Video: Making of a USA Pro Challenge race leader’s jersey

Crew from Pearl Izumi walk us through the on-site sublimation process

Apparel Video


The team from Pearl Izumi have just minutes to crank out the day’s podium jerseys so they are ready for the post-stage presentation.

From the moment racers cross the finish line, Don Meyer and Brent Smith have just a matter of minutes to crank out the leader’s jerseys worn on the awards podium at the USA Pro Challenge.

Each day at the stage race in Colorado that wrapped up last Sunday, the duo from Pearl Izumi were tasked with creating 12 new tops, six long-sleeve podium kits and six more race jerseys to be worn during the next day’s stage.

To make this all happen as smoothly as possible, Meyer and Smith are set up in the green room behind the stage, the same place the riders congregate before heading out for their moment in the proverbial sun. This close proximately helps assure all sizing is correct, as well as confirm who will be wearing which jersey both on the podium and the next day.

“We brought about 350 jerseys between podium and on-bike,” explained Meyer, Pearl Izumi’s sports marketing manager. “That means multiple colors and multiple sizes. Plus we have about 1500 printed graphics that includes all the teams in the race. Those took us about two days to print.”


Meyer and Smith brought about 350 jerseys, plus 1500 pieces of printed transfer paper.

It might sound chaotic, but to the outsider it looks like a smooth running operation, not surprising considering this is Pearl Izumi’s fourth year as the race’s jersey sponsor.

“Each jersey must be hit front and back,” explains Smith, who runs the sublimation press and is Pearl Izumi’s custom systems manager. “We also warm the fabric before we start, which allows the sublimation paper to lay down and not curl. Then we place the paper down and it’s about 385 degrees for 45 seconds. The allows the die from the paper to fully impregnates the fibers of the jersey. These are not screen prints, the die is in the material. It’s the same process that a jersey goes through when we make the panels before sewing.”

Check out the video below to see the process in action during stage 3 of this year’s race, which started in Gunnison and concluded with Tejay van Garderen taking over the race lead at the end of the uphill finish at the Monarch Mountain Ski Resort. Van Garderen never relented that advantage, winning his second straight USA Pro Challenge overall title in the process.

The crew from Pearl Izumi walk us through the process of making podium and on-bike leader’s jerseys at the USA Pro Challenge WorldTour stage race in Colorado.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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