With the weather forecast suggesting showers are likely between now and Sunday’s Tour of Flanders and rain on the start line in De Panne today, here’s a quick look at an item of pro kit that’s not often featured: the rain bag.
This is a small bag belonging to each rider containing the clothing they need on a rainy day. It’s packed into the team car and can be brought out in case of rainy weather. The pro cyclist’s version of an umbrella.
I’ve struggled to find readily available photos but the photo above is a camera-phone pic from Liquigas-Cannondale’s young fastman Elia Viviani taken from the Three Days of De Panne. You can see luggage in his name but separated into different bags and one of these is going in the team car for the race.
Each rider has their own suitcase for a race with their clothing and personal effects, plus there’s some common “stock” of team kit. But riders have particular items for a rainy day. It depends on the team and the rider but here’s what you’ll often find inside:
- rain jacket
- arm warmers and knee warmers
- spare shoes, perhaps an older and dirtier pair
The idea is that a rider can drop back to the team car and pick up the supplies they need, either for themselves or for their team mates. Jackets, gloves and shoes are all individual to a rider and they need these spares in the team car, just as the team car carries spare wheels and oil. Often the bag will include spare items, for example a dry pair of gloves.
Some riders hate riding in the rain, some dislike it, some try to profit from it knowing that others hate it more than you do. Few tend to enjoy riding in the rain but at this time of year it is part of the job. Having warm and dry clothes on hand is essential.