How did EF Pro Cycling win the opening weekend of the Giro before a single pedal got pushed? They got a little help from their friends.
On Thursday night, Lachlan Morton, Simon Clarke and the rest of the EF Pro Cycling roster climbed onto the stage at the Giro d’Italia team presentation and a metaphorical bomb went off in the Twittersphere.
This special Giro-only kit is a collaborative creation between Rapha, the team’s kit supplier, and Palace, a wildly popular skateboard and streetwear brand known for their early-2000s, video game-inspired aesthetic. Each World Tour team is allowed one change of kit per season, with most people choosing to drop theirs at the Tour de France. EF went a different way, allowing for the fact that their regular pink kit would create a problematic clash with the race leader’s tricot.
Photos of the kit and op-eds about it have, by now, hit the tops of every major cycling website – and the images that first emerged at the team presentations on Thursday have been constantly popping up in our feeds ever since.
Tanel Kangert of Estonia and Team EF Pro Cycling / EF Pro Cycling special Rapha x Palace Skateboards / during the 103rd Giro d'Italia 2020, Team Presentation in Archaeological Park of Segesta in Palermo City / Temple of Segesta / @girodiitalia / #Giro / o
Image credit: Getty Images
The kit is an eyesore, in the most magnificent way possible, as Eurosport’s commentator and Italian pronunciation tsar, Rob Hatch, points out.
“EF Pro Cycling have quacked the competition and pulled off one of the bits of marketing of the century. No big-name GC contender, no sprint favourite, but they’re the most talked-about team in the build-up to the race. Whether you’re a fan of the kit or not, well played EF, Rapha & Palace!”
Eurosport’s cycling kit reviewer of record, Felix Lowe, is of slightly more ‘conservative’ tastes when it comes to the aesthetics.
“Perhaps the aim is to make their opponents go cross-eyed in a trance? I'm certainly convinced that if you stare long enough at those dots then a secret message or logo will emerge like one of those magic eye posters. And when it does, it will probably say something like ‘haha' – but in an obscure South American dialect that we'd need to do an EF course in order to understand.”
Optical illusion or not, EF’s commitment to ‘the bit’ has been second to none. They have custom Cannondale bikes with matching livery, their team cars should now come with a warning about epilepsy, and the TT helmets. Well, you’re not gonna believe the TT helmets.
Lowe finished his analysis by saying.
“Of course, being a white almost-40-year-old male and about as cool as Tanel Kangert on holiday in Dubai, I have no idea who or what Palace are, besides one of London's lesser football clubs. All this is irrelevant, though. If EF and Rapha wanted disruption, that's what they got. What matters is that the entire cycling world spent hours talking about EF Pro Cycling, and not about any other team ahead of the Giro. Now that's flaming good marketing – even if your riders have duck eggs all over their faces.”
And this really is the crucial point, while the entire cycling world spent the first half of ‘Giro week’ talking about the odious Quinn Simmons for all the wrong reasons, the weekend of the race itself has been dominated by EF Pro Cycling for all the right ones.
You only have to look at some of the week’s best tweets to see the proof of that.