When Johan Van Summeren and Fabian Cancellara staged their famous pursuit match in the final kilometers of Paris-Roubaix on a hot, dusty, dry April day in Hell, the Belgian had something special on his side against the Swiss powerhouse – a critical piece of kit that might have been the difference between sweet cobble kissing victory and a late catch by the dominant force on the pave this spring – the Castelli Sanremo Speedsuit.
It’s a heady claim, but Castelli’s ingeniously designed short/jersey combo slash skinsuit is claimed to save a rider significant time: 10-15 watts at 40 km/h. With a rapidly emptying rear tire, following a huge effort in the break, Van Summeren was certainly not hindered by his choice of clothing on the day.
Look at the numbers: wearing the Speedsuit, Van Summeren attacked with 15km to go. With Castelli’s proposed savings of 15 watts at 40 km/h, that could have indeed been the difference. Assuming he rode at 400 watts (a big assumption, but just play along) the suit gave him an extra 0.37 mph, and saved him roughly 12 seconds over that distance.
He won by 19 seconds. without Speedsuit, that would have left only seven seconds, and who knows what would have been possible had Cancellara gotten that close. Take out that final 15 kilometers and remember that the race was 260 kilometers long… There’s little doubt it played a role. We can debate on just how much all day. The point is: it’s much faster than the typical jersey and shorts, and faster than an aero jersey/short combo as well.
For a company like Castelli, which has made its name as a company devoted to innovation, the flow of ideas can come from any direction – success, failure, other sports, outside sources, a random comment, there is no source too small or insignificant. The origin of the new SanRemo Speedsuit can be traced to man with absolutely no background in cycling.
The Idea: An Unlikely Source
The evolution of the Speedsuit had been a number of years in the making when Van Summeren stormed to victory in the Roubaix velodrome. In fact, it can be traced all the way back to Heinrich Haussler’s heartbreaking loss by centimeters to Mark Cavendish in Sanremo just over two years earlier.
Cavendish famously overhauled Haussler with a desperate bike throw, and as Haussler crumpled to the ground after the line, the people at Castelli immediately wondered: is there something we could have done that would made up for those lost centimeters?