The only complaint that we've had about Castelli's inclement weather cycling gear is that the women's models often come out a generation after the men's. That's not the case with the all-new Potenza Women's Jersey, though. We get the same wind-resistance, thermal insulation, high breathability, and water-resistance as the men do, but we get it without the wait time. We can't say the same for the professionals, though--Castelli tells us that many of them have asked for a team-branded version but, for now, the Potenza joins sub-15lb bikes and disc brakes as consumer-exclusive items. In an ever-expanding sea of options, the specific recommended uses for long-sleeve jerseys and jackets can become a confusing mess of overlapping claims. The Potenza simplifies this: It's like a thermal jersey+, adding an element of wind protection that breathes far better than truly windproof membranes. As Castelli puts it, the Potenza is "perfect for those spring and fall rides where you need insulation from the crisp, cool air, but you're not ready for a sweat fest inside a jacket." The women's Potenza consists entirely of a single fabric, Polartec's Power Stretch fleece, that's laid-out in a women-specific fit. Given Castelli's penchant for targeted constructions comprising multiple fabrics at strategic locations throughout the jersey, this relatively short ingredients list gave us pause. We found ourselves reflexively scanning the spec sheet for the inevitable "stretch inserts" that are often credited with compensating for the lack of breathability and inconsistent stretch-and-return properties of most foul-weather fabrics. We never found them because they aren't needed. Power Stretch breathes, wicks, and stretches more like a base layer than an outer layer, but its densely woven knit and hard-face finish give it the durability and wind-resistance of a light jacket. When hit with a DWR treatment, the result is a top that blurs the gap between thermal jerseys and winter jackets by...
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