“Son, you’ve done it. The call came through while you were out – you got a World Tour contract!” “No! You mean it? Which team?!”
Yup. That’s right lad. You’ve made the big time, amazing, but, at the same time humiliating. You’re going to have to wear one of the dullest top pro jerseys ever, and, if that wasn’t bad enough, brown shorts.
Well, I suppose if you have a ‘bad peach’ like Greg LeMond did in the 1986 Tour de France, brown shorts might just come in handy.
LeMond, stuck near the back of the bunch with a tummy in turmoil, turned to a teammate and said, “Pass me your hat.”
“What do you want my hat for?” asked the teammate, naturally enough.
“Please, just pass me the goddamn hat!” barked LeMond, then proceeded to shove said hat down the back of his shorts and take an almighty dump into it.
As they go, it wasn’t the best makeshift loo ever and Greg rode the rest of the stage with a wide area of space afforded to him, thanks to the streaks down the back of his legs and the flies hovering overhead.
But apart from that type of a situation, I can’t imagine there’s a great deal of excitement pulling on the Ag2r kit.
Next up in the Tour this year we have Lampre-Merida. Designed by the colour blind? Few love it, most don’t.
If you’ve embraced the recent flourish of fluoro on the fashionista catwalks recently maybe you do, but the combo of livid pink, blue and green looks more designed to stun opponents than win any design awards.
Then we have Astana. Kazakhstan is a hard nation, where men are men and mullets are de rigeur for those in vogue. How such a tough nation with a surprising production line of handy and hardened cyclists chose that blue and yellow for a national flag is a wonder.
Lance was probably more worried about wearing that kit on his comeback than any biological passport.
Sojasun got a wildcard entry to the 2013 Tour, which is a great achievement, but their kit looks like it was robbed from an Irish national kit circa 1988. Can’t see that one flying off the shelves anytime soon.
Bad kits from the past? Marco Pantani’s Mercatone UNO kit was pretty hard on the eyes, reminiscent of 1970s wallpaper. Pantani, aided by copious amounts of EPO, romped to his Tour win in that kit but there are rumors he just wanted to get to the finish line as fast as possible to change out of his gear.
Castorama in ’94 had a kit designed to look like a pair of overalls and achieved the effect with a scary efficiency. As you can see, Laurent Brochard loved the thing, and he’s credited with influencing Kazakh riders to this day.
Onto the good, let’s look at this year’s Tour kits and see if we can find any winners.
Sky’s kit is pretty cool but it has taken on the look of a bit of a Death Star uniform of late, such is the merciless slaughtering of opponents by the English team. That, and the fact that it is all black almost means ‘cool’ but not much ‘flair’, essential in any top notch kit in my opinion.
Omega Pharma’s kit looks much better in real life than on TV so that gets a nod, but again, slightly conservative.
Radioshack? Better last year.
Garmin-Sharp? Argyle? No thanks, this is cycling, not golf, whatever they all say.
The one kit I could actually wear is that of the brand new kids on the block – well, kind of new. Belkin.
I know, it looks a bit weird at first but there are some echoes there to the great jerseys of old. It’s simple yet rather cool, if you ask me.
I like the font, dig that there aren’t five different sponsor names on there, and though it is green I could get over that. Not too shabby.
However, to get to the truly great Tour de France jerseys you have to go further back.
Eddy Merckx’s Molteni jersey would have to be first for a look. Jeez, what a kit. Merino wool, classic lettering, burnt orange upper and lower with a black stripe. Now that’s a jersey.
Just ahead I’d plump for Jacque Anquetil’s St Raphael jersey – not his trade team jersey but the actual yellow jersey they made for him. Just supercool, the best yellow ever.
But in the top spot in my opinion is the La Vie Claire kit of the mid 80s. A work of art, literally. Inspired by the artist Piet Mondrian’s work, the jersey went through several versions but always retained its timeless class.
Bernard Hinault rocked it, LeMond graced it, it is without any serious doubt the top Tour jersey of all time.
*this article originally appeared in The Roar