Men’s WorldTour kits of 2021: The good, the bad and the ugly

Men’s WorldTour kits of 2021: The good, the bad and the ugly


The flag has fallen on the first races of the season, and with that, cycling lurches into a new year.

Riders have found new teams, teams have found new sponsors, and graphic designers have agonised over logo placements. And now, we have a whole new peloton of fresh kits to rate and/or hate. 

As is our custom, it’s time for the annual (highly scientific, objectively correct and non-negotiable) CyclingTips Kit Ranking. First up, we’ve got the men’s peloton, and Abby Mickey is hard at work on the women’s equivalent.

Let’s get stuck in.

The podium

3. Astana – Premier Tech

Photo: Astana – Premier Tech.

Astana is not a team I have much time for, but my goodness, haven’t they done well for themselves this year. Where last year’s outfit had awkwardly squished logos and a boring minimalism to it, this year’s kit adds a fade, some texture in a diamond pattern, and navy blue instead of black bibs. 

It’s not all that interesting from a distance, where it’s a little Movistar-y, but it’s much nicer when you can see the details up close:

The team also has one of the prettiest bikes in the peloton, along with one of the funniest sponsors, the glocal peat-packing titan Premier-Tech

For all of these reasons, while I will continue to fail to support them, I now like them ever so slightly more.

2. AG2R La Mondiale Citroën

Over the course of its lengthy existence, the AG2R kit has lurched back and forth between blandness and infamy. But over the years, there has been one constant – brown shorts.

For better or worse, the team has again taken a return journey to Brown Town – but for once, that’s not the dominant feature.

The addition of French car-maker Citroën as a naming rights sponsor seems to have reinvigorated the team’s visual identity, with a kit that now features dramatic and oversized typographical elements splashed across the chest.

There are too much talents on these pictures, it’s true. But riders aside, we’re here for the kit – which is a bit love it or hate it, most notably because it reads as ‘AG2R La Citroen Mondiale’, which the team is absolutely not called.

Nonetheless, I’m writing the list and I rate it, so that’s that. 

1. EF Education-Nippo

Photo: EF Education-Nippo

Last year, EF-Education First slid into second spot, behind Trek-Segafredo.

In hindsight, I made a whoopsie.

After a year of living with the blunders of 2020, I am prepared to correct the record to show that EF-Education First was the most charismatic kit of the year, and Trek-Segafredo was the most stylish while also lacking a little je ne sais quoi. 

Onward.

EF-Education Nippo – which gains a new naming-rights sponsor in the “Japanese leader in construction and material production of paving industry”, Nippo – takes the title this year. This year, the swirly business is toned back, replaced with a cheeky dig at the UCI that harks back to the team’s phenomenal, non-UCI compliant Rapha x Palace Giro kit

While there are now 100% fewer ducks and it’s not even a little bit of an acid trip, EF’s new kit looks exceptional.

I’m also particularly pleased that Nippo’s on board, because their most recent Facebook post, blasted out to a heady 200 followers three years ago, is maybe the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. 

Also good

Trek-Segafredo

Trek-Segafredo’s kit remains unchanged from last year’s winning design.

It’s certainly one of the most stylish of the crop, with simple blocks of navy blue, red and white, and is probably the kit that would sit most comfortably alongside the heritage-rich classics of decades past. 

Bora-Hansgrohe

The German team of Peter Sagan, Daniel Oss et al keeps its green, black and white palate from last year’s Tour de France kit. Accented by a couple of red logos, it’s comfortably one of the cleanest and classiest kits of the peloton. 

Groupama-FDJ 

Imagine, if you will, a world in which Groupama-FDJ did not have a red, white and blue kit. 

You’re quite right: it can’t be done. 

While this year’s kit looks virtually identical to last year’s (and the year before, and the year before, and on and on back to the 1990s …), there’s a modest tweak to the graphics on the flanks with a fan-like motif. Meanwhile, the national champions on the squad get the best national champs kits in cycling. 

