This is the time of year when the pro teams release their new jersey’s for the coming season. Given the lack of racing news the cycling media often give these announcements more air time than their design merits which can leave you a little underwhelmed by a subtle pantone change, a new co-sponsor jammed onto the chest or the baffling reversal of sponsor and sub-sponsor (Saxo-Tinkoff, Tinkoff-Saxo anyone?)
However, every now and again a team designs a jersey that has a little more too it than just being a lycra billboard for a bunch of brands you never really heard of. Probably a bank. No I think it’s an energy drink. Wait, a flooring company? Oh, right. In other words, a jersey you might actually wear.
We feel a little uncomfortable riding in team kits at KOMRAID – feels like turning up to play five a side in a current Real Madrid kit but, from a purely design perspective, we like to apply the acid test to new kits, namely, could it become a classic in 10 years time and would we then wear it?
With this in mind we have had a think about the jersey’s we remember watching racing round Europe this century, mentally erased the horrific abominations (Polti, Kelme, Casino etc) and from the rest selected what we think managed to rise to the top, style wise. This is purely subjective and we’ve probably forgotten a couple of classics but see what you think.
It’s either awful or amazing. Maybe both. We’re going with the latter. Apparently Mapei made building materials so we’re not quite sure why the livery looked like an explosion in a lego factory – maybe it’s hard to make cement sexy. The kit had a number of iterations over the years but we figure go large or go home so have selected the wackiest of the lot - the 2002 vintage.
Chosen separately but we placed them next to our Mapei choice to remind ourselves what Italian style normally looks like. Clean, understated, sexy. This kit, with it’s minimal logo’s and simple design just whispers class. Actually we reckon you would know this was a Bianchi kit without any logos at all, so closely associated are the company with the colour celeste. We also love the subtle nod to the Bianchi kit from the 1960’s. Of course, it helped that the team were blessed to have a skinny, tanned Jan Ulrich at the height of his considerable powers nearly toppling Armstrong and gracing the jersey for ever on Google images. Dreamy.
HTC High Road 2011
The German-US team that rose from the ashes of Telekom/T-Mobile became a sprint train powerhouse working for a young Mark Cavendish. They had several versions of their kit as sponsors rotated in and out over a few years including the rather gladiatorial 2009 design that deliberately mimicked a muscular torso (modeled by the suitably ripped Andre Greipel) but it’s the simpler white background with yellow & black tapered stripe 2011 version we love. It’s simple, clean and powerful – evoking organisation and speed. We like it as much as other sprint teams feared it.
Saeco Cannondale 2003
Speaking of sprint trains, that brings us nicely on to Saeco Cannondale. The team was formed around the sprinting skills and antics of Mario Cipolini – the toga-wearing gift to female kind (self appointed) of the 1990s peloton. It takes some balls to carry off red shorts (ahem) but the Saeco boys managed it with aplomb, always married to a matching red jersey. He enigmatic Gilberto Simoni also wore the kit to victory in the Giro D’Italia in 2003 so it sneaks into our 17 year list! Maybe it’s the cool, Italian coffee sponsor or the fact we have a soft spot for Cannondale bikes but this kit stands the test of time.
Euskaltel Euskadi 2008
The team from the Basque region of Spain graced the professional peleton with their orange jerseys from 1994-2013. Whilst commercially funded they were also backed by the Basque government which meant they never swayed from a predominantly orange jersey and never had to plaster too many additional logos all over it. Gracing the slender backs of some of the finest climbers in the world, the orange jersey got plenty of airtime in grand tours, often in heroic but futile long range mountain attacks. We like the slightly lighter tone of the 2008 version although you need to be a tanned, lean Spanish climber to really pull it off!
Garmin Cannondale 2016
OK, we make no apologies for it – we love strong colours here at Team KOMRAID but marrying flouro green with an argyle pattern? Impossible, right? Well, whoever was in charge of team kit at Garmin Cannondale in 2016 absolutely nailed it after a few years of very public practice. We’re particularly pleased they resisted the urge to try matching flouro green shorts and stuck with pairing the peloton’s loudest jersey with simple black bibs. It’s an instant classic.
Team Sky 2016
Despite all the vitriol thrown at Team Sky over the last few years (some of which driven by jealousy, some justified), you can’t deny that the world’s biggest team has commissioned some stunning kits. Dubbed the storm troopers due to their jet black kit and a perception of a robotic approach to racing, Sky have rarely varied from the black theme since it’s inception in 2009. We personally like the Rapha-produced 2016 variant for it’s clean lines and addition of the “brevet” style light blue and white horizontal stripes on the front. Personally we would have quietly dropped the frankly silly “ride-the-line” vertical stripe on the back but that’s picking hairs. Many years from now when Team Sky is no more and we miss them and their British success, we will hark back to this kit with fondness. Incidentally, the pretty obvious symbolism of the swap to a white jersey this year, coinciding with the heat they are attracting for all the wrong reasons is either a massive marketing brainstorm fail or an appalling piece of bad timing!
Red and black should always work but you can mess it up. BMC 2017 managed to create a simple, luxurious design that shouted “professional”. Helped by the slightly retro-looking but eminently premium addition of the Tag Heuer logo on each shoulder and gloriously plain, old-school black shorts, this kit was ridden to a number of high profile victories by the likes of Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte (till he ruined his riding into a wall down the Mont du Chat in the Tour). This is another classy team kit we might just might be tempted to wear one day.