This morning, we received an email about the Castelli SpeedSuit that Johan Van Summeren wore to his Paris-Roubaix victory on Sunday. In part, it reads,
Castelli invented the first skinsuit for road racing. The upper part is essentially a full zip aero jersey with an improved fit and a new fabric on the shoulders to further enhance aerodynamics. The new and improved aero jersey is then stitched three quarters of the way around the waist to our BodyPaint bibshort. The front of the short/jersey is overlapped allowing the rider to relieve themselves on-the-fly.
The suit has all the aero advantage Castelli had hoped for. The biggest problem area with a standard aero jersey (a category invented by Castelli by the way) is in the side panels that rider’s can never get to really lay completely flat. The SpeedSuit solves this longtime problem and holds the side panels in tension, making an area that was once a weakness now extremely aero.
It will soon be available through the Castelli Servizio Corse Teamwear custom program, and in Castelli Summer colors for 2012.
It’s interesting for a few reasons – it appears to be the first time that a skinsuit has been sensibly adapted for road racing. Be it as recently as Sky’s experiments with flashy but pocketless skinsuits for shorter races, or as far back as 1984 – which, as Alexi Grewal pointed out, saw Davis Phinney’s single-pocket adapted-skinsuit leave him ill-prepared for a long, hot road race – riders and teams have sought the comfort and aerodynamic advantages of a skinsuit. The tradeoffs are the difficulty balancing carrying capacity and aerodynamics, and, not unlike as many women who’ve ridden in bib shorts will attest, the difficulty of relieving one’s self wearing a full-coverage garment.
Castelli appears to have addressed both of these issues; it will be interesting to see if other teams’ clothing sponsors respond with similar ways of creatively developing a road-racing skinsuit.
I'm one of the guys at Castelli that has been working on this speedsuit since the beginning. It's still in a prototype stage and got used for the first time in competition at Milano-Sanremo. Van Summeren's suit is still a prototype as we're flushing out some of the complicated details of making it fit right around the middle since the front part is open with the upper jersey portion overlapping the lower short portion so that you have access to your junk like with a normal shorts/jersey set-up. When you wear it, the feeling is really like a TT speedsuit, but not quite as restricting due to being cut so short in the front like we do on our TT suits.
But we don't expect other team's clothing sponsors to respond as we have two patents pending on the suit. But amateur teams will be able to get it once we get through testing on Garmin-CervÃ©lo.
Thanks for the extra info, Steve!