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London-based firm to provide full range of racewear, training kit and off-the-bike clothing - plus fans' collection too...

Sky Pro Cycling has announced that Rapha is to be Team Sky’s official clothing supplier for four years commencing January 2013.

The London-based firm will provide a full range of clothing and accessories for the team, including racewear, training kit, and clothing for riders while off the bike and for team staff.

Rapha will also be producing a selection of both cycle and casual clothing for supporters of the team, which has been supplied by German sportswear giant Adidas for the last three years.

“We are delighted that, after only eight years as a business, we have been chosen by Team Sky, the world’s number one team, as their partner,” commented Rapha’s founder and Chief Executive,  Simon Mottram. 

“We share their passion for performance and team ethic and are enthusiastic to inspire and engage a wider fan base around the globe.”

Sky’s Team Principal, Dave Brailsford, said: “Team Sky has achieved this year’s level of success because of a strong and steady vision to find improvement at every level to help our riders win. 

“I see Rapha joining us next year as another step in that direction. They share our ambition and vision for cycling.”

The Sky Pro Cycling collection will go on sale in January 2013 both through the Rapha website and through certain cycling retailers both in the UK and internationally.

Rapha of course is a brand that polarises attitudes not least because of the pricing of its ranges, and certainly some of the initial reaction we've seen from fans is summed up by a tweet from Gavin Murdock who asks whether anyone other than the pros will actually be able to afford the Team Sky kit?

While exclusivity has always been part of Rapha's brand strategy, supplying such a high profile team is something that takes them into the mainstream so it will be interesting to see how - and whether - they address that.

The existing Adidias kit certainly isn't the cheapest out there, although at around £65 the jerseys retail at a little under half the cost of a Rapha Condor Sharp jersey, available on the Rapha website for £140.

All Rapha will tell us for now is that "out of respect for the current sponsor" no further details will be revealed until January.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

53 comments

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andylul [410 posts] 3 years ago
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If you thought Adidas team kit was out of your price range...

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carbon337 [13 posts] 3 years ago
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It will get all chavvy now then, even more fat middle aged men will be wearing Rapha. Now is time to find a new brand.

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thereandbackagain [172 posts] 3 years ago
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Smart move.

Now all the haters can gather together and bitch about two cycling successes in one place, leaving the rest of the internet a more pleasant place for the rest of us.

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ratattat [52 posts] 3 years ago
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Would not be seen dead in a Sky or GB kit. Don't mind showing support with a t-shirt or a cap but fat men in Sky kit make me laugh

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wingsofspeed68 [63 posts] 3 years ago
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Didn't realise we had biggoted internet trolls on Road cc. Now there's a surprise! Thought our sport was so inclusive as well. Disgusted

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londonplayer [620 posts] 3 years ago
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I was in Decathlon the other day and saw they are doing some rather nice jerseys reduced to £4.99 each. Beat that Rapha!

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doc [167 posts] 3 years ago
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The Rapha strategy on pricing obviously works, plenty of sales and kit about. It is excellent quality and the pricing reflects this plus an exclusivity.
This strategy is not original, but a proven one.
When BMW first brough cars into the UK, pricing was moderate, comparable with the mid-range of the day, and so were sales. A hike in price to bring the brand to a less affordable price point brought a tag of exclusivity, and sales jumped. There are plenty of them out there today, and they are still just that little bit more expensive....plus it worked for VW with the Audi range as well.
So good luck to Rapha, they are a fresh company with a clear vision of where they want to be, and a record of success. Some people always like to knock success, a b it sad but good that it does not put off the ambitious.

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gazzaputt [216 posts] 3 years ago
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TBH the current Sky replica kit is shite quality and vastly overpriced.

I suppose with it being Rapha at least you get to buy what the team are wearing.

But Rapha must be shelling mega bucks for this and will want returns on their outlay.

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chris75018 [99 posts] 3 years ago
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that seems like a big coup for Rapha - like 'em or not, ousting an incumbent supplier the size of Adidas can't have been an easy task.

Strategically it looks like a pretty good match of brands - both british, aspirational etc, etc.

As doc mentions, their pricing strategy is working wonders for them - comparing them to Decathlon etc. is irrelevant as they're just not competing for the same market segment.

Good on 'em.

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 3 years ago
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hilarious move.

Pretentiousness will give an extra 5 second saving over 40km in a time trial. Marginal Gains.

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j4m1eb [22 posts] 3 years ago
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shouldn't we just be pleased that a British team is using a British kit supplier.
Yeah Rapha is expensive and I don't own any, but so is Assos and Castelli.

And surley anyone has a right to buy any replica kit they like regardless of weight.
Grow up people, cycling is supposed to be fun.

Bravo Sky and Rapha and Jaguar

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drheaton [3318 posts] 3 years ago
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Nice to see Sky using a british brand but I'd echo what other's have said, this will be costing Rapha a fortune so they'll need to recoup that somehow and unlike a massive company like Adidas they may not just be able to spread the cost across other areas of their business.

Also, can Rapha really compete with Adidas where the technology and R&D comes into it? I'd have thought that, in a team where marginal gains are everything, Sky'd potentially be losing out on this deal in every other way except money.