Team Jumbo-Visma

Jumbo-Visma took a leap forward in 2020 to become the most dominant team in the men’s peloton. From the one-day classics to the Grand Tours, the Dutch squad was phenomenal, and they’ll be looking to replicate that success in 2021. 

The team’s yellow and black kit sees some subtle tweaks, particularly on the sleeves, which get the Cervelo logo thanks to Jumba-Visma’s change in bike sponsor. 

In other news, trigger warning – anaphylaxis:

Team Qhubeka Assos

Team Qhubeka Assos scraped into existence at the last possible moment, with a South African bicycle charity and a luxury Swiss cycling kit brand throwing the former Team NTT a lifeline. Because of its last-gasp continuation, the Team Qhubeka Assos kit was one of the final of this year’s batch to be released. 

It features a predominantly black and white palate that’s reminiscent of the team’s Dimension Data era, along with lime green highlights and the Qhubeka ‘helping hand’ logo deployed generously everywhere from the helmet to the Kuku penthouse.  

From ‘neutral’ to ‘nope’

Ineos Grenadiers

Ineos switched kits mid last-year, which is a good thing seeing as their sinister, typographic horror-show came dead last on our 2020 list. 

This year they’ve stuck with that mid-year rebrand, proudly advertising a derivative 4WD across the chest. The colours are nice and it’s quite tidy, without going so far as to actually be, y’know, interesting. 

Lotto Soudal

Last year I gave Lotto-Soudal a podium place for their retro-leaning kit. This year, they haven’t changed a thing, and I no longer like it anywhere near as much. 

Movistar

A team as old as its star rider, Alejandro Valverde, Movistar maintains the status-quo this year in a number of ways – from their kit to the return of their weirdly melancholic Netflix documentary series. 

All of which means that I look forward to again seeing this dull-looking team implode across my TV screen in a cavalcade of sorrowful Spanish.

Intermarché Wanty Gobert Materiaux

At the 2019 Tour de France, Wanty Groupe Gobert had an extremely covetable team trucker hat that I badly wanted, but never got my hands on.

This year, the team steps up to WorldTour level, has no trucker hat, has a gazillion sponsors on the front of its jersey, and somehow still manages to pull it off.

It’s messy and as Euro as hell, but that fits the team’s scrappy underdog mentality. I look forward to a big year in ironic pursuit of obscure Wanty merch.

Deceuninck-QuickStep

Deceuninck-QuickStep doubles down on its toxically masculine ‘Wolfpack’ identity, incorporating swirls on the shoulders that are meant to evoke fur. (I wish I was joking.) 

While the team has some of the most charismatic and successful cyclists in the sport, including world champion Julian Alaphilippe, they need to get rid of the boyz club persona ASAFP because I can smell the Lynx Africa through the screen and it makes my skin crawl. 

Otherwise – great colours; window frames, laminate and alcohol-free beer as sponsors; now with 100% more Cav. 

Israel Start-Up Nation

Israel Start-Up Nation is looking to make a splash in 2021 thanks to the signing of multiple Grand Tour winner Chris Froome to the roster.

The team’s kit seems to reflect this anticipated jump in professionalism, with a more subdued navy blue and white design that is less polarising than last year, but also much less interesting. 

On the upside, they now prominently feature hummus in their promotional videos.

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits

Cofidis is nothing if not consistent in sticking to its jaunty red, yellow and white colour scheme.

This year their kit is unchanged from 2020, right down to the red bibs. Even if it’s not what I’d call a ‘good’ kit, at least Cofidis has the fortitude to live its truth. 

 Team BikeExchange 

In 2020, Mitchelton-Scott had one of the worst kits in the peloton, and went to the brink in a spicy Spanish takeover from Manuela Fundacion.

Are the two things connected? I’m not ruling it out. 

