With temperatures soaring in the UK we speak to Tom Austen, founder and managing director of Pelotan - British Cycling’s Official Sun Protection Supplier, about why their product is designed specifically for cyclists, is unique in the market and how to get the best protection from it.
Why did you decide to develop Pelotan?
I’m a keen cyclist and, whether cycling in the summer in the UK or abroad on training camps, I kept burning on rides. I knew this wasn’t good for my longterm skin health as well as my short term recovery and ability to ride comfortably the following day. I just couldn’t find a product that, as a cyclist, met my needs and so I decided to develop one.
Can you describe the R&D process?
The key thing was asking cyclists and triathletes of all levels, from World Tour pros to amateurs, what they wanted from a sun protection product. We then took this list of demands to chemists and dermatologists and started to find out how we’d go about developing it. We did a lot of product testing with athletes, getting their feedback on a number of iterations and then brought it to market.
What are the key features that make it particularly suited to cycling?
For cycling you have to have a product that’s lightweight and allows your skin to breathe effectively. A traditional suncream that forms a thick impenetrable layer is fine if you’re just sitting on the beach but, if you’re working hard on the bike, your skin has to be able to breathe, sweat and do its job of regulating your temperature. Pelotan binds around the pores and this means your skin can function as if the product wasn’t there. The best feedback we get is when athletes tell us they forgot they were wearing it.
Pelotan is sweat and water resistant. Again, as it binds to the skin around your pores, you can sweat freely but the product won’t be washed away by sweating. We also tested it in the rain which, over the course of a long ride in the British summer, is a definite consideration! For triathletes, it’ll survive the swim and then protect you through your bike and run.
UVA and UVB are the two main light sources from the sun. UVA is responsible for longterm skin damage and ageing and UVB causes sunburn. The SPF Factor that you see on suncreams only refers to UVB and that product might not give any protection against UVA. Pelotan offers broad spectrum protection, meaning that it offers protection to both UVA and UVB equally.
Pelotan will protect you for the duration of a long ride. In order to be able to describe it and a “once a day” product we had to go through vigorous EU testing to prove that the protection it delivered after 8 hours was proportionally similar to when first applied. If you’re riding longer than 8 hours, chapeau! You need to be sensible though when using any “once a day” product. Listen to your body and be aware of the conditions.
All of the above in combination is what makes Pelotan unique on the market.
There’s also the pocket sized 50ml roll-on.
Yes, we developed that in response to feedback. Sometimes you just feel as though you need a top up, maybe on the back of your neck and we wanted to create a portable jersey pocked sized product. Talking to pros, a spray just doesn’t work if you’re riding or outdoors, it goes everywhere apart from where you want. It’s the same formula as the regular Pelotan but also has a gelling agent so it rolls on continuously like an anti-perspirant. The pros love it as they can get it from the team car, apply it quickly, easily and accurately and, as you don’t have to rub it in, not get sticky hands.
Can you give us a bullet point how-to for getting the best protection from Pelotan?
Put the product on 15 minutes before leaving the house as this gives it a chance to bind with your skin properly.
Roll-up your jersey sleeves and bib shorts and spray liberally. This is essential, you have to apply a decent amount, 30 ml, to get optimal protection.
Apply to all exposed areas paying particular attention to the back of your neck, ears, temples and back of your knees.
If it’s a long ride and the UV forecast is high, pop a roll-on in your back pocket as an insurance policy. You probably won’t need it but it’s good to have.
For more advice on riding safe in the sun, check out our Sun Advice and Best Practice Guidelines.