Cycling kit makers Rapha revealed a "bold" design for the EF Education First WorldTour squad on Thursday, unveiling a neon pink and blue kit that is a departure from the company's previous understated look.
Rapha returns to the WorldTour in 2019 after being replaced in supplying Team Sky by Castelli in 2017. The EF Education First riders wore non-descript 'blackout' clothing during the Australian and New Zealand national championships to hold the big reveal for the eve of the Tour Down Under.
In its announcement, Rapha proclaimed that its "pared down designs" when it first started supplying pro teams "challenged the discordant kit of the time", and stated that "WorldTour team kits now follow a similar level of good taste". But the Slipstream organisation has a history of loud, argyle-themed designs, "so, when designing a new kit to return to the men's WorldTour, the aim was to continue this progressive approach while building on the strong design heritage of both EF and the team's history of bold kit."
The answer is a strikingly bright pink and blue fade made with high-tech aerodynamic fabrics and cuts in what Rapha calls the "most technically advanced and visually striking kit in the peloton".
The kit was "designed to be immediately recognisable" and to "ensure riders stay visible in the chaos of racing" as well as make racing "exciting for fans by disrupting the professional sport and bringing a new approach to team sponsorship".
The design was "inspired by the free spirit of the team and its riders, and their individual characters and styles", according to the press release. Rapha founder Simon Mottram said, "We love this sport but know it has to change. With our partnership with EF and this new kit design we hope to bring more excitement to racing and encourage more fans to follow the greatest sport in the world."
Edwards Hult, the North American CEO for EF Education First said they love the design. "It's bold and it will stand out in the peloton and beyond - especially as the EF Education First team embarks on a unique racing season. At EF, we believe that good things happen when people step outside their comfort zones and try something new. Our athletes do it all the time, and it's great to have a kit that celebrates them and that innovative spirit."
The team's American riders were in favour of the new look. Lawson Craddock said, "That's something that's never been seen in the peloton before. My wife is going to love this – we're going to be seen from outer space. It's complicated but it's very simple too. It's the attention to detail – it's very carefully thought out from top to bottom."
Taylor Phinney's reaction: "Fo' sho' dude, nobody looks this cool. I've always wanted to be part of a team where I felt good in kit. "
Nate Brown agreed. "I think this will be the best looking kit out there. We're gonna look slick. The way it blends in together is perfect. You guys did an excellent job. We'll stand out."
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