After much speculation (and some leaks) over the last couple of weeks, Rapha and EF Education First have finally unveiled their 2022 team kit for men and women. They're as flashy as we could possibly have hoped, and will undoubtedly cause a stir on social media while turning heads on the roadside.
But first things first: The current team names are EF Education-Easy Post for the men and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB for the women. They presented the kit from their training camp in Girona (where the kit photoshoot had been spotted, and a number of spy-shot style photos appeared).Hideto Nakane sipping a cuppa behind close curtains. Photo: Gruber
The press release landed last-minute and was pretty concise (and most of the pictures were taken on the team's bus with curtains closed), making us wonder whether the previous leaks had finally put pressure on the team to launch the kit.
In any case, the new kit is finally here and will certainly not go unnoticed.
Same design, different variation
Both teams will wear the same design, a new development of Rapha's Argyle pattern. EF have used it for a few years now, but the new pattern – which Rapha says has been developed through creative coding and image/pattern simulation – has a subtle colour variation for the men's and women's teams.
The women's kit features the same design as the men's but with a slight colour variation. Photo: Gruber
At a first look, it may seem similar to the old one, at least the classic pink jersey in combination with the navy bibs rather than the more creative aesthetics the team has unleashed at the Giro over the years. But the more you look at it, the more you realise that the navy patterns used on the jersey make it substantially different. It's a totally different breed and one that will make people miss the original one. Cycling podcaster Benji Naesen probably summed it up better than anyone else on Twitter:
"Feel bad for EF. They had such a nice pink jersey – navy blue shorts combo. But then some construction worker threw a bucket of navy blue paint from the apartment above."
One of the few pictures of the new kit in action. Photo: Gruber
But then, there's something about this kit that keeps drawing my attention to it, as if I want to know and understand more about it. I'm pretty curious to know if those new navy paints mean anything at all and if there is some secret code or meaning encrypted in their patterns.
Probably not, but they're doing their job quite well: they want you to look at them. And for that, I have to give Rapha credit.
My wonderings are limited to the top of the kit, as the bibs retain the old and standard all-navy pattern. In one way it's disappointing given the innovation on the jersey, but it's also probably a good solution to keep some of the old elements that have worked well. Easy and simple often works well enough, and there's always time during the season to go overboard with some special editions here and there (please bring the ducks and other animals back, Rapha...).
Shop RaphaThe bibshorts will remain the same as last year. You can't beat a classic navy Photo: Gruber
More than just racing
As with past seasons, at the core of Rapha and EF race calendar there is always more than just pro racing.
"Together, Rapha and EF will continue to bring new perspectives to the sport of cycling. As well as wearing the kit in the WorldTour, riders from both teams will again take part in a number of events elsewhere in the cycle racing calendar, including Life Time Grand Prix [a series of six world-class off-road cycling events and a $250,000 prize purse]," reads Rapha-EF's kit's press release.Is there a secret code hiding underneath the new navy pattern on the jersey? Photo: Gruber
Among the 'extra-curricula' events and races (again including Lachlan Morton's alternative races), Rapha will also shoot a new series of films celebrating cycling's characters and those stories that often pass under the radar.
If you're looking to get your hands on the new EF-Rapha kit, you'll have to wait until the spring (no dates announced yet), but then you can buy it on rapha.cc.