Sure, it’s a bike race, not a fashion parade. But looking good goes a long way. Stylish kits and elegant riders stay in the mind long after they’re off the scene.
One factor governs the appearance of pro cycling kit: the sponsor. The primary and secondary backers are putting in the dosh, so they get the say. Usually, it follows corporate logos and colours. That has led to a few dazzling designs, but a fair few drab and dire ones too.
Adam Blythe is a man who cares – and knows – about looking good. In recent years, the sprinter has pulled off everything from white shorts and jersey, snakeskin shoes and headbands with aplomb.
Recently, the former British champion, who races for Team Aqua Blue Sport, disagreed with one pick in our pro cycling’s top 10 terrible kits article.
So, we decided to get his take on cycling style and the peloton’s good, bad and ugly jerseys.
Adam Blythe’s cycling style no-gos
“Short, short socks for racing is a big no-go. Socks that don’t match or different colour ones too – like one red, one blue sock. Or a pair that is the same colour, but one says Dave and the other says Adam.”
“Helmets which rest on top of your glasses. Some people have them so far down their forehead that they have no forehead showing.”
“Bright-coloured handlebar type. Or not a colour tape – Dimension Data use that stuff that just looks mucky. You need to use black or white, really, unless you’re in some sort of jersey – if it’s yellow, yellow bar tape is okay.
“Bike fits as well: people need to stop with all these bike fits and go back to actually looking good on a bike. Everyone should try and look like Michele Bartoli or Alessandro Petacchi on a bike. There’s so many people out there whose bikes fit them terribly – a lot of pros as well. And please, no spacers.”
“You see the odd jersey, like the [Chazal] one I tweeted about (above), where there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s perfect, it’d look brilliant in Italy, it’s only ‘cos in England everyone has to wear black or block colours.
“Which I think is lovely, but there’s no flamboyancy any more, is there? No-one has an individual character, they all look like everyone’s part of the Rapha Cycling Club.”
Adam Blythe’s good pro kits
“My all-time favourite kit is Fassa Bortolo. I think the bike, the jersey and shorts, that era where they weren’t wearing helmets out training, is what looked the best for me.
Petacchi and Pozzato were there; all the greats, Vandenbroucke and Bartoli too. It’s that period between 1995 and 2003 for me.”
“Saeco is good too, there’s a nice style with all the Cannondale bikes back then, they were quite modern. Plus Cipollini always did mad stuff with it.
I think our Aqua Blue Sport kit is good. Navy and gold obviously looks great, those colour combos have been around for ages. I really like it, quite classy.”
“My favourite was my own national champion’s kit. I just said I wanted it all white, please, as much as you can fit on there – and that’s what they did.”
“I think sleeveless jerseys are good. Nowadays, if you took 90 per cent of the pro peloton and put them in normal clothes, shorts and a t-shirt, they’d all look like idiots. They’ve all got tan lines down to their elbows.
It’s the length of everything nowadays: socks, shorts and sleeves are getting longer … The only team I’ve noticed that doesn’t have ridiculous length sleeves is Movistar – and I think it’s great. Arm length on your jersey should be at least halfway up your bicep.”
Adam Blythe’s bad pro kits
“Wanty-Groupe Gobert with their orange handlebar tape and yellow helmet straps, yellow socks and blue kit. A lot of colours, but not matching. I think it all just looks wrong.”
“Euskaltel was quite bad. [Ed – but I liked how they committed to it, with orange bikes, helmets and kit]. But it was like dirty orange, wasn’t it? But it’s true they did commit, which is a good thing, they didn’t hold back.
With Ag2r-La Mondiale, brown is a bit of an odd colour short, it would be nice if it was just black or the white maybe carried down into the rest of the kit. FDJ have got a great kit.
But I think it’s down to riders making kit look good too. Now Bardet’s doing brilliantly in the team, it’s not so bad anymore.”
Further reading: Rouleur’s top 10 terrible pro kits