Emerging tentatively into public view like the world-famous Pennsylvania Groundhog, one of the joys of the early season is judging the pros of the peloton on the kit they find themselves enlisted to wear.
Now as we approach the Grand Tours, you can find our complete spotters' guide below. We suspect there may be a few surprise kits unveiled in the Giro and Tour, though.
Photo credit: JoJo Harper
EF Education-Nippo’s kit was, without doubt, the most hotly anticipated of 2021. The team’s Palace collaboration last year near-enough broke the cycling portion of the internet, and so expectation was high for 2021’s reveal.
First revealed on Saturday 30th January, the kit was… well… lovely but rather understated. Underwhelming, perhaps.
‘After getting into hot water last season, we’ve decided to create a compliant kit for 2021,’ read the team’s press release. ‘In fact, we’ve tried to create the world’s most compliant cycling kit.’ All sponsor logos have orderly spaced, and Rapha has even printed its design working on the jersey.
So no ducks, no crazy patterns, but predictably a great looking Rapha jersey. Yet, with Rapha’s promotional video ending on a tagline of ‘The world’s most orderly jersey. Until it isn’t,’ we reckon that there may indeed be a zany design awaiting us later in the season.
For now, though, kudos to a rather fetching kit.
(Photo Credit: Bettini Photo)
A bit like painting yourself gold in preparation for the Olympic road race, Bahrain-Victorious could have set itself up for a fall with that name. Still, with British supercar brand McLaren pulling out after just one season, the squad needed something to fill that second line on their jerseys. Going for a complete redesign at the same time, thankfully, this omits the somewhat controversial papaya shade which dominated the kit last season. Despite our cynicism, they've since bagged plenty of wins too.
My former art editor learnt typography by setting steel blocks on a letterpress. He’s only in his mid-thirties. Now designers can’t even get the name of their employer to scan correctly.
The team now accidentally named La Citroën, formerly AG2R La Mondiale, has turned its attention to the classics for 2021, adding Greg van Avermaet and Bob Jungels. Jettisoned along with its GC hopes are the blue flashes on its kit, although happily, the brown shorts remain. Weird wording aside, quite nice.
Assos once advised its customers to sponsor themselves. It seemed to do the job, as multiple teams would allegedly post their shorts off to Assos HQ to have the famous Assos chamois retrofitted. Eventually the Swiss brand not only decided to take a spot in the WorldTour, but is now the main title sponsor of a major WorldTour team.
Assos could previously have been accused of a rather muted palette that favoured technical features and kit names that sounded like wifi passwords (take the 2013 short, the Assos T FI.Uno_S5).
Today, it not only mixes slick colourways and styling with technical design, but is backing a team that's doing a lot of good for cycling worldwide. Nicely done folks.
One of the last teams to release their 2021 look, Astana-Premier Tech kept their look under wraps until the second week of January. No major colour changes for the Kazak outfit. Instead, it opts to retain the light blue taken from the national flag which it’s sported since its first season back in 2006. To complement this, they’ve added a navy blue fade to both the torso and sleeves, creating something clean and relatively elegant.
It could be a prosperous season for Movistar which has signed Annemiek van Vleuten from Mitchelton-Scott. The Dutchwomen had another fantastic year in 2020 and would have likely claimed her third successive Giro d’Italia Femminile but for a broken wrist.
Over on the men’s team, the signing of Miguel Angel Lopez was met with bemusement given that the Colombian climber branded the team ‘idiots’ at the 2019 Vuelta. Unfortunately, that drama is as exciting as it gets for Movistar, whose jersey remains largely unchanged.
Although the unimpeachable men’s kit hasn’t seen much tinkering, the Trek-Segafredo’s women’s jersey has undergone a thorough revamp, moving from being largely navy to light blue. Shirin van Anrooij, one of our neo-pros to watch in 2021, will join new teammates including Lizzie Deignan, who comes off one of the most successful years of her career yet. Both kits are appealingly clean-looking, succeeding in making us want to run out and grab an espresso and a Trek bike.
Teasingly, last year Bora-Hansgrohe promised to bring a special jersey to the Tour de France. However, when it arrived, it was just a light grey version of their standard jersey. EF and Palace skateboards it was not. Still a handsome jersey in its own right, this year Bora-Hansgrohe has made the grey look permanent. Of course, maybe by the time we head to the Tour its riders will be back in black. Hopefully not, we think the new jersey is almost as delightful as Daniel Oss’ locks.
In their former iteration as Boels Dolmans, SD Worx dominated the women’s cycling scene with displays of impressively cohesive teamwork among some of the biggest names in the sport, and that looks set to remain under the team’s new sponsorship.
In terms of kit, this hits all the major requirements of the WorldTour: corporate, suspiciously European and two-tone. It manages to be simultaneously understated and loud. Chapeau!
