July 21, 2012

[Apparently I need to spell this out as it isn’t clear: This blog post is not about Wiggins, who won both TTs in dominating fashion and would have done so in other apparel as well. I thought that was pretty clear but apparently it’s not, so I hope we’re clear now]

In the first TT, Wiggins used a yellow Adidas TT suit with seams and cuts that were designed for an aerodynamic advantage. At least that’s what several Sky people said. This was odd for two reasons:

  1. Classification leaders are normally required to use the TT suits provided by the race organizer. I know riders have wanted to use their own suits before but as far as I know, this has never been allowed. Now it was.
  2. Designing features solely for their aerodynamic benefit is not really allowed according to the UCI rules, although the rules are vague in this particular case.

Then some strange things happened:

  1. The UCI came out and said they had approved the Sky suit months ago, and that the seams were just seams and not aerodynamic improvements. Note that this is contrary to what Sky themselves claim, and one wonders how the UCI tested whether or not these seams work.
  2. Then the UCI said that they would review the suit Wiggins used in the TT to make sure it was still the same as the one they reviewed and approved months ago. But they didn’t rip the suit off of Wiggins at the finish of the TT. No, they simply asked if Sky could send them a suit whenever it suited them (no pun intended). This is very odd, how does the UCI know that Sky will send the suit Wiggins wore? If Wiggins indeed used a different suit from the one that was approved (which is the hypothesis that the UCI is presumably trying to test), they would be crazy to send the actual non-approved suit. Imagine if drug testing worked like this, where we would just ask the to send in their pee samples whenever convenient.
  3. Then in the last TT, Wiggins didn’t use the same suit as in the first TT. It was either a different Adidas suit or the standard Tour de France suit (with Adidas stripes). If the original Adidas suit was legal, why change? If it wasn’t, then what does that mean for the first TT?

I’m not sure what the full story is, but I am pretty sure it won’t go anywhere. Once again Sky’s special status will be confirmed.

Lots of blog posts coming up this week, to receive them automatically subscribe here.

[edited bullet 3 at 17:58]

34 Responses to “un-suit-able”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    All marketing stuff.
    Wiggins could ride TT in normal Clothes and would win with same time difference.

  2. British Cycling/Team Sky discuss all their new equipment with UCI many months before events like Olympics/TDF.

    However I agree with the comment above

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Obviously it turns out the official suit is just as fast

    • That’s what I thought too

      • oli roberts Says:

        I’m pretty sure that the suit used in the second TT wasn’t the official suit (though it may have had the official suit’s sleeves grafted onto it from what I can tell from the photos). The ‘unusual’ seam arrangement on the sides of the torso and on the trailing side of the outside of the thigh that were on the first TT’s skinsuit were present on the suit used in the Chartres TT.

        To reverse the discussion a bit, though, why shouldn’t a GC leader be allowed to ride in a specially designed suit rather than the official event suits? The standard event suits are clearly less aerodynamic, so they’d potentially be giving up an advantage that was still available to the other teams (see especially the Garmin suit for seam arrangement and fabric variation on the front of the arms) if they did use them.

        • I’m not against riders using their own suit, it’s the fairest solution. It avoids situations where the Tour sponsor is also a team sponsor, and hence some riders could get a very well-fitted suit and others not. For example, when Nike sponsored both the Tour and Armstrong, the latter obviously had a perfect custom-made suit for his time trials in yellow). An Adidas-sponsored rider in yellow would have had a more standard Nike suit. Even if the technology would have been the same, the fit wouldn’t (couldn’t) have been.

  4. Will Taylor Says:

    The temperature today was, 8 degrees warmer than the previous TT, other than that and the known fact that Wiggins overheated in the first TT (hence loss of visor) opted for the thinner suit this time

  5. Pave Says:

    Regardless of what suit he wore, a huge kudos to Wiggins for a crushing performance in both TT’s and in the Tour in general.

  6. John S Says:

    Allow all teams to produce suits that meet UCI and event organiser parameters. Have suits checked prior (as per published requirements) and collected, as desired, a la doping controls (with suitable replacement clothing to change into :) ).

  7. The dirty euro Says:

    I’m just glad there’s someone atlas bringing these issues up whether they are true or not. Too much behind the scenes nonsense goes on in cycling and the uci. Thank you Gerard for your observations. Cycling still has cheats and needs people like you for checks and balances or at least trying.

  8. Mike P. Says:

    this is not apropos, but kudos to Mark Cavendish for honoring the rainbow jersey by finishing both the Giro and Tour, even though he has hurt his Olympic preparation by doing so.

    • Kudos for sure, although I don’t think he has hurt his Olympic preparations. There’s no way GB Cycling would risk Olympic success just for Cav to finish the Tour.

      I’m sure it’s part of the plan, and given that they wanted him to lose weight and become stronger, I’m not sure there is a better way to achieve both than to finish two Grand Tours.

