Another cycling season is upon us, THANK CHRIST! I'd even started watching football again as a way to fill the days – but thankfully the pro peloton has returned to deliver us from that evil. With a new season comes a whole raft of new teams, new signings and old-teams-with-new-names-and-sponsors, ensuring we spend the first few races of the year asking, "But wait, I thought Kristoff rode for Katusha and Degenkolb rode for Alpecin?", "No, Katusha is Alpecin now. And Degenkolb moved to Trek. The team that was Alpecin is now sponsored by a skiing company."
So here, to help you make sense of it all, is a guide to all the kits of this year's World Tour teams.
I can picture the marketing meeting on this one perfectly. The head of the team, a large floating eye made of fire, brings the meeting to order,
“Look guys, you’ve done a great job in the last couple of years. Pretty much everybody hates us. We’re widely seen as the most villainous team on the WorldTour. That shit you pulled in 2015 pulling Nibz up that hill, that was top grade Astanevil®. Pure panto gold, lads.
"And we’ve built on that beautifully this season, what with the Dark Wizard Vinoman casting that spell to fling Stephen Kruijswijk into the snowdrift right before he won the Giro. Top-drawer sorcery that man.
"But I’ve decided we can do more. We can be more evil. And that starts with the kit. It needs more black, it needs to look like every one of you has been wafted above the smoking fires of hell by Lucifer himself. Does anyone have the number for an evil graphic design company? Does Hugo Boss still to uniforms?
"Oh, and to make it extra creepy, let's only release pictures of it being worn by plastic mannequins."
I mean, with a name like Bora, was this kit ever not going to be a massive snoozefest? See how they’ve done a white one for Peter Sagan because he is the world champion? Thrilling, is it not?
BMC copped a fair bit of flak for this one when they announced it for not really changing anything then flinging a Tag Heuer logo on the sleeve as an apparent afterthought. Daniel Oss’ haircut just about saves it.
That Belgian team that wears blue kit
I’ll be honest, I have lost track of what this team is called. You know the ones, they used to have Tony Martin, but they don’t anymore. They still have Marcel Kittel. Are they called Etixx, or Quickstep? And which one sued Philippe Gilbert to get him to pay back his earnings? And doesn’t that make it a bit awkward that he rides for them again? Except, does he?
What I can be sure of is that I quite like this kit. Sure, we haven’t broken any new ground here in terms of the aesthetic, but I enjoy the inclusion of five or six latex mattresses stapled to the fronts of all the riders’ jerseys. Real aero, bro.
*For the record, "relax, relax", is what Boonen used to say to young punks that made the final selection at Paris-Roubaix right before he smashed them to bits in the final. Now he just whispers it to himself as he assembles flatpack furniture for his kids.
Team Dimension Data
Everyone’s favourite plucky underdogs, the Bad News Bears of pro bike riding, just scraped into the WorldTour for 2017 after the UCI relented on its plan to axe one license. And what did Team DiData do to repay them? They came out with a kit that is so inoffensive, so ‘Mondeo man’, that absolutely no-one will notice they’re in the peloton.
This kit screams, ‘if people forget we’re here, they can’t remember to throw us out’.
I present to you a short, one-act play.
A GRAPHIC DESIGNER is standing in front of a blank whiteboard. She is excited, her face lit up with the thrill of potentiality. Two PR PEOPLE sit at the table in front of her.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Guys, we’re a brand new team. We have unlimited budget. We can do literally anything with this kit. It could be one for the ages – something iconic, like the Mondrian-inspired LOOK jersey, or the Eddy Merckx’ Molteni.
PR PERSON 1: Can we not just do a red one? Anyone got any reason why we can’t do red?
PR PERSON 2: Yeah, red is great, but – and I’m just thinking out loud here, guys – we’re really rich, aren’t we? Like, so rich it kind of makes a mockery of things?
PP 1: That’s true, we are disgustingly rich.
PP 2: So it should have some gold on too, right?
