Every year, top-flight professional cycling teams (called the UCI WorldTour) release their new jersey designs before the racing begins which often leads to the question "Which team has the best jersey?" by cycling fans.
It's a crucial attraction for each and every sponsor that the riders are rolling billboards and with new teams, sponsors, logos and colours it's inevitable that the designs are a compromise between all of the various brand's corporate guidelines. It's the same very season - sometimes the jerseys look better - however the reverse is often just as true!
But let's take a look at all 18 WorldTour team jerseys for the new season - ranking them from worst to best!
Yes Giordana have improved it compared to the MOA version of 2016, but there's no getting away from it, it's an awful colour and the yellow logos add further damage!
Alé have taken over for 2017, going for a "It's if ain't broken - don't fix it" route! The loyal French National Lottery have backed Marc Madiot's team for years, but the team kit is a how-to guide on "design by brand guidelines". Let's not mention the white shorts either...
Champion Systems are providing the UAE Abu Dhabi team with team kit - saddled with some very last minute problems due to TJ Sports pulling out at the last-minute. The custom clothing manufacturer have produced a pretty basic design, but who knows - maybe they'll offer up a new design mid-way through the season a la Team High Road in 2008.
As part of the press release, Vermarc produced a neat infographic/timeline showing the history of the Quickstep jersey design since 2003 when they took over as the team's headline sponsor after Mapei's withdrawl. This did however reinforce the fact that the 2017 design is actually one of the weaker designs! 2013 is clearly the best one - sorry Vermarc.
Taking over from Santini, LottoNL-Jumbo will use Shimano’s own brand S-Phyre range in 2017 with very little design change. The team already use the Dura-Ace components and PRO wheels so the tie-up make sense. Shimano already use the S-Phyre moniker with their high performance road and MTB shoes and now more into an already over-crowded marketplace with their own range of the premium clothing. In the press release there's the usual "designed in collaboration with the riders" and with the might of Shimano behind it I guess they'll gain some traction - probably with more neutral versions of the kit.
For 2017 BMC brings Assos back to the WorldTour after decades away and brings blue-chip brand Tag Heuer to the peloton on a white canvas on the shoulders - something which I feel spoils the look of the kit a little. Olympic champions Greg Van Avermaet (2016) and Samuel Sánchez (2008) getting gold detailing on their jerseys which is a nice touch - as unlike a world champion - they cannot have Olympic rings on their jerseys due to the strict IOC guidelines.
It will be odd seeing the Alpecin logo on another team! Pleasingly, they've removed that god-awful, hugely dominant K that was such a bold feature of last years kit to accommodate the incoming Alpecin logo. Contrast to Kremlin red is provided by the baby blue on the sleeve cuffs/bib shorts grippers as well as colour-coded baby blue coloured Giro helmets.
For 2017, both the male and female riders for the team will have identical kit whereas in 2016 they two teams rode under two different banners Giant/Alpecin and Liv/Plantur. Without any doubt, the kit from Exteondo will be top-notch, however the actual design is not as good as last year and the font use for the Sunweb logo is hardly inventive!
2017 will see further research and development by Etxeondo into some innovative use of the Dyneema reinforced fabric to protect the riders in the event of a crash.
Many will be surprised to see AG2R inside the top ten, however if you take the brown shorts out of the equation, the jersey design by GSG is a definite improvement. The problem is, you can't take the brown shorts out of the equation, so it's still never going to be on anybody's wish list. Still it's great to see GSG back in the top flight as they are a quality manufacturer that still make everything in house. Old fashioned in this day and age, but for me, very re-assuring!
Dimension Data continues with Oakley clothing for 2017 - with no real change in design. When the kit was released in 2016 I'm sure many fans didn't even know who made the kit - Oakley certain went for a soft launch into the cycling clothing market.
A press release hints at the eyewear brand they'll be producing a full range of cycle clothing - just what the market needs - another brand trying their hand at cycle clothing!
Orica - GreenEDGE changed their kit design last year in time for the Tour de France (to accommodate a slight change in title sponsorship to Orica-BikeExchange) but what most fans noticed was the predominately white jersey turning navy which was no bad thing.
