In 2011, Johan Van Summeren stood on the start line of Paris-Roubaix while the peloton looked on and laughed. The 198cm tall Belgian was wearing a skinsuit for possibly the toughest one day race on the cycling calendar. Skinsuits had traditionally been reserved for Time Trials, their principal purpose to save valuable seconds as a rider races against the clock.
258km later and Van Summeren stood on the podium with a cobble raised above his head. Not only had he won himself a monument, but he had also changed the face of cycling apparel in the peloton going forward. The Castelli SanRemo Speedsuit was born.
The main stumbling blocks faced during the 10 rounds of sampling were that skinsuits traditionally had no rear pockets and riders were unable to take a ‘natural break’ while wearing one. Castelli set about removing these problems which would allow them to introduce their concept to the road racing scene. Castelli knew that if they could overcome these hurdles then they could save their riders 15 watts at 40km/ph.
The Speedsuit comprises of the Aero Jersey & The Body Paint Bib Short. The aero jersey is stitched three quarters of the way around the waist and attached to the BodyPaint short. The development of the SpeedSuit yielded a couple of unforeseen, but welcome improvements. First, as the jersey holds up the shorts, we’ve eliminated the bib straps and thereby increased the comfort. Second, with the construction of the front opening and full-length zipper, the rider can fully open the jersey to completely expose the chest. Of course, that’s nothing too outrageous in comparison to a typical full-zip jersey, but with the Castelli SpeedSuit, the sides don’t flap around like a normal jersey, giving an aero advantage even while maximizing cooling on a long hot road stage. Finally, the construction of the suit holds the three rear pockets more securely than a standard jersey, so when the jersey is loaded up with bottles, jackets, food, and anything else you can jam in there (and trust me, you can fit a lot in those pockets) – the carried items are better anchored, so they don’t move around.
Johan Van Summeren won the race by 9′ from Fabian Cancellara which doesn’t sound too great seeing as we’ve just raved about the skinsuit. However, when you consider that he rode the last 5km of the race on a flat tyre it somehow puts it all into context.