Tour de France 2020

Tech Podcast: Do the pros wear the same kit as the rest of us?

Pro kit has evolved drastically over the last decade. Has everyday joe's kit changed with it? There are more similarities than differences.

[Editor’s note: This episode was recorded during the 2020 Tour de France, so some of the conversation may sound dated. Most notably, Team EF Cycling’s new kit has already dropped, and it’s quite something to behold.]

It wasn’t too long ago that the pros wore bulky wool jerseys. From there, like the rest of us, they moved on to synthetic materials, but the jerseys flapped in the wind. As time has progressed, pro kit has gotten tighter and more aerodynamic, the riders wispier, and the materials more complex.

Rapha’s founder and CEO Simon Mottram knows all about pro kit and its evolution. Over the years, Rapha has sponsored some of the best riders in the world on WorldTour teams — perhaps most notably Team Sky (now Ineos-Grenadiers). Rapha now sponsors EF Pro Cycling and Canyon-SRAM, and according to Mottram, the lessons Rapha learned from working with Team Sky and its marginal gains doctrine has benefitted riders and clothing brands alike.

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So do the pros ride what we ride, or do they get special pro kit with secret advantages? Mottram says it’s a bit of both; not long ago, the everyday rider probably had better kit than the pros, but the pros have certainly caught up and even passed everyday Joe. That’s because all teams are now looking for every watt, every gram, and every bit of performance they can scratch up to get a leg up over the competition.

The process of working with riders to create such garments has also changed over time, and Rapha has stepped up its clothing game to match advances from its competitors at the WorldTour level.

In this episode of the VeloNews Tech Podcast, Rapha’s Mottram shares some insight into the process that drives clothing innovation, how the pros get involved, and what the most difficult parts of the clothing design and creation process is.

If you have questions about this episode of the VeloNews Tech Podcast, or if you have suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover on a future episode, feel free to reach out to tech editor Dan Cavallari via email, Twitter, or Instagram.