The 2017 Giordana kit features the same dark blue/navy colour but with the addition of their bike supplier Scott’s logos in a yellow - making it look less like the Movistar kit!
The retro feel to the Lotto - Soudal kit continues in 2017 giving it a classy look. Whilst there are not many changes for this season, Vermarc produced a nice infographic (another one) explaining what all logos on the team's jersey. Black bib shorts keep the design classy with a equally sensible German Champion jersey for Andre Greipel.
It's hard to detect the differences between the 2016 and 2017 Movistar jerseys - let's hope the riders can! Endura are still the kit supplier, with Canynon the bikes however the bigger change is with the helmets with the iconic Catlike helmets making way for Abus helmets (Abus normally know for high-security locks).
With Castelli supplying Team Sky - it was perhaps only a matter of time before they'd drop Jonathan Vaughters' Cannondale - Drapac team from their line up. Not just from a budgetary point of view, but also to keep a more streamlined marketing message. With POC already a technical partner supplying helmets/eyewear (and a power in Nordic ski wear) they now supply the team kit with a tasteful green and red kit featuring some subtle Argyle details.
Seeing a Sportful logo on the Trek - Segafredo jersey came as a bit of a surprise to me. Previously it was Trek's in-house Bontrager parts, accessories and clothing brand that had supplier the kit, but for 2017 Sportful take over for this Trek supplied team (as they do for the Women's Drops cycling team).
Red, Black and white is always a great three-colour combination for cycling kit and Sportful have done the design alot of favours by reducing the white to a contrast/detailing colour and giving over the top half of the jersey to a strong red colour that is mirrored by the bikes that the team will use. It's pleasing to see the pin-stripes retained as well!
The riders have a fluro-yellow version for training - whether that's for replica sales as opposed to a concern for rider's personal safety I'm unsure - the red version is pretty visabile afterall.
As mentioned in my previous article, the biggest announcement over the Winter was from Castelli who announced their partnership with Team Sky in November taking over after Rapha who supplied the team 2013 - 2016 as part of a four-year partnership. I can't imagine that Castelli were given much freedom to radically change the tried and tested design of the worlds most exspensive team, but they've made some subtle changes which shouldn't upset too many fans.
Designed by Richard Pearce (who is also responsible for David Millar's Chpt./// designs) the "morse code" data pattern (WorldTour races are represented with blue - others are white) is there on the team jerseys, shorts, mitts, socks and caps to represent the victories that Team Sky have had during 7 seasons of racing. Presumably Edvald Boasson Hagen's win in 2010 at the Oslo GP is on a sock cuff somewhere?
The front of the jersey is made up of victories by 2017 team members (the exception to the rule being Wiggin's 2012 Tour de France victory). The longest lines are devoted to the team's four Tour de France victories, short dashes are one-day races, while the medium, variable-length lines represent other stage races.
Do I like it? Yes, however watching the action from the Tour Down Under, the lines were not very visible which is a shame given the effort that's gone into them, but perhaps that was all part of the plan?
Without doubt, Sagan's move to the Bora - Hansgrohe team was big news and Craft must have been well pleased to land one of the sports biggest names! I feel they have done a great job on the design - I particularly like the small dots against the black background that also feature on the bib shorts and socks - not that you'll see them on Sagan's rainbow jersey.
Craft is well know for it's amazing selection of base layers, so you can be sure to see Sagan sporting those throughout the season.
Velonews have recently produced a fascinating and in-depth article about Sagan's move to Bora - Hansgrohe - it's well worth a read - more so than my blog article if I'm 100% honest.
First thing's first. This blog article is about Which WorldTour team has the best jersey for 2017 - it's not about which WorldTour team's sponsors have got the best reputation!
It's fair to say the idea behind the new Bahrain cycling team was controversial due to the multiple allegations involving the team's backer Prince Nasser but I'm just interested in how the jersey/kit design looks and I feel Sportful have done a tremdous job. From the tasteful colours involved through to a simple yet high effective design, I feel the Bahrain - Merida is the best of (a bad) bunch.
It looks good on the TV, it stands up well on the various social channels although I'm yet to see it in print in a magazine. Sportful have also done a decent job on the sublimation of the gold on the jerseys as gold is not an easy colour to get right in the manufacturing process.