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Tour Tech 2011: Garmin-Cervélo's aero waterproof +video

Castelli's new stretchy jersey keeps the rain out

Team Garmin-Cervélo are riding this year’s Tour de France with an innovative new waterproof from Italian clothing brand Castelli.

The team, including first-week yellow jersey wearer Thor Hushovd, have been using the Gabba WS Rain Jersey which Castelli reckon is nearly as aerodynamic as the normal dry-weather Garmin-Cervélo race kit. The guys at Castelli’s UK distributor, Saddleback, have been telling us about this design for a while now and they think it’s a real game changer for racers.

Right, so you know how most rain jackets flap in the wind when you’re moving fast? Or, even if they don’t flap, there are usually rucks and creases all over the place. They never sit as smoothly as a stretchy jersey. That all causes extra drag and slows you down, or you have to use a little bit more energy to maintain your speed.

The Gabba, in contrast, is very stretchy. It’s made from a new 4-way stretch Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric developed by Castelli and WL Gore so it fits closely. Castelli reckon it’s so breathable that you can keep the jersey closed up without overheating; and keeping it closed up is the best option in terms of aerodynamics.

Unusually, the Gabba is short sleeved and it’s designed to be used alongside Castelli’s Nanoflex water-repellent arm warmers. Those arm warmers aren’t 100% waterproof but they have a treatment that encourages the water to bounce off. Castelli call it a ‘5 phase miraculous nanotechnology treatment’. ‘Miraculous’ is strong, surely. We’ve actually got these arm warmers in on test at the moment, along with the matching knee warmers, so we’ll let you know how we get on with them soon.

The idea for the Gabba came from Cervélo Test Team rider Gabriel Rasch a couple of years ago at a focus group concentrating on improving clothing for cold and wet conditions. The trouble was, the existing fabrics were either not stretchy enough or not breathable enough, hence Castelli’s need to work with Gore on the new fabric. Rasch’s nickname is Gabba, hence the products eventual name.

The Gabba jersey is designed for racing when it’s raining and not especially cold, so don’t expect it to be suitable for the winter commute into the office. It will be available from September although we don’t yet have a price for you.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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