PP 1: (Firing a finger gun at PP 2) Genius!
PP 1 & 2: Ok red and gold it is!"
When you desperately need a story – any story – about your team to distract from a much, much bigger and more incriminating story that is rolling like a runaway team bus and threatens to obliterate your credibility in the sport, you’ll take pretty much anything that comes along.
In this case, one of the social media team’s nieces vandalised an old Team Sky jersey with some crayons and that was enough.
“We’ve got a new kit everyone!” Team Sky loudly proclaimed, “Why don’t you want to talk about our new kit, why you always gotta focus on the bad stuff? We think it’s sad nobody believes in miracles anymore, like how we inexplicably gave the job of redesigning our jersey to a colourblind child obsessed with vintage video game, Frogger.”
Impressively, the towering dreadfulness of the design actually made it more effective as a distraction from that other story, whatever it was. I can’t remember, but I’m sure that Sir Dave and co. answered all of our questions comprehensively and satisfactorily. That sounds like something they would do.
AG2R La Mondiale
You are AG2R. You’ve had a disappointing year. Romain Bardet fell agonisingly short of an historic victory at le Grand Boucle. You need a kit to grab attention and reignite the passion of the fans. Give them something they’d be proud to wear while they run alongside Bardet, urging him to go that little bit harder and finally climb onto the top step of the podium. You need a flag around which men can rally.
What do you do?
Exactly the fucking same as last year. But with a brown collar. Yep.
Honestly, It doesn’t even matter. They could race in Borat-style mankinis and I still wouldn’t care. In fact, the colours are basically the same already.
This gif of Pierre Rolland sliding off the road in a stage of this year’s tour is everything you need to know about Cannondale Drapac.
Team Katusha Alpecin
Christ are there really still SEVEN MORE TEAMS to go?
It’s red. Again. 6/10.
Easy one this. Stick handsome Tommy Windmills in anything and I am sold. They haven’t even announced it and I’m giving them an 8/10.
The off-season move of Kenny Ellisonde to Sky gave us one less reason to love that plucky band of Frenchies, FDJ – so we’ll have to settle for making jokes about their white shorts for another year and wondering if Thibaut Pinot is EVER going to fulfil his potential and become the next French winner of the Tour de France.
But even if he does he'll have to do it in see-through pants.
That kit is two years old, but do you really care?
Doesn’t matter what you dress him in, Andre Greipel is still going to come storming down the finishing straight like the enraged Gorilla we all know and love. So Lotto Soudal just didn't bother to change their kit at all. It's red. Again.
Turns out the one thing Contador liked about riding for Tinkoff was the lurid hi-vis yellow kit – so he insisted that Trek adopt it in their own jerseys. Either that or the team was so scared of having their whole roster decimated by a short-sighted elderly ex-pat while out on a training ride that they decided to amp up the visibility.
Apparently this isn't actually their race kit, it's their training kit. Which I think is a bit of a shame actually.
Lotto NL Jumbo
Actually, no word of a lie, I think they’ve done a great job with this. Looks quite a lot like what I imagine a London Wasps Supporters Cycling Club would wear, but as criticisms go that’s a bit contrived. Would have been an 8 but I’m giving them an extra, residual, still-feeling-sorry-for-Steven-Kruijswijk point.
Orica – Scott
Great, Scott! This kit looks pretty awesome. Can someone at the team please confirm though whether or not the team will be wielding lightsabers at races this year?
Like Lotto Soudal, Movistar have opted to change their kit barely at all for this season. It still has a big lime green M on the front and it is still blue. I look forward to spending another year trying to distinguish them from Team Sky and Orica, while enjoying the novelty of also not being able to distinguish them from new dark blue / black teams, Bora and Dimension Data.
I don't know, 5/10?
UAE Abu Dhabi
Honestly, who knows what is going on at this shitshow of a team? Ben Swift is riding for them. Here is a picture of Ben Swift holding a giant Easter Egg.