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Giro d'Italia

EF Education-Nippo and Rapha do new Giro colors, again

Team unveils a new design and new drag-reducing technologies just ahead of the Italian grand tour.

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At the 2020 Giro d’Italia, EF Education-Nippo had kits and bikes emblazoned with designs created by the skateboard company Palace Skateboards.

The kits caught everyone’s eyes, were the subject of design debate, and also drew fines from the UCI for various rule violations.

Now the team has done it again: New kits with new designs and new technologies from the cycling clothing manufacturer Rapha, launched just ahead of the 2021 Giro.

Also read: Jersey shock: EF Pro Cycling partners with Palace for Giro d’Italia kit

The team usually wears kits that are dominated by pink, but this is a no-go at the Giro. The Italian grand tour leader’s jersey is pink, and so is just about everything else associated with the race. So as not to blend into the sea of pink or run afoul of the race rules which prohibit colors too close with that iconic pink, EF Education-Nippo came up with new and different kits for the 2021 edition.

The EF Education-Nippo Rapha kit shows off lots of color. Photo: Rapha
The kit for the 2021 Giro is rather subdued compared with the kit worn by EF Education-Nippo at the previous edition of the Italian grand tour. Photo: Rapha
The presumably UCI-compliant Rapha kit for the EF Education-Nippo pro cycling team for the 2021 Giro d’Italia. Photo: Rapha

EF Education-Nippo will wear the Rapha Euphoria collection, easily identifiable with its kaleidoscopic colors. The design “celebrates people from different backgrounds and nations coming together in pursuit of a common goal,” Rapha said in an announcement Thursday.

Those so inclined can purchase the 2021 EF Education-Nippo Rapha kit at the end of May on the Rapha website, following the conclusion of the Giro d’Italia.

Super-fast Rapha tech

For the time trials on stage 1 and stage 21 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, EF Education-Nippo will be wearing new skinsuits from Rapha.

Rapha makes the bold claim based on wind tunnel testing that the new men’s Aerosuit offered a 12.4-watt energy saving at 55kph at 1 degree yaw compared with the previous version. Rapha made this claim based on a 76kg rider.

The Rapha skinsuit in a late stage of development at the Loughborough University wind tunnel. Once designs were completed, the suit was produced with the new colors for EF Education-Nippo and also Canyon-SRAM. Photo: Rapha

“We configured the test environments in the wind tunnel to replicate the conditions found in grand tour time trial stages, which included multiple speed and wind angles,” said Dr. Barney Wainwright, a senior research fellow and practitioner in cycling aerodynamics and biomechanics at Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. “This attention to detail and specificity, which considerably increased the time required in the wind tunnel, provided detailed insight which differentiated between small differences in pattern and fabric. This approach was fundamental in identifying the optimal product choices.”

Also read: EF Education-Nippo replica kit

Rapha’s experience in creating fast fabric was noted in 2015 when Vasil Kiryienka of Team Sky won the 2015 UCI world time trial championship in Richmond, Virginia, while wearing a Rapha skinsuit.

In an announcement, Rapha indicated that “the team tested and evaluated over 100 fabrics and fabric combinations to find the perfect fabrics for the suits, socks, overshoes, and gloves. Textured fabrics were tested at Loughborough University, in their state-of-the-art wind tunnel Laboratory, with smooth fabrics optically tested for surface roughness to identify the smoothest surfaces.”

The design of the new kit focused on reducing energy expenditure, and not solely on lowering aerodynamic drag measured in a clinical environment. For panels on the new suit which do not create drag, Rapha used ultra-lightweight, highly compressive materials, which also have thermoregulation properties to keep the wearer cool and dry. Testing at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub, a facility specifically designed to analyze cycling performance, evaluated the effectiveness of each skinsuit.

“This project was a great example of how design, specific fabric wind tunnel testing, modeling, and wind tunnel testing of the rider and bike came together to find the optimum solution for the specific needs of the team,” said Dr. Wainwright. “The results that we gathered at each stage allowed us to fine-tune both the pattern and fabric choice to ensure that the skinsuit and sock package both complement each other at the race-specific airspeeds.”

Unlike the bibs and jersey that will be on sale after the Giro, the new skinsuit will only be available for EF Education-Nippo and Canyon-SRAM riders.