"RAPHA AND PALACE
That was the Slack message I received moments after the press release landed in the Cyclingnews inbox.
Not often does a press release force me to stop everything I'm doing, but when my phone flashed up with "Rapha + Palace Skateboards celebrate the return of Tour de France Femmes", the email was open before I'd even consciously processed what I'd read.
The backstory goes as follows: Each year at the Giro d'Italia, the men's team are forced to swap their kit out for another colour because their usual pink kit clashes with the race's maglia rosa; the pink jersey that marks the leader of the general classification.
In October 2020 – peak pandemic times – the Giro d'Italia was about to start, and they decided to have some fun with it. Collaborating with Palace Skateboards, the team rolled onto the stage for the teams' presentation aboard sticker-bombed Cannondale bikes wearing wild-looking Rapha jerseys, each complete with a cartoon duck adorning the front. To use a 21st-century phrase, it broke the internet.
It's happening again this July, with both men's and women's teams switching out their usual pink for an altogether new design. The squads have yet to be announced, but expect the likes of Rigoberto Urán, Neilson Powless, and Lauren Stephens to be sporting this during the next month.
If you thought the last one was weird, get ready because cycling, high fashion, streetwear, and the cool kids of skate culture are being mashed together once again, and the result is as wild as you hoped it'd be. Check the gallery above for the full rundown.
The usual pink of the EF teams remains – the Tour leader's jerseys are yellow, after all. In come blends of purple, blue, and white, while both jerseys feature a large female symbol and a pair of friendly-looking green dragons, because why not? Meanwhile, Palace logos adorn various spots around the jersey alongside regular team sponsors such as EF.
"I'm just thrilled with the kit that Rapha and Palace Skateboards have designed to celebrate the return of the women's Tour de France," founder and owner of EF Education-Tibco-SVB said, referring to the symbol that takes up the front of both jerseys.
"Women's cycling has been growing steadily over the past couple of decades, but the return of the Tour de France will accelerate this growth and further our search for equality. It's a true honor to have the EF Education-EasyPost men's team racing their Tour de France in a jersey that celebrates women's cycling. It's been a very long road to get to this point, and all of us, the riders, staff and management, realize the significance of this jersey and will be proud to wear it."
A second, slightly more subdued design has also been created, as a training jersey. This is predominantly grey and black by design, but with dragon-matching lime green sleeve cuffs and the large Palace triangle logo across the back.
Beneath this is where you'll find perhaps our favourite feature of all of these designs. The dragon, who doesn't yet have a name by the way, is peeking out of the centre pocket, with its claws holding onto the upper edges of the outer pockets.
Once again, the collaboration extends beyond the Rapha kit, though perhaps to the frustration of other partners, that's what will gain most of the attention. POC is once again involved, giving its bright pink helmets a similar dragon theme, with the scaly triangles of its tail wrapping around the brow of the lid, giving it an almost tooth-like design, reminiscent of the dinosaur helmet you'll probably buy for your kids one day.
Just as excitingly, Cannondale is also back with a brand new wrap, giving the team's SuperSix EVO, SystemSix and SuperSlice bikes a fancy blue, white and pink base that, if you squint, could almost be the French tricolore. Atop this returns the sticker bomb idea, with EF, Palace, Rapha logos, as well as the female symbol and more getting an allocation of real estate. Oh, and the dragons. Can't forget the dragons.
Partners Whoop, who supply wrist-based heart rate variability monitors and Wahoo, suppliers of cycling computers, are also getting involved with similar designs.
Can you buy Rapha's Palace collaboration?
Yes, if you're fast. All of the Rapha + Palace kit will be sold at Rapha's website, in "three drops at localised times" across the UK, EU, Canada, USA and Asia-Pacific territories, but the numbers will be very limited.
More will be available to existing RCC members... there'll be no signing up
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