We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town. Beep Beep.
These lyrics come to mind whenever the word “fashion” comes to mind.
It doesn’t happen much, but when the Tour de France rolls around, I think it’s the proper time to evaluate team cycling kits from the world best.
All cameras are on them and they want to look their best, but sometimes look their worst.
Passing judgement on fashion styles can be crude, but it’s a lot of fun too.
This year, I grouped all the combatants together instead of dividing them into World Tour and Continental teams because there were some great efforts from the all.
Without further adieu:
22. Wanty – Groupe Gobert
Sometimes you can best describe a kit as “Sponsor us and you can tell where the logo goes!” On the upside, at least they have plenty of sponsorship! Clearly, you don’t feel like Wanty has World Tour aspirations.
21. Quick-Step Floors
Retro can be cool, but can be overreaching. The Quick-Step team has slowly made advances through the years and last season’s edition might have been the biggest step forward they’ve ever made. This season’s kit looks like they hit the reset button bringing them back seven years when things didn’t look good. It’s not just the rudimentary design, but also the way the simplistic colors accentuate the kits design flaws. This just makes me think how long will it take for them to return to something decent?
20. Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
While coaching, Phil Jackson would trim his facial hair slightly different year after year so media outlets couldn’t use the same stock imagery all the time. I’m convinced Confidis has been playing the same trick on us with minor tweaks every season. This gives me inspiration that stupid ideas are entertaining if you commit long term to them.
19. Lotto NL-Jumbo
What do I have to say? This is a recent update as the switched the placement of yellow and black to not confuse viewers with the malliot jaune during the Tour de France. Squint a little bit and it could be a generic kit you buy from Performance. That’s not to say it’s ugly, but maybe a bit uninspiring.
18. UAE Team Emirates
Welcome to the World Tour and welcome back the 1990’s! If someone told me these kits were inspired by those turn ahead the clock NHL jerseys, I’d like them a little better. Instead, they look like instant anachronisms from a few Olympiads ago.
17. BMC Racing Team
I was looking forward to this year’s kits for their redesign, but uggghhhh. If you’re looking at a glass half full, I do like the improvements with the jersey’s geometry. The downside: the big Tag Heuer billboards staked on their arms. Maybe these kits suffer the same way as Cannondale’s in that red and green don’t match, but the logos are so large and out of proportion that they’re a visual tractor beam. They look so much worse in person.
Ugly. Improved. Ugly. I though long and hard about repeat those words another 20x and I’d be fine with this entry, but since I’m here to type words… this year’s jersey is an improvement, but haven’t so many people been copying the TeamDreamTeam kits already? Plus, is teal Kazakstan’s biggest export than Borat. Dammit. I should have just repeated those words.
15. Fortuneo – Vital Concept
Fortuneo almost has the same problem as Wanty except they hired a designer to place objects around. It’s not exciting, but at least it’s a clean look. They do lose points for forcing their riders hold up advertisements in their bios. I bet their stage results will be less successful though…
14. Team Sunweb
Going to a simpler look worked when Marcel Kittel was on the team, but now this kit has got to go. Simple isn’t offensive, but this is so plain that it carries no elegance. Time to try something different.
13. Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
The most important personality on Project Runway by far is Tim Gunn. He in his critiques that even when sees a bad design that someone put their heart and soul into it. I respect Cannondale a lot because no matter what other sponsors they’ve been connected to, they’ve always stuck to that fluorescent green. Not the loveliest color out there. I loved last year’s kit until right before the Tour de France when Drapac got added as sponsor and their red logo was cut and pasted on. For 2017, POC has graduated from providing helmets to doing the whole kit. Tim would probably tell them to step back and have a look because this new look still isn’t working. They have not resolved the problem of Christmas colors that the New Jersey Devils gave up on after ten years. There’s also the issue with the black on the bottom of the jersey which combines with the shorts to have an ugly cummerbund effect. I don’t even care anymore if the argyle is still there. The only hope is that the kit is part of a design challenge for next season’s project runway.
12. Team Katusha – Alpecin
Last year’s kits were a huge upgrade from a look that was continually dated. This year’s kit has the same bold color scheme, but the execution is far less exciting. The Alpecin text is overwhelming and dampens all the other design elements. At least it makes me guess what Alpecin does. I’ll say pharmaceuticals.
11. Bora – hansgrohe
The jerseys look really good and even better in person. The green is a better accent than these photos show. I do get the feeling that if I had to rerank them five years from now they’d feel a bit plainer. Bottom Line – Keep your kits simple and they’ll rank well. Or mediocre.
10. Lotto Soudal
It’s tough to have two teams with almost the same name, but at least they’re easy to distinguish visually because on is clearly better looking. Lotto Soudal has a classic look, but it falls just short of what I’d call refined. At least this holdover is starting to make me forget some of the ugliness from year’s past.
9. Movistar Team
Movistar suffers from the same Groundhog Day problem as Confidis, but at least their kits look nicer. The change made two years ago to scale up the logo making It look more abstract and cartoony. This gets a thumbs up since changes with Movistar are normally subtle.
8. AG2R La Mondiale
Brown and teal as colors? That combination never sounds like a recipe for success, but year after year, AG2R somehow makes them work. The pattern and placement is so appropriately placed that the design would work with any colors. But going with two that shouldn’t just goes to show how much they stand behind their design work. Bonus points for that.
Orica has been improving year after year, but his season’s jersey is a big jump. Phasing out green from their usual color palette has something to do with it, but even the logos look updated and properly spaced. There’s also a nice use of symmetrical asymmetry.
6. Dimension Data
I don’t know exactly what type of work Dimension Data does, but it’s a safe guess that it’s something techie. These kits look like they could be worn by Silicon Beachers who would show off by wearing them to every group ride. And rightfully so since they look so good.
When you see pro sports teams doing the retro 70s look, it plays well now that those times as vastly behind us. FDR’s jerseys may not be of our time, but if you wake up from amnesia not knowing the year, they may be a welcome sight bringing back year’s past. Now if the jerseys could somehow make me remember someone from their team winning something, then that would be a greater achievement.
4. Trek Segafredo
In last year’s Tour de France ranking, I ranked Trek’s jerseys really high, although deep inside I felt my reason why didn’t have soul. Pinstripes and simplicity are two things I like when done very well, but limited use of color is what left me lacking. 2017: problem solved. I love the red at the top. It’s provides just the right accent and flair that allows me to finally use the word classy in this column. Simply said, well done.
3. Team Sky
Team Sky is in a difficult spot this year. Rapha’s designs have been simple, classic and always considered top tier. This message has also carried over in how the team performs as well. Now that this partnership has ended, this puts Castelli in a tough spot. They obviously can’t leave things alone because what’s the point being a designer? At the same time, going too far away from the standard really risks redefining the whole team’s image. That’s why I think their 2017 kit is a perfect balance between the two. While there’s room for more style points, I love the integration of the lines to represent the team’s successes from the year before. Switching to the white for the Tour de France works just as well. This gives room for next year’s kit to have a bit more freedom to find other ways to represent this theme. Kudos ….
2. Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
First off, I love the color balance. When the USA Olympic Team started adopting this darker blue, it was an improved look. Barhain – Merida did an excellent job balancing these two colors as the red really pops. The gold detail is contextual, well proportioned and an exquisite accent. It feels good to say nice things.
1. Direct Energie
Using black with yellow gives you an early advantage in the design process as the two colors work great together. What I love about these kits is that they are modern and elegant at the same time. All the elements are well spaced giving the jersey a clean look even with the wording. I have it ranked #1 even though I deducted points for not being a World Tour team.