Team Sky replace controversial 'vortex' skinsuit with new design for Tour de France team time trial

New skinsuit designed for higher speeds of a team time trial

Team Sky will use a new skinsuit in the Tour de France team time trial
(Image credit: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)

One year after Team Sky created controversy with their vortex skinsuits, they race with a new one in the Tour de France 2018 team time trial around Cholet.

Chris Froome and his seven team-mates will wear Castelli's new Body Paint 4.2b Speedsuit. The Italian brand designed it specifically for fast speeds near 60kph like the riders will hit today on the 35.5km course west of the centre.

"It's faster for a course like this, the profile of a team time trial suits this kit," Steve Smith, brand manager for Castelli, told Cycling Weekly.

"When the riders are going over 60K an hour, this is the better suit – the one you want."

>>> Teams give insight into what to expect from crucial Tour de France team time trial

Fans with a sharp eye may have caught a glimpse of the coming change in the Giro time trials. Castelli already provided Froome a prototype, a mix between the vortex suit – the TT Suit 4.0 – with patches of pimples for better airflow and the new body paint.

"We were already working on it last year at the Tour de France's Marseille time trail," Smith said. "It's 11-plus months in the making. We were using computer modelling and everything to get to this point."

Sky used the vortex skinsuit in the 2017 Giro d'Italia, but it went under the radar. Not until the 2017 Tour, with their new white kit design and strong opening day ride, did it gather attention.

Team FDJ and others complained to the UCI over the pimples, saying it was added material. This year, the UCI blocked the use of Speed Gel with tiny white balls after Lotto-Soudal used it in the Critérium du Dauphiné team time trial.

Sky, however, could race with its vortex suit. Smith said that avoiding controversy was not the reason that they designed a new kit, but that speed was their main concern.

"The pimpled suit conformed to the rules," Smith said. "The pimples were woven in the suit, and Movistar's skinsuit had them on the top.

"This time, though, we ran it by [UCI manager of rquipment] Jean-Christophe Péraud on Wednesday before the Tour. He said, it's great and thank you. So no controversy this year."

>>> Tour de France 2018 stage three team time trial stage order

Péraud and the UCI are due to release more specific rules for 2019 on kit design. Either way, the Body Paint 4.2b Speedsuit should not attract much attention.

"It hardly looks that special from the naked eye," explained Smith. "There's nothing that jumps out, but just the way it's constructed, the stitching, the use of fabrics... we did multiple custom fits for each rider."

Team Sky is the second team of 22 to roll down the ramp in Cholet on Monday. They start at 15:15 local time, just after Mitchelton-Scott with Adam Yates.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.