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New kit day is one of the best days of the year – not only for the professional cyclists receiving endless new pairs of bibs, but also for cycling fans everywhere who wait with bated breath to see their favorite team’s new look.
Spare a thought, then, for those riders and fans who are left disappointed with a Very Bad Kit.
Personally, I find myself flabbergasted by some of the disastrous kits teams end up with. People! Your team kit is your first, second, and third impression on the world! How hard can it be to design something that looks decent? Apparently pretty hard, judging by the majority of designs we end up with each year.
I will say this, however: The women’s peloton is in a much better spot than the men’s, both in the diversity of colors and approaches to design as well as in the overall quality of the look. It’s not much, but at least they have that going for them.
So while most of these kits are better than even the best men’s kits, that’s a bit reductive, and it’s our solemn journalistic calling to delve a little deeper.
That’s right: we must rank them. For science.
First place: Canyon-SRAM
There was only ever one way this could go. It would be impossible to not choose this outstanding kit as the best in the 2020 peloton.
Canyon-SRAM debuted in 2016 with a completely unique design that made waves immediately. It was classy, with an all-black base overlaid by multiple color blocks, making their riders hard to miss.
By 2018, the team had fallen from the kit-podium due to inactivity, making little to no changes to the kit for three seasons. This year, however, they’ve given us a new beauty to talk about.
The general feel of the new kit stays in the same lane as the old; they’ve kept the solid base color, now navy blue, but have added brighter color splashes across the body of the jersey. In previous years the colors were more uniform, but now they look painted on. This is especially prominent on the back, where it looks almost as if a paintbrush was used for dramatic effect.
The addition of yellow, orange, white, turquoise, pink, and blue in lightning bolt shapes adds something special. Adding to the colors are the tiny white stars covering the navy blue, minuscule and barely noticeable. When the kit was revealed Alexis Ryan provided a poetic explanation for the stars: “The 2020 kit radiates like the light of a thousand stars on our power within, as individuals and as a team”.
The quality of this kit is guaranteed as it’s made by the powerhouse clothing manufacturer Rapha. This also means that when the kit eventually becomes available to the public it’ll be selling like hotcakes. Get ready to see a lot of bright brushstrokes out on the road. Heck, I even want one as my personal contribution to the #makeprokitcoolagain movement.
Second place: Parkhotel Valkenburg
Parkhotel Valkenburg are not a part of the new Women’s World Tour this year, and unfortunately have only really been in the news recently for the drama between the team and their top rider, Lorena Wiebes. Nonetheless, they don one of the most stylish kits in the peloton.
Last year they stood out in a mostly pink getup with green and black chevrons at the bottom of the jersey and the classiest of pairings; the black bib. That being said, the back of last year’s jersey would have knocked them down in the rankings – too many pink, black, and green chevrons, all over the back, made the whole thing too busy.
This year they’ve kept the green and pink and added white to the jersey. Instead of just the green chevron at the base of the jersey now there is a green triangle topped by one dark pink – the same as last year – and one pink chevron. The asymmetrical sleeves round out the look, one with pink detailing, one with green.
Fingers crossed we get to see a lot of this jersey this year, and not just before Wiebes inevitably up and switches teams on June 1st.
Third place: CCC-Liv
It is no easy feat to pull off orange, but CCC-Liv makes orange look good.
Maybe it’s their superstar rider, Marianne Vos, who elevates this kit to new heights with her winning ways. Maybe it’s that it would be hard to miss any rider in bright orange speeding along the roads. A valid complaint whenever the peloton gathers for a race is not being able to pick one team from another – a problem that definitely doesn’t extend to CCC-Liv.
Though their kit has more than a passing resemblance to the North American Rally team, CCC sent it instead of saving it by going full-blown bright orange, as opposed to just orange as Rally has. CCC-Liv’s orange is basically that of a fire-cone.
What really sells this kit is the fade to black at the bottom of the jersey. It’s not like they made the jersey orange and the bibs black – oh no, they went one step farther to add a slimming effect to an already lean looking team. Paired with all black bibs, this kit is one of the very best. By standing out in the peloton without being overly obnoxious (I’m looking at you, Ale BTC Ljubljana), CCC-Liv round out our podium.
The pretty dang good kits
Let me just start off by saying I want to like this kit more. I really do. And lots of people love it. But I don’t. Here’s why it didn’t make the podium: Horizontal stripes.
Anyone who has any kind of basic knowledge of designing a cycling kit, or really any piece of tight-fitting athletic clothing, knows not to slap horizontal stripes on the body of the kit, let alone on the stomach. It’s clothing design 101. Vertical stripes are slimming, and in general better looking; horizontal stripes should exist very rarely on any clothing, period.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) November 24, 2019
Now, that rant aside, credit has to be given to Trek-Segafredo for trying to look different. They’ve clearly gone for a “no other team has ever done this” vibe, and for that, they’ve kept themselves out of the dreaded “oh… oh no” category (below). What really saved them from the “totally fine” designation below is the terrific USA national champion kit donned by Ruth Winder, as well as their delightful neon training kit that I wish they raced in. Neon and navy blue is a fantastic combo.
