Which Pro teams have you ridden for…(in your mind)
Words and photography by Terry Hawes
The greats rode for even greater teams but who are you when you don your favourite team kit:
Simpson? Merckx? Pantani? Cavendish? Wiggins? Armstrong?(!) Simpson talks to some blissfully deluded riders.
I’ve ridden with team kit for years and even occasionally worn it around town when off the bike (jersey only, obviously, not shorts. I’m no freak). I like the teams’ different colours and graphics. The designs on show demonstrate how pro cycling is still very much a continental thing. Maybe there’s some appeal in the romance of wearing kit that only the cognoscenti will understand. It’s not like donning a football shirt - despite its recent popularity surge, cycling is still very much a minority sport in this country. But that sense of belonging to a larger entity is still very much present.
In recent years cycling has moved into the public domain a lot more. These days, far more people have some knowledge of how cycling works, be it road or track. Events like the Tour de France and more recently the Olympics have boosted interest no end. With this greater awareness has come a better understanding of which teams and riders stand out as the ones to follow.
This new popularity has been reflected by a growth in demand for merchandise such as replica team kit and accessories. I know some riders who still think it’s wrong that these things are generally available. They say you should only wear the kit of a team that you actually ride for in real life. I can see their point I suppose but I find it hard to fully agree. I think everyone has always secretly wanted to ride in the kit of their favourite stars but it just wasn’t readily available. Now cyclists are free to wear whatever they want. I recall reading that even Tom Simpson, before he rode on the continent, would sport a foreign cycling jersey on a club run.
The demand is definitely there these days and is being met by all the major cycle clothing manufacturers, whatever the views of the nay-sayers, some of whom will never be happy. I once wore a replica world champ’s jersey to a new cycle shop in Ipswich being opened by cycle commentator Hugh Porter. He came up to me and made clear his view on the matter but later realised I meant no disrespect.
Some bike manufacturers also offer team replica models, allowing fans to go one step further with their pro-team aspirations. You now can be Bradley Wiggins and ride his replica all-yellow Tour Pinarello. And to complete the look check out nobi.co.uk for a replica race-style ‘101’ number - leaving no doubt who you ride for!
RIDER: Terry Hawes
TEAM: Rapha Condor JLT
Maybe a bit lost in the shadow of Team Sky, the Rapha Condor JLT kit still does it for me. The distinctive black, white and pink strip stands out and is instantly recognisable. Even though they have a new sponsor this year, I’m glad the team kit has retained the same design.
RIDER: Dominick Bacon
TEAM: Domo-Farm Frites
I’ve had this jersey 10 years so now. I use it mainly on the sponsored charity bike rides I occasionally enter. I was given this jersey as a Christmas present from an old school friend. Not many people call me by an abridged version of my name but this guy does. It seemed only fitting to ride for a team bearing my name (I realise it’s pronounced differently but its the thought that counts). I’ve even taken the team thing a stage further by buying a matching team bottle!
RIDER: David Fernandes
TEAM: Liberty Seguros
I wear this jersey with pride as it’s the only Portuguese pro team I can find. Although Liberty Seguros were only a third division squad in Portugal, launched on the back of the main Spanish outfit (now disbanded - the drugs issue again) - I don’t care! For me it feels good to have an affinity with the home of my ancestors as well as ride in the colours of a pro team.
It might sound daft but when I’m miles away from my destination and my energy reserves are dwindling - my spirit is lifted by just realising who it is I’m supposedly riding for. I really felt this last year when I competed in the Deloittes ‘Ride Across Britain’ event - an equivalent of the Land’s End to John O’Groats ride. It’s one of the toughest events I’ve ridden in so far - if not the toughest - but I made it through okay. And now I’m getting ready for the next big challenge.
RIDER: Stuart Wadsworth
TEAM: Euskaltel Euskadi
I’m a recent convert to road cycling and just love it! I ride an Orbea and was advised to capitalise on its Basque heritage by sporting a Euskaltel Euskadi team jersey. As with all the best cycling jerseys, this one’s spot on when it comes to fit and practicality. It’s a bonus for me that this jersey can double up (to a certain degree) as a hi-vis style item of clothing. The more I get into the sport the more I understand the significance of the team on the world pro cycling circuit.
Maybe I’ll step everything up a notch by introducing some gold bar tape and possibly upgrading to to a pair of gold Sidi shoes in the style of ex-Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez - not a word to the wife though. It’s also a point of amusement to me that the sponsor of the team jersey is the Spanish equivalent of BT, who just happens to be my current employer. Maybe it’s their turn to sponsor a team?
RIDER: Mark Harrison
Growing up in North Wales I became a mountain biker in the ’90s. Like most cyclists, I have a geeky side, coveting technology, carbon and expensive metals. But I bought cycle clothing on a purely functional basis. After all, most of the time it would be covered in cow poo.
When I found myself living in the mountain-free southeast, I turned my back on the mud and became a fully fledged roadie. I started to enter charity sportives and, eventually, a L2P ride with Action Medical Research.
I figured “I’m doing a long ride. I must have a new bike. I must also have new kit.” I chose to emulate the most (in)famous cyclist of the age: Lance Armstrong’s Astana strip. The following year I bought it again.
But to be honest none of the above matters in the end because when I saw the Astana kit my brain said “yes” and everything I’ve just written is a feeble attempt to hide the underlying fact that it just likes the colours.