
“We have other fans who are asking that the drivers’ jerseys not only be washed, but that they always have race numbers attached. It’s complex, but we can often do it. ”
Other things to note include the – most certainly sweaty – helmet that Luxembourg pro rider Andy Schleck wore for at least part of the 2010 Tour de France when he came second behind Spanish rider Alberto Contador. “Come on Andy! Go go! ”Was written on the helmet in indelible ink. (Two years later, after Contador was convicted of a doping offense, Schleck was awarded the winner’s yellow jersey.)
ProOwnedClothing is run by Bjørn-Rosager and his childhood friend Casper Hillstrøm.
The online store started as a Facebook group in 2015, becoming a stand-alone site the following year. In 2017, the fledgling company sold € 12,000 worth of Lycra leftovers. At the end of this year, a large order propelled the company forward, and by mid-2018, ProOwnedClothing was selling to customers in 40 countries.
It now has ten employees. In 2018, the company attracted investment from Sune Sand, the former IT manager of the international maritime group Maersk, who now works for the Danish green energy company Ørsted.
ProOwnedClothing moved from tiny premises to a breezy building outside of Copenhagen with the investment.
The company has washing machines and bagging equipment to wash and pack its used and almost new clothes.
In addition to the Lycra Riding Kit, ProOwnedClothing also sells hoodies, t-shirts and pants that are not worn and not performing.
“We started making money in 2019,” Bjørn-Rosager said, and the company has lucrative deals with teams like Mitchelton Scott, Team Dimension Data, Israel Cycling Academy (now known as Israel StartUp Nation, and owned by Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams) and women’s team Virtu Cycling.
Like many other bike companies, ProOwnedClothing has had a good pandemic. ProOwnedClothing’s hike started in April, with the company benefiting from European lockdowns.
“When the stores in Italy and Spain closed their doors, we were still open [in Denmark], just like the logistics companies so that we can ship cycling components, bikes and clothing when customers couldn’t even get them delivered to local stores, ”said Bjørn-Rosager.
Sales remained strong and unlike some brands of bikes, ProOwnedClothing was able to provide bikes in stock.
“We buy all professional bikes in advance, which means we have them in stock, ready to ship,” said Bjørn-Rosager.
“Many bicycle dealers still offer four to five week delivery slots, if they have stock we can ship the bikes immediately.”
ProOwnedCycling’s next growth opportunity, Bjørn-Rosager predicts, is to persuade cycling teams to create casual football-style clothing. Fans of Premiership football teams wear replica shirts as their everyday clothing. Some teams even design exterior stripes to look great not on the pitch, but in the pub, paired with jeans.
“It is not common for a cycling fan to wear their favorite team’s casual clothes as they are generally not commercially available,” said Bjørn-Rosager.
“In partnership with the teams, we want to change this.”