Have a close look at Dan Martin's Champion System jersey at the Tour de France and you'll notice something unusual.
If you were watching Tour de France stage 6, you saw Dan Martin’s early attack. You saw the UAE Team Emirates leader flying up the Mur de Bretagne in his distinctive out-of-the-saddle style. You saw the Irishman punch the air to celebrate his first Tour stage win in five years.
But there was one little thing you wouldn’t have seen: A zipper on his jersey.
Martin is wearing a new jersey from team sponsor Champion System that hasn’t hit the market yet. The clothing supplier says the jersey was designed to be aerodynamic, breathable, and comfortable — everything you’d expect from an ordinary jersey with a zipper.
Champion System took feedback from team riders who, by and large, did not want to have a zipper on the front of their kits.
The likely benefits of a zipperless jersey are that it is more aerodynamic and lighter weight. Also, the riders were happy to have one less thing to fuss with either at the bottom or top of big climbs — no need to unzip or zip up. And one added bonus for the sponsor UAE is that its large logo on the chest won’t be disrupted by a zip.
Would it be uncomfortable or too hot? Champion System says the fabric, called AGILE, is breathable enough, almost like a baselayer to make it fine for the Tour’s hottest days.
Champion System fine-tuned the jersey fit with team riders Diego Ulissi and Fabio Aru. Dan Martin also provided feedback to the designers.
“The feedback from the riders has been excellent,” said Chris Reynolds, director of operations at Champion Systems. “Dan Martin is very particular with what products he’ll use in races, as he fully understands the demands and the benefits of certain products. As a brand we understand that this jersey will not be for everyone as it is a very specialized item, however, we strongly believe that what we make for the professional riders should also be offered to our clubs globally.”
Will we see zipperless jerseys on our group rides or at training crits in the near future? Perhaps racers in hot climates would like to have a top that is so ventilated that un-zipping is unnecessary, especially if it avoids that annoying flapping jersey at high speeds.
However, cycling is a sport for traditionalists and having the option to regulate your body heat with a zipper seems unlikely to go completely out of style, regardless of who wins a stage at the Tour.