Spot the difference

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A lot has been made about the trend of teams to adopt blue and black colours for this year. It’s almost symbolic of the sport’s bruised and battered status. But there are practical considerations, fans watching on TV can struggle to struggle to identify riders and teams. Indeed Peter Stetina joked about Team Sky and Garmin-CervĂ©lo sharing bags at the feedzone, implying it was hard to spot which soigneur to collect the food bag from.

But black, white and yellow is another popular combo. Watching video from the Tour of Oman, I was finding it hard to distinguish between Geox, Topsport Vlaanderen and Farnese Vini. In the image below, there’s a Geox rider on the wheel of a Farnese Vini rider. There are visual clues, the helmets for example but the black shorts and the fluo yellow shoulders are surprisingly similar.

Geox Farnese

In the image below we have a Topsport Vlaanderen rider leading a Geox rider. Note the black shorts and a white jersey with a black panel.

Topsport Geox

Sorry for the quality of the screen grabs but this almost makes my point. If these shots on the riders are a bit fuzzy, imagine trying to pick out the riders from a helicopter shot on a dark day?

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{ 17 comments }

Danger February 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Geraint Thomas on Twitter 18 Jan

“Today I kept riding up to Garmin guys thinking they were my team mates. Think they should swap helmets with Movistar, that would sort it…”

12 speed February 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Is there a way to avoid this? Maybe get all teams to talk so we don’t get this.

Chrissie February 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

they all look kinda retro. straight from the 90s

nice blog, i’m enjoying the mix.

Chrissie, San Francisco

bikecellar February 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Race numbers with more visual impact from a distance perhaps? or as noted differing helmet colours?

Jason February 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I have found RadioShack and BMC rather idfficult to differentiate when they are moving. Red makes a great accent, but not top to bottom.

ColoradoGoat February 18, 2011 at 12:14 am

Still better than going back to the awful 1990′s Mapei days.

The issue is not so much the design of the kits, but the fact that so many sponsors have themselves gone to the standard Blue, Red, Black or White color schemes.

One way to get around this is to require each team to sport a specific solid color on their helmets, regardless of the team kit design. Or perhaps even a special color sleeve or sleeve market would be required.

Mike February 18, 2011 at 12:17 am

In football (soccer) you’d have an away strip, or wear differing shirts/shorts/socks to differentiate you from the opposition if kits matched too closely. Indeed, in cycling we’ve had ONCE in the 1990s change their yellow jerseys for pink at the Tour, as did Mecantone Uno in the early 2000s, to avoid undermining the visibility of the Maillot Jaune. Because pro cycling only exists around commercial sponsors, these days no team really has a traditional kit, a colour that is truly theirs, so it’s down to fashion rather than visibility … so you’re gonna get lots of teams looking alike.

Paul February 18, 2011 at 12:37 am

ColoradoGoat, the fact that the ’90′s Mapei kits are STILL being discussed, in some way, shows just how GOOD they were.

Gillis February 18, 2011 at 2:17 am

I always wondered why teams didn’t take this more into consideration. Lampre has been able to win on this account for sometime, albeit at the cost of an ugly kit. The old vertical stripes of the Kelme squad comes to mind as well.
It’s hard when the kit designs and sponsors change every year, and to “look cool” and be recognizable is difficult. Even with Sky’s new outfits I found it hard to identify them in the helicopter shots because of their white back panels.
The designers never seem to realize that the detail gets lots after about 2 meters. Bold colors and simple geometric designs are key.

Starr February 18, 2011 at 4:01 am

Mapei, Domina Vacanze, Kelme, etc…
These teams are remembered not only for their big results, but their sense of marketing style.
Can’t sell your product out of a 200 rider peleton looking nondescript.
Go for stripes, polka dots, vibrant colors, whatever, just get noticed.

The Inner Ring February 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

All good comments. I suppose we have a situation here where all teams are designing their kit blind to what the others are doing. The kit doesn’t exist for helicopter TV images, more for podiums and victory salutes, but something very visible does help get noticed. Yet stripes and polka dots can be good but often doesn’t fit with corporate branding.

Paul February 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

Overalls. I’m thinking overalls look good on a bike.

Paul February 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

aka…Castorama

ColoradoGoat February 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Another factor that I overheard someone bring up was the fact that the ability to re-sell these jerseys to the general cycling public is a huge factor. I think cycling fans are balking at riding around in loud, often visually challenging jerseys. The Rapha phenomenon exists exactly because of a response to this, and this has slowly crept into the designs of pro teams. No offense to Liquigas-Cannondale, but I would much rather go riding around in a Team Leopard kit than a Liquigas kit.

Bikephil February 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I’m still waiting for the Carrera jeans denim look to come back to bib shorts designs…

bikecellar February 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I am waiting for the Acrylic/Flock lettering 2nd time around!

CraigyLlyn February 20, 2011 at 9:36 am

Mario Cipollini should design all teams kit!!!

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