“Speak up - I can’t hear over that kit.”
Oleg Tinkov's men have been training in their ’La Datcha’ duds: a migraine-inducing collection of black and white stripes, complete with fluro yellow chest panel. Oakley have produced, ahem, complimentary glasses, though this is surely only to comply with health and safety regulation.
Perhaps this is Tinkov’s revenge on the sport for its failure to add to his gigantic wealth rather than deplete it, as he prepares for his final season as a team owner. Alternatively, it might be the first sign of freedom from Saxo Bank’s restraining influence. It’s difficult to imagine an outfit more lacking in Scandinavian reserve.
Tinkov’s latest crime against fashion (remember the celebratory pink mop at the Giro?) comes at a time of year when the peloton unleashes new kits upon the sport’s unsuspecting fan base.
Katusha have managed to place two different shades of red on a single jersey, producing a colour clash worthy of any low budget restaurant chain. Add a third shade of red for the bike and Ekimov’s men have something approaching a psychological weapon: an aesthetic capable of inducing mild nausea in their rivals.
The official line is grander, of course. Katusha’s patchwork affair is a bid to cast off the team’s Russian identity in pursuit of greater international appeal, and what better way to achieve such lofty ambition than by adding more variations of a colour synonymous with its homeland?
Other teams have opted for similarly wholesale change. IAM Cycling, once purveyors of the peloton’s classiest kit, have traded navy blue for white with disastrous effect.
And Etixx-Quickstep’s increasingly understated ensemble (more black than turquoise in 2015, and all the better for it) has been scrapped in favour of LIDL blue, offset by the supermarket’s glaring red and yellow logo, worn by Marcel Kittel in the publicity shots with a frozen smile.
Louis Meintjes might be another who longs for the simple black and white stripes of his previous employer. Lampre-Merida have opted for a ‘still broke, don’t fix it’ approach for 2016, extending the collision of blue, fuschia and pea green to the riders’ shoes.
It’s not all bad. Movistar have largely retained their classy blue and green strip of recent years, adding only dashes of white for 2016, perhaps in acknowledgement of Nairo Quintana’s triumph in the Tour’s best young rider competition.
And while next year Sky blue will no longer be the shade to which we’ve become accustomed, it cannot be counted as an assault on the senses. The new shade has presumably been tested for a blend of UV resistance and aerodynamic purity and found superior to its predecessor; marginally, of course.
Elsewhere, it’s a case of “as you were” for the most part. BMC Racing continue with Dennis the Menace-approved black and red (perhaps in deference to Rohan), and the Lottos NL-Jumbo and Soudal will be unchanged for 2016. The addition of a Segafredo logo to Trek’s pinstripes presents little deviation.
Which returns us to Team Tinkoff, whose race jersey next season will be the same livid shade of yellow as last. The legend Tinkoff is placed front and centre, naturally, with an outsized crest below. The shorts are paler than their predecessors, but still a modest blue. All things considered, it ain’t too bad.
We’ll pass La Datcha though, Oleg, ‘pon the left hand side. Or the right, come to that.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
148 - racing days on the UCI WorldTour calendar
61 - racing days accounted for by ASO events
0 - ASO events scheduled for UCI WorldTour calendar in 2017
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