Last year proved mixed for Groupama-FDJ. Leader Thibaut Pinot’s poor Tour de France probably left David Gaudu eyeing up his job. Yet at the same time, Arnaud Démare was perhaps the star sprinter of 2020. So where does that leave the team? One answer would be in a slightly tweaked version of their previous jersey. So instead here's Démare looking the biz in his National Champs jersey.
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
Image credit: FDJ/ Thomas Maheux
On the female side of the FDJ eco-system we find FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, complete with the quintessential French styling that has become a hallmark of the team.
As kits go, it could be more exciting, but we give the team full marks for presentation.
Ineos Grenadiers continue to strengthen their team this season with Dan Martinez, Adam Yates, and Laurens de Plus hopping aboard. The tentacles of cycling’s great vampire squid have also wrapped themselves around much-fancied neo-pro Tom Pidcock.
However, with Chris Froome leaving and plenty of riders incoming, Ineos seems to have decided that’s enough change for one year and so sticks with the design it ended 2020 wearing.
Israel Start-Up Nation
Israel Start-Up Nation were WorldTour debutants in 2020, a fact you could tell simply by glancing at their jersey, which didn't exactly scream establishment. This year they’ve rectified the situation somewhat. Gone is the light blue which has been replaced by a bolder navy shade. The whole outfit still smacks of something you’d be happy to receive alongside entry to a sportive, which given the squad’s aim to promote Israel as a tourist destination might just be intentional.
Canyon-Sram are the only team in the men's and women's WorldTour that we've granted two pictures in this list. And that's because it looks so damn nice. No surprise that Rapha is in its element with a team that the brand has held a solid stake in from the outset.
In a very pleasing nod to gender parity, Rapha has historically made the team kit commercially available for men too. For our part, we'd be hard-pressed to argue this wasn't the best looking kit in the WorldTour.
It’s Deceuninck-Quick-Step. Who’d dare say anything bad? Not us. Promoting insulated windows, laminate flooring, comfy foam mattresses, and a big shop from Lidl; California might have created the concept of ‘lifestyle’ but in Belgium, it finds its finest expression. Also one of the few pro kits it’s acceptable to wear out and about. Plus Cav is back!
Inoffensive to a fault, the team formerly known as Mitchelton–Scott’s latest kit is a bit Pro Continental. Although it’s nice to see Bianchi celeste on a jersey, it could stand to be a fair bit bolder.
Wiz Khalifa's favourite team would look good even if it wasn’t winning everything in sight. Other designers should take note; strong main colour, black rather than white contrast bands and a single logo in big type right across the front. It’s not hard.
Channelling early Team Sky, Team DSM keeps the stripes from its former life as Sunweb. However, they don’t really work this time around. Not quite as big a misstep as losing the services of Marc Hirschi. Just because dye-sublimation printing lets you print your multicolour logo onto a jersey doesn’t mean you should.
UAE Team Emirates
(Photo Credit: Bettini Photo)
Does the job this one.
It’s pleasing to see that moving up to the big leagues hasn’t changed things here. Taking the license of the disbanded CCC, and adding yet another sponsor in the form of French supermarket Intermarché, team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux’s jersey is as jumbled as its name. Yet from its discordant confusion of clashing logos, fonts, and ill-advised accent colours is synthesised a whole somehow both beautiful and strange. Who’d of thought it?
Speaking of CCC, the women's team has metamorphosed rather elegantly into Liv Racing. Much like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon, the kit has evolved from a drab orange into a multi-tone purple complete with a highly hipster shoulder print pattern. We're all for it, even if the whole outfit doesn't hang together quite as well as the Canyon-Sram ensemble.
Resolute in their desire to wear neck warmers while having their class picture taken, there’s something endearing about team Cofidis. Over the years our affections for the team have waxed and waned, in much the same way as our opinion of their kit. This year is a fine vintage, looking very French, slightly retro, and giving no suggestion that the team is about to relinquish its WorldTour status.
(Photo Credit: facepeeters)
The thinking rider’s Classics squad; Lotto Soudal’s black, white and red kit is crushingly bold. Selling gambling and fixatives to the masses, both its men’s and women’s squads provide a home to a mostly Belgian selection of puncheurs. Pretty much everything the home fan wants from a team, buy the jersey now or pay more for it on Ebay in a decade.
Alé BTC Ljubljana
Alé BTC Ljubljana kit showcases everything that's fantastic about Italian racing. Powered by Cipollini bikes and Alé clothing, here's a kit that reminds us that fluoro is fun, logos can be loud and you should never apologise for being you. At worst it's slightly kitsch, but in our eyes it's a healthy dose of old-school pro cycling flown in from the past to brighten up 2021.