Busy day of base testing today. 2020 we’re coming! 🚴♀️📈⏱ pic.twitter.com/uqUwRHHt4L
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) December 14, 2019
I will also say that the race kit is a step up from last year thanks to the removal of the horizontal stripes on the side (see rant above). All in all, it checks all the boxes of standing out, not being that annoying to look at, and having a pretty devoted fan base. When the team sells their jerseys online, you’d have to imagine the women’s kit will outsell the more boring men’s kit.
At this point, you will start to see a trend in how I rank kits. Subtle panache and details are the way to go, as opposed to wild colors or “trying too hard”. It’s a fine line to walk, and Team Sunweb are on their tiptoes.
After much internal debate, Team Sunweb’s traditional red with white racing stripes got a promotion from “fine” to “pretty dang good”. For one, see the rant about stripes above, and for two, there are no other teams in red! Gotta love being able to easily spot the rider attacking on the left to try and bridge to the break up the road.
Similar to CCC-Liv, last year Team Sunweb jumped on the black fade at the base of the jersey to black bibs trend, which they’ve abandoned this year in favor of an all-red jersey paired with all-black bibs. It’s a quality look and I’m here for it. In addition to the two white racing stripes that have been part of Team Sunweb as far back as its Giant-Shimano days in 2014 (then black on white) they’ve included subtle vertical red stripes on the entire jersey. Thicker than Trek’s old pinstripe situation, these stripes add a little something-something to the overall aesthetic.
Seemingly the only significant change to the 2020 design was to make the Cervelo logo on the front white instead of black, which corrects the out-of-balance look of last year.
The totally fine kits
Although its widely disliked, I’d like to make a case that the Mitchelton-Scott kit, which hasn’t really changed since the team went from Orica-Scott to Mitchelton-Scott in 2018, is fine. It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s just… there. ‘Fine’.
That being said, after thoroughly digging around Mitchelton-Scott’s social media, they’re still yet to make a formal kit announcement for 2020. Maybe they know people aren’t a fan of the design, or maybe there’s something in the pipeline? Whilst we can only hope that things improve, it would be pretty weird if they were waiting to drop their 2020 kit since their riders have already been standing on podiums at the Australian national championships.
Australian Champion 💛💚. An emotional win and I can’t thank my team @MitcheltonSCOTT enough for the belief and support to make it happen. A day with incredible teamwork with particular mention to @GLBrown321 who was the super motor of our breakaway. pic.twitter.com/TwFm2H9qiG
— AmandaSpratt (@AmandaSpratt) January 12, 2020
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
The most French of French kits, what impresses the most about FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope’s *catches breath* kit is that, given the length of the name, the front of the jersey actually doesn’t look too cluttered. They’ve managed to make the dizzying number of title sponsors look organized, which is no easy feat.
All in all it’s a fine design, made even better by the blue bibs. However, this kit would have been more interesting if the blue and red markings on the stomach of the jersey could also be found on the arms and shoulders.
An improvement from last year, and hopefully we get to see a little more of it in the races this year.
The “oh… oh no” kits
Ale BTC Ljubljana
In this day and age, there are a few things you can always count on. Frontier and RyanAir will always have delayed flights. New Years Eve will always be disappointing. Any sequel to a movie with a definitive ending is always going to be a waste of time. And any manifestation of this team will always have one of the worst kits in the peloton. Why an Italian team feels the need to include a Hawaiian flower motif on their jersey, as in years past, is beyond fathoming.
When Ale Cipollini merged with BTC Ljubljana at the end of last season there was little hope of the former influencing the kit away from their traditional bright orange and yellow ridiculousness. Whilst the 2020 edition of this kit may not be quite as hideous as in years past, it’s still just a lot of bright colors with no attempt at sense.
Sometimes a kit design is announced and the world spits out their coffee in disgust, only to decide a few months down the road that all was not as bad as it first seemed. And then there’s the new Boels Dolmans kit, which produces exactly the opposite result.
At first glance your reaction is probably “huh, it’s actually not too bad!”, but sit with it a while. Let it marinate in your mind. Wait, is that an orange and black marble effect? And also stripes? Are those knicks black, blue, lilac, all of the above or none? What is happening?!
— Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (@boelsdolmansct) December 18, 2019
Basically, it looks like somebody jumped on Adobe Illustrator and figured out how to select one block of the kit at a time to change its effect, leading to the absolute trainwreck you see here. Now, I’d like to be clear that Boels Dolmans has had really great kit designs in the past, despite a restricted color palette. Remember 2016 and 2018? What a time! What great years for the Boels Dolmans kit! Now compare and contrast to this utter disaster and you’ll understand my disappointment.
Luckily, the majority of this most dominant of teams will be in special national champ jerseys, but with Anna van der Breggen in her standard team kit for the first time in a few years, we’re still going to be seeing a lot of this situation all over races. And that, my friends, is no good.
A number of Continental UCI women’s teams have yet to introduce their 2020 look to the world, notably Katusha-Bigla, who are sure to pull out a great design, as well as Drops, whose slogan of “Color the Road” means that they never fail to have a looker of a kit.
On the side of less eye-friendly designs, Hitec Products is one that may or may not fit the bill based on their efforts last year – and which way Ceratizit-WNT (ex-WNT-Rotor) goes will be a surprise for everyone.
We’ll update this story with any breaking developments in the world of good, bad and ugly kits as more teams release their designs.