What's Cool In Road Cycling

Science In Sport: Joining The Pro Tour

Apart from the three big sponsors; Saunier Duval, Prodir and Scott, there’s a whole clutch of other sponsors involved in a Pro Tour team like this. Many of these are predictable – like SRAM, Ritchey, Time, Polar, Fi’zi:k, Castelli and Coke. There are even some zany ones, like Gilberto Simoni’s buddy’s clothes shop, Angel Devil, but there was one logo which caught my eye – Science in Sport (SIS) nutritional products.

If you’re reading this in the USA, chances are you’ve never heard of SIS. But you may be familiar with the names Chris Boardman, David Millar, Alexandre Vinokourov, Team CSC, and Saunier Duval-Prodir – all of whom swear on the benefits of SIS products.

Peter was on hand at the Saunier Duval-Prodir camp in Spain to make sure everyone received their fair share of SIS rations.

SIS is a relatively small English outfit making sports nutrition products since the early 1990’s and have established themselves in the UK and are growing in Europe. Although not yet widely available in North America, goods purchased at their website can be shipped anywhere in the world (usually in 3-4 days). At time of writing, discussions with potential US distributors were underway.

Even CSC’s Bjarne Riis says: “For us, working together with Science in Sport means that will be using the most scientifically advanced products on the market for races, recovery and training. We look forward to be going into competition with these products…”

So how come the Pro Tour connection? I caught up with company co-founder, Peter Slater at the Saunier Duval-Prodir winter camp to get the low-down.

SIS adds to Saunier Duval-Prodir’s already impressive sponsorship roster.

Pez: Tell us a little about Science in Sport, Pete.

Peter: It all started back in 1991 when we began to give nutrition talks to local amateur sportsmen around the Manchester area in England. Chris Boardman was emerging as a star back then and we started to organize the manufacture of nutrition products to help him for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona – where he won the pursuit title. In 1994 we took the plunge and started making the products ourselves. Since then the product range has grown in variety and sophistication.

Pez: Give us a ‘for instance’ on the products.

PETER: Take our Rego recovery drink; it’s been designed to provide rapidly absorbed protein and carbohydrate, together with a structured dose of vitamins and minerals so it helps rapidly rebuild and repair muscles after effort.
I had the guys taking that today after training and they all liked it.

Gels, bars, drinks for energy and recovery – SIS presents a full line of nutritional products.

Pez: So how did the Saunier tie-in happen?

PETER: It’s pretty-much down to David Millar, when he was a skinny kid going to France at 18 we received a request to help him with sports nutrition. That relationship continued right through into his Cofidis days although it was his sister we dealt with, I didn’t actually meet David until 2003. He likes and believes in the product and has always given us good word of mouth recommendation. We were just about to get involved in a high-profile advertising campaign with him when ’l’affaire Cofidis’ broke.

Pez: So when he signed at Saunier he got back in touch?

PETER: I got an email just before the Tour asking for enough products to take him to Paris – drinks, bars and gels. Other riders in the squad started to beg our stuff off him and really liked it; Piepoli is a fan of our gels for instance. David and Mauro Gianetti talked about things and I received an email before Xmas from one of David’s management team asking if we would be interested in supplying the team’s nutrition products,

Pez: What sort of commitment do you have to make?

PETER: The approximate retail value of the product we supply would be around 60,000 euros, plus we have to provide some cash. I explained to Mauro that we’re not a big company so we couldn’t pump-in fortunes, so it’s not a huge amount.

Pez: It’s a great opportunity for you to break into Europe.

PETER: Of course, David’s our biggest ambassador, he’s already back winning big races and we were talking today about a larger than life graphic of him on the team bus drinking from one of our bottles. The potential in Europe is huge.

SIS bar flavours include apple & black currant, banana, and chocolate & orange.

Pez: How are the riders taking to the product?

PETER: At Manchester track they have ‘Revolution’ meetings where they bring stars over from the continent, at a recent one they had Gilberto Simoni riding, when he saw me he was delighted because he had lost my business card and needed to stock-up on drinks and bars, I had to go away and get product for him there and then – he swears by it.

Peter with SIS-sponsored track star Victoria Pendleton.

Pez: I hate to mention it, but what about the ‘D’ word?

PETER: That’s why we made the decision in 1994 to manufacture our own product, because so many people who record positive dope tests go on to blame their nutrition supplier. There is nothing that comes in through the doors of our lab that would record a positive, our procurement policies are extremely strict so riders can take the product with complete peace of mind.

(Unfortunately I forgot to ask Pete if he manufactured any slimming products suitable for old journalists.)

See ‘em online at ScienceInSport.com

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