Now things have settled into a new normal with renewed investment from team owner Gerry Ryan, a change in bike sponsor to Bianchi, and – thank goodness – a new kit. It’s a little corporate and a little bland, but the celeste is a nice addition and it’s a massive step up, so I’m not complaining. 

Team DSM 

The team formerly known as Sunweb acquired a new naming rights sponsor in DSM, a multi-pronged Dutch company working in health, nutrition and sustainability.

That means that the white, black and red designs of previous years are a thing of the past, replaced with Team Sky-esque light blue stripes. 

It is … fine?

 UAE-Team Emirates

UAE-Team Emirates had a monster of a season last year, most notably due to Tadej Pogacar’s Tour de France win. This year their kit – which is not one of the lovelier of the peloton – adds some thin yellow bands in honour of the Pog.

There’s also a red/black fade on the arms, which looks a bit like thermal mapping of the armpit area under stress. 

Bahrain – Victorious 

Scene: Interior, opulent palace. Date-palm trees sway outside the portico. Two men – the accused human rights abuser SHEIKH NASSER BIN HAMAD AL KHALIFA and a perspiring NERVOUS KIT DESIGNER – confer around a table, on which assorted fabric swatches and moodboards are scattered.

NASSER: Last year, my friend, you created something glorious. The mango, the red and the blue were like no other bicycle outfit on earth. Our sights move to 2021 and the elevated glory of Bahrain through the medium of sport.

[NASSER reaches for his cup of tea. DESIGNER visibly flinches]

DESIGNER: Your excellency, thank you. Taking into account the changes of sponsorship and your personal requests, I am delighted to present the new season’s bicycle outfit.

NASSER: Did you remove McLaren from the front?

DESIGNER: I did, your excellency, on account of the fact that they are no longer a sponsor, although I am glad to see that they are still owned by the Royal Family.

NASSER: Do we still have Ugly Luxury Watch Brand, Richard Mille, on the books?

DESIGNER: No, sir, but I have kept the blue stripes regardless.

NASSER: Good. Good. We settled on Bahrain-Victorious as the team name, is that not so?

DESIGNER: It is, sir, because we are nothing if not Bahrain-Optimistic.

NASSER: In my moodboard, I asked for a visual metaphor for the fossil fuel industry. Do we have a mass of petroleum company logos, and black and red swirls evoking the end of days, as per my request?

DESIGNER: Your excellency, we do. It is a cursed hellscape of a bicycle outfit.

The ProTeams that we care about

The ProTeam classification features a mix of obscure teams and big names. Some of these squads are thunderingly dull. Others have great kits that would probably land them on the CT Kit Podium if they were WorldTour teams.

In no particular order, these are the ones that I can be bothered writing about.

Arkea-Samsic: No change, which means that we won’t need to mentally rewire our minds for Nairoman- and Wawa-watch.

Burgos-BH: Minor tweaks to the logos on the arms, but disappointingly not a return to the bonkers half purple/half red days of 2019. 

Alpecin-Fenix: If this wasn’t being worn by the handsome and exciting Mathieu van der Poel, none of us would care about this team and its bland shampoo-shilling kit; prove me wrong.

Total Direct Energie: Although this looks like a club kit, I’m quite into it. And now that my second-favourite Norwegian cyclist, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, is on the team, I’ve finally got a reason to care about the sporting fates of Total Direct Energie.

Delko: Regrettably we won’t see much of this kit, because Delko is not one of the upper-echelon ProTeams. But it’s outstanding.

B&B Hotels p/b KTM: For 2021, the Men in Glaz lose Vital Concept as a naming rights sponsor, but continue to have one of the best kits in the sport. The design, according to the designer, evokes the region of Brittany: “The black dots that complete this patchwork are the fruit of my emotions. A kind of bubbling, because everything comes crashing down. Like the remnants of a gust of wind which can be explained by the total freedom of creation that I enjoyed.” To which I say, I’m having what he’s having. 

What’s your favourite kit of the 2021 men’s WorldTour?





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