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I was watching Stage 1 of the tour and the commentators said that it was 'risky' for Cav to wear a skin suit.

As far as I'm aware, the benefits of a skinsuit are that it's lighter and more aero.

The downsides are that there's no storage for gels/bars. However, surely he can get gels/bars from other riders in the team.

Are there other downsides I'm not aware of? Why is it risky?

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The risk is that if he doesn't win, it'll make him look like a bit of a berk. –  Dan Hulme Jul 1 '13 at 8:30
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Do not underestimate the downside of no storage, being without food can be catastrophic in multi-hour races, and if team mates are not able to help out (you get into a break, or team mates crash), you run out of options, and energy. –  Andrew Lowe Jul 4 '13 at 8:12
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Also storage can be for extra gear, like a jacket if it rains, arm warmers if cold... –  Andrew Lowe Jul 4 '13 at 8:14
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@AndrewLowe - you're absolutely right, so says a guy from team Belkin/Blanco/Rabo –  PeteH Jul 11 '13 at 20:29
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I saw this question a couple of weeks ago and was interested in it, I have just got back from spending 2 nights at the Tour de France where I happened to stay in the same hotel as one of the teams. So I asked one of them.

I'm afraid it has absolutely nothing to do with protection, or with ventilation. In fact you hit upon the disadvantage of a skinsuit in your question - they do not have pockets. Not having gels/food becomes important in a 4-5 hour race.

In fact, even despite this disadvantage, you will on occasion see riders (normally specialist sprinters) wearing skinsuits in a stage, especially one where there the finish is expected to be a bunch sprint. Under such circumstances it becomes the responsibility of a poor old domestique to carry food and gels on behalf of the sprinter. (Heck, I even saw a spectator wearing one!)

So I would guess that the risk mentioned by the commentator is just that the domestique isn't close enough to the sprinter when they need nutrition.

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A skin suit provides no protection in a crash. They are very tight and the material will transmit the gravel, etc. to the skin for the very short amount of time before it rips. If you do rip it due to a crash, you will likely need to change kit as a small rip in a skin suit will keep ripping and the tightness of the suit will pull the material away (think a ballon popping, just not quite as dramatic).

Skin suits are also less able to vent so overheating could be an issue.

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Most the high end kit is so thin now (for ventilation) that is no crash protection no matter the form factor. –  Rider_X Jul 26 '13 at 4:51
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