Culture

Roundtable: Which is the best new team kit?

New season, new kits. But which of the 2021 team jerseys is the best? And which kits swing and a miss?

A new year means new kits, and sure enough, the past few days have seen a number of teams either totally overhaul their livery or tweak a tried-and tested-formula in advance of the new season.

Team DSM, SD-Worx, Team Bike Exchange and Ag2r-Citroën have gone all-in and changed color schemes and patterns as they take on new sponsors and fresh identities. Others have played it safe or kept it subtle with a touch-up here and a different tone there.

But which kits are wardrobe winners and which are just “meh”? And have we wrapped our heads around seeing Chris Froome in an Israel Start-Up Nation jersey yet?

Time for some hot takes!

Which new team kit is your favorite?

Photo: SD Worx

Andrew Hood: (@eurohoody): I’ve never been a big fan of the billboard-style approach to jerseys. I get it how teams want to plaster the names of all their sponsors and backers onto the moving advertising poster. In terms of graphic design and marketing punch, cycling jerseys still have a long way to go IMHO. Teams with singular sponsors have an advantage to make cleaner, more appealing lines. I dig Movistar’s and Ineos Grenadiers’ cleaner, more integrated looks. When it comes to teams that are going with the billboard look, it’s hard to beat Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic.

Fred Dreier (@freddreier): My favorite is SD Worx’s purple kit. That team (previously Boels-Dolmans) has been synonymous with orange since 2013. I was worried that the team couldn’t make a break from its old name and old color scheme — sounds minor, right, but I still know a lot of people that refer to Ineos as ‘Team Sky.’ Anyway, I think that the sharp new kit is going to help Boels-Dolmans swiftly transition to SD Worx. Of course winning races will accomplish this faster.

Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): On first impulse, I was going to choose Ag2r-Citroën and their unconventional diagonal orientation. It’s simple but stylish, and it even makes those brown shorts look good (yes, I said it). However, it’s the wacky green patterning on the B&B Hotels kit that gets it for me [see below]. I dig the green and the pattern is a break from the norm. But the thing that clinched it for me was the designer’s explanation of the Brittany-inspired concept. “The black dots that complete this patchwork are the fruit of my emotions,” explained kit mastermind Franz-Renan Joly. “A kind of bubbling, because everything comes crashing down. Like the remnants of a gust of wind which can be explained by the total freedom of creation that I enjoyed.” Love it.

Chris Froome is in an Israel Start-Up Nation kit. What’s your sports or pop culture analogy for seeing Froome NOT in a Sky kit?

Photo: Noa Arnon / Israel Start-Up Nation

Fred: This is exactly like seeing Michael Jordan wearing a Washington Wizards jersey in 2001. The colors are even similar! And much it was seeing 40-year-old MJ clad in Wizards gear, my overall sentiment of seeing Chris Froome in ISN colors is hope of the unknown. Will Froome be the same old Froome we saw dominate the Tour de France for four years? Or, is he washed up? Jordan was pretty much washed, but we still got to see some moments of brilliance (he scored 51 points in a game at age 38). Here’s hoping Froome will give us some flashes of brilliance as well.

Jim: Seeing Froome in the ISN get-up reminds me a little of when soccer star Wayne Rooney first appeared in a DC United kit. Gone were the traditional “crest” style logos of his former teams Everton and Manchester United and in came the very-American eagle motif. Rooney had become a hero of English soccer through his prodigious goal-scoring tally and old-school bullishness. When Rooney moved to D.C United in 2018, he was coming off the back of a few seasons of looking unfit and out of spark, and the American team hoped he would serve as a poster boy for their return to the top of Major League Soccer. The parallels with Froome are clear. Rooney enjoyed two successful seasons in the U.S before returning to play in England. At 35 years of age and with only a one-year deal, Froome will be hoping he hits the back of the net for at least two years with Israel Start-Up Nation.

Andrew: To me, it’s more like Mick Jagger leaving the Rolling Stones and trying to go solo, or the Van Hagar version of Van Halen. The magic’s just not there without the original lineup. Change can be good, however, and no one rises to a challenge like Chris Froome. One can imagine the act of putting a new jersey every morning will give Froome that little extra bit of dig he needs going into 2021.

Are any new 2021 team kits a swing and a miss?

Photo: Team BikeExchange

Andrew: There are too many unimaginative jerseys that seem to serve little more than to squeeze in all the names of the backers. As a result, teams miss the chance to fully embrace the opportunity to stand out and thus serve their sponsors even more effectively. Jerseys are and should be a blank canvas. Forward-thinking sponsors should embrace the space, and let graphic designers go wild. Bring on more wacky stuff like EF’s skateboard-inspired one-off kit from the 2020 Giro. And why not have different jerseys throughout the season for different races? The rules and the jerseys of the peloton could use an updated look.

Jim: There are a few, unfortunately. Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s move from mostly-white to dark blue is just boring, Team BikeExchange is forgettable and overly-functional, and Team DSM’s black and blue is just meh.

Fred: I feel like the Team BikeExchange kit is a tad too busy. There’s red, white, black, and then two different shades of Bianchi celeste. That’s not a bad combo, but the dozen or so BikeExchange logos on the belly are just one design element too many.

B&B Hotels
B&B Hotels: Wacky design, elaborate press release, and trippy photoshoot gets Jim Cotton’s vote. Photo: B&B Hotels / Renan Joly