      Of course, if he wins, it’s because of the two GTs, if he doesn’t, it’s also because of the two GTs, punditry works like that.

      • Klaus Says:

        So that was special Training when he was Back at the Car for Bottles for the Team.

      • Joe Papp Says:

        I’ll agree w/ you 100% on this, Gerard (given my lack of access to actual factual knowledge in case of Cav’). There’s very little out there that compares w/ racing a long, multi-day race for changing body composition and developing phenomenal endurance while improving climbing (if you’re a sprinter) – besides EPO and HGH, I mean. Key thing now: can Cav’ recover fully/sufficiently and yet still show up to the Olympic road race firing on all-cylinders, w/o the dreaded sensation of being “blocked,” (which I don’t know how to explain in physiological terms…)?

  9. JoePa Says:

    I think the UCI has a laughable track-record of managing (or better said, failing to manage) the technology of the sport fairly and rationally, so my bias is to automatically discount the validity of anything they say, and always suspect ulterior motives or a cover-up.

  10. CML Says:

    Look at the paneling, it’s a Team Sky issue suit that are said to give 2 seconds per km. It’s very different the Dauphine time trial suit either so I doubt its Tour issue.
    Fair play to Sky for pushing the marginal gains and its hardly as ridiculous as the Schlecks wearing inflated Camelbaks under their suits or the bat wing design of Garmin a few years back. Innovation like this is pushing the sport forward, cyclists wore baggy merinos until someone thought it through.

    Wiggins didn’t overheat in the previous TT, he lost his visor in the wind. See his Twitter feed.

    British Cycling love their tech – wonder if they’ve kept anything back for the Olympic TT and road race.

  11. Evan Shaw Says:

    Much Ado About Nothing Have you all read the history of Team Sky and the whole secret development plan in which many of the thousands even millions of pounds spent on aero items turned out to be totally ZERO, that is right zero. They have admitted spending egregious amounts on the helmet and its only advantage is a placebo one, i.e., we spent so much it must make us faster. Same for the suit. Have you all seen the hype about the olympic swim suits? Turns out that the famous speedo suit was NO better and when they turned it inside out it was marginally faster. Very insignificantly marginally.

    So why did Wiggions and Froome have the NON aero water bottles and cages on the down tube?
    Gerard they should have learned from Cervelo don’t you think?

    • Well, I think as with all organisations, Sky is advanced in some areas and not so much in others. But that still puts it way ahead of most of its competitors.

      It’s interesting how some people now seem to think that Sky has optimized EVERYTHING, that every move is deliberate. Listening to TV commentary nowadays, it is quite funny:

      “He uses a round water bottle”
      “Sky must have tested that as being the fastest”

      “Wiggins is speeding up in the second half”
      “Sky must have calculated exactly where he should shift from the 13 into the 12”

      I am still looking for the scientific explanation of the sideburns though.

  12. MJHsurfin Says:

    Still remember Wiggin’s “Poo-Face” on the podium at the Critérium du Dauphiné when he won yellow “a day too early” ie: before the next days TT – rumors were it was because he then had to wear the “official” yellow TT suit & not his own Sky one. Then had dramas over Small vs Large sizes etc. Wonder if all this lead to the new ruling that he could wear his own in TDF ?? (ASO sponser both events…)

    If the Sky one didn’t make a difference, why the sour faces & tantrums ??

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I think everyone needs to stop trying to MAKE issues and just admit this tour was boring as hell!

  14. Mike Watt Says:

    This tour sucked. Literally. Wiggins sucked his stronger teammates wheels all the way to the end.

    Give his teammates the credit for this win.

    Nibali, Valverde, Froome, TJ, Sagan, they were the only liveliness to a rather dull English win.

  15. Mike Watt Says:

    Oh, and don’t forget Tommy V! My vote for heart!

  16. Anonymous Says:

    O look a English man about to win the Tour….Lets find how he has cheated. Pathetic pal.

  17. Mick Says:

    The seam placement in Wiggins TT suit is reminiscent of what Spyder skiwear was doing in their DH ski suits in the late 90’s (Speedwyre)… US skiers had a string of victories in numerous speed events, and FIS put an end to that…
    (Upon the banning in skiing, Spyder briefly investigated use in cycling & triathlon, but lost interest in a market that wasn’t their specialty)

    The suit Wiggins wore in the final TT was T d’F issue…dead giveaway is the white sublimation panels on the thighs & chest.

    I suspect, Sky, decided to play it safe with the suit …ie. don’t attract any more attention to it at this point …Maybe it will reappear in London…

  18. Rumours abound that suit 1 had a micro engine in the seam and the standard suit had one in the stripes. Cheating.

  19. I still think the entire rule saying “Designing features solely for their aerodynamic benefit is not really allowed according to the UCI rules, although the rules are vague in this particular case.” Is obviously garbage and only applied when they want to case in point is the “aero” TT helmets same with aero covers for helmets , shoes etc.

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