While Fillipo Ganna is odds-on favourite to win the first yellow jersey of this year’s Tour de France, his Ineos Grenadiers team are leaving nothing to chance.
The 25-year-old world time trial champion will take to the stage one start ramp in Copenhagen decked out in a custom designed Bioracer time trial suit that the Belgian brand describes as “supersonic”. The new suit will form part of an equipment trifecta that includes a redesigned Pinarello Bolide TT bike and a streamlined Kask helmet. All the Italian has to do is supply the legs.
The skinsuit is the product of over 300 hours of dedicated testing. Bioracer has the luxury of its own wind tunnel at its Bike Valley facility in Beringen, Belgium, which it used in conjunction with testing facilities at both the Polytechnic University in Milan, Italy and the Stavanger University in Norway.
The resulting suit, Bioracer believes, will help form part of the “fastest configuration” possible, with winning the Tour’s opening time trial, and with it the maillot jaune, the only goal.
A singular purpose requires an equally focussed approach and it appears that Bioracer is leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of ITT glory. The suit’s fabric is not only designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, but also as supportive.
“A good time trial suit forces the body into a compact posture with inwardly curved shoulders to minimise the frontal area,” Bioracer explains. In other words, it’s created a fabric that it says will help Ganna maintain the aerodynamic position he’s spent so long perfecting.
Each Grenadier will have a suit custom made to their body and their requirements. Ganna’s suit that he’ll wear on Friday’s 13.2km ITT features a front zipper and forgoes the leg grippers, both of which he finds more comfortable. Elsewhere the suit’s seams are strategically placed and are taped and welded as opposed to stitched. Both help avoid what Bioracer describes as “the smallest turbulence” which can adversely affect the suit’s aerodynamics.
Time trialing has long been a petri dish for marginal gains, with the microscope used to examine the results often viewed behind closed doors. Bioracer, despite plenty of transparency, has chosen to maintain tradition by creating a little intrigue of its own. Smooth fabric has been applied to the back and the sleeves of Ganna’s skinsuit, contrary to what you often see in the peloton. The reason for this however “cannot be disclosed.”
With the Grand Départ now only days away, Bioracer are maintaining focus. It will have a mobile Protolab on the ground in Denmark, where Ineos riders, from Ganna to Geraint Thomas, can go to have their kit tweaked for “optimal comfort without loss of performance.”
While these last-minute adjustments no doubt bring the riders peace of mind ahead of the year’s biggest race, the skin suit they’ll be wearing is rooted in the tried and the tested, Bioracer’s Katana suit to be exact that was designed for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In that race Tom Dumoulin wore the suit on his way to silver behind Primož Roglič.
Ganna, Ineos and Bioracer will hope to go one better this Friday.
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.
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