It took nearly seven hours for John Degenkolb to take victory in last Sunday's Milan-San Remo, and with much of the race taking place in heavy rain, we take a look at some of the clothing and equipment the pros used to cope with the conditions.
The 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo was perhaps less memorable for Gerald Ciolek’s surprise victory, more for the fact that heavy snow forced the peloton onto the team buses to drive them down to the coast, cutting out 54km of the race course.
That day saw the emergence of the Castelli Gabba as the garment of choice for wet and cold weather racing, with many riders ditching their clothing sponsor in favour of the Italian super-jersey. 2015 might not have been quite as epic, but we were still interested to see what we could learn from the pros’ choices of wet weather clothing…
Given that the first 240 or so kilometres of Milan-San Remo are generally conducted as a warm-up for the frenetic finale, many of the riders opted for some of the more bombproof clothing their sponsors’ had to offer, even if this wasn’t the most aerodynamic options available.
Andre Greipel was certainly well prepared for the conditions on the start line, kitted out in Vermarc’s Extreme Rain Jacket, hardly the most aerodynamix piece of clothing, as you can see from the photo above, while eventual winner John Degenkolb opted for the similar Urepel jacket from Giant-Alpecin‘s clothing supplier Etxeondo.
Cannondale-Garmin and MTN-Qhubeka were the two Castelli sponsored teams in the race, and while the Gabba jersey was still a popular choice, many of the riders chose to wear the new Tempesta rain jacket over the top for the early stages of the race. The water-resistant Nanoflex arm warmers and knee warmers were also very popular.
With so few companies offering this sort of water resistant warmer, a number of riders were forced to abandon their official clothing suppliers in search of warm and dry arms and legs. Vincenzo Nibali was one to go completely off piste with his clothing choices, with a combination of Sportful NoRain arm warmers, Nalini Crossandra leg warmers, and Assos rain bootie overshoes.
Nibali was also one of many riders to make use of a lightweight detachable mudguard in an attmept to keep his backside dry on the long slog to the coast from Milan, although we’re not sure whether this is an original Ass Saver model, or a special design from Astana sponsors Specialized or FSA.
Despite all the high-tech options on offer from Team Sky clothing sponsor Rapha, housewife’s favourite Bernie Eisel opted to go old-school with merino wool gloves, combined with a Winter Collar to cover his neck and face, shunning the neoprene gloves that were chosen by most of his fellow riders
Aero helmets have become pretty much ubiquitous in the professional peloton over the last few years, with Degenkolb sprinting to victory on the Via Roma in a prototype model from Giant. However on a day such as this, the solid shell designs would surely have been welcomed for their ability to keep the rain and cold wind at bay, even if plenty of riders still opted to pair this with a classic cotton cap.
Of course, the team leaders didn’t want to be all wrapped up come the finale, so it was a hard day for the domestiques ferrying excess clothing back to the team cars. Alex Dowsett was one such helper, with the Essex man’s pockets filled here with what we expect is Alejandro Valverde’s cast-offs.