Maybe the money Rapha have put down outways any performance disadvantages. If so, expect the kit, and huge line of assorted Team Sky branded jackets, socks, t-shirts, shorts, caps etc etc to be extremely extensive and expensive.

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kitkat [374 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm really hoping they breakout the imagination and come up with something that isn't dull dull dull black, or wow, lets really jazz this up with a thin slash of colour

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zzgavin [193 posts] 3 years ago
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Rapha is expensive, but it also represents value for money. Best bought in the sale, I'll admit, but it is well made and does what it is meant to do. I'm 70kgs and 41, so fit part of the mamil model, but the clothes work and fit well. I don't get the negativity associated with Rapha, it's nice well made clothing, if it's not to your taste then buy something else, there are plenty of brands to choose from.
I think this is a great arrangement, Sky, Jaguar and Rapha all together makes for a great story. Whether I'll buy any Team Sky or TeamGB is questionable, but the advances they make for Sky will filter over to other items, e.g. a skin suit isn't in Rapha's range atm, not that I need one.
Well done Rapha, a few more British cycling companies making a business success out of the Olympic and Tour success won't hurt anyone.

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rowes [62 posts] 3 years ago
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Think there's a bit more to this than kit.
Rapha Condor Sharp and Sky to link up in some way? What with JTL moving and everything, maybe Sky could do with a development team??
Rather that than Virgin!!

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Pedals [36 posts] 3 years ago
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This is great news for the Brits, its just a shame that most folk wont be able to afford the jerseys. Its £130 just for a standard jersey with Rapha, even if they price them round the £100 mark thats still a lot for a team jersey when they bring out a new one each year.
Its great to see fans lining the roads in their fave teams kits, and the sky one you could spot on tv especially if they have the ltd edition rainforest one on.
I hope they do something for the everyday fan so that we continue to see lots of team sky jerseys at the sides of the roads supporting the team.

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gazzaputt [216 posts] 3 years ago
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kitkat wrote:

I'm really hoping they breakout the imagination and come up with something that isn't dull dull dull black, or wow, lets really jazz this up with a thin slash of colour

You need research as to why the current Sky kit is designed that way with the layout and colouring. Lot of R&D went into it.

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kitkat [374 posts] 3 years ago
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gazzaputt wrote:
kitkat wrote:

I'm really hoping they breakout the imagination and come up with something that isn't dull dull dull black, or wow, lets really jazz this up with a thin slash of colour

You need research as to why the current Sky kit is designed that way with the layout and colouring. Lot of R&D went into it.

I was thinking Rapha gear in general but also the Sky kit, i guess it's a perfect tie up in dull-ness

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standesmo [1 post] 3 years ago
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Maybe we'll get some decent national kit now too? The current Sky GB kit looks like some horrendous hangover from the 80's. So many other countries national kits are so much more stylish than ours.

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stewieatb [292 posts] 3 years ago
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kitkat wrote:
gazzaputt wrote:
kitkat wrote:

I'm really hoping they breakout the imagination and come up with something that isn't dull dull dull black, or wow, lets really jazz this up with a thin slash of colour

You need research as to why the current Sky kit is designed that way with the layout and colouring. Lot of R&D went into it.

I was thinking Rapha gear in general but also the Sky kit, i guess it's a perfect tie up in dull-ness

So you'd prefer the garish technicolor mess that is 80% of the kit design on the Pro Tour?

I did like Sky's green (Rainforest Rescue) kit though - I'd be highly approving of a move to that kit full time. Much more distinctive when you're watching the action too.

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notfastenough [3695 posts] 3 years ago
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Typical, had to expect negative comments on this.

It's a British team in British clothing. No-one goes on about Castelli or Assos being expensive.

As for the company itself, I don't see Adidas as a big cycle clothing supplier. Apart from the replica team kit, what other ranges are there? (Or, at least, which you see out and about?) I think Adidas have been in this more for the brand awareness and association with a successful high profile venture.

Yes the replica team kit will be expensive, but as we all know, pro kit isn't really a big seller to non-pros anyway, because unlike fans of other sports most of us don't tend to wear jerseys we haven't earned. The rider-designed Sky t-shirts on Wiggle have already hinted at the penny dropping - I would be more likely to buy a casual t-shirt that showed support for a team, than a replica jersey, and Rapha's press release text mentions off-bike fan-wear.

I think this is good news. With post-Wiggo press-exposure, a British clothing brand is about to go mainstream.

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Simon_MacMichael [2456 posts] 3 years ago
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In April, when I was leaving the Team Sky hotel in West London after their pre-Giro press conference, a van was pulling up that had an Assos logo on the side.

Did wonder at the time whether that meant a change of supplier was in the offing but I'd never have guessed Rapha.

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crazy-legs [782 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

This is great news for the Brits, its just a shame that most folk wont be able to afford the jerseys. Its £130 just for a standard jersey with Rapha, even if they price them round the £100 mark thats still a lot for a team jersey when they bring out a new one each year.

I take it you haven't seen the price of the Adidas replica kit?! That's not exactly "cheap"...

Whether or not you like Rapha, they're a fantastic brand in that they've always supported and put back into the sport - the Rapha-Condor-Sharp team, sponsoring events, having their coffee van at races. Hats off to them for a brilliant marketing job really well done (in that almost every other new/start-up clothing company basically tries to copy them).

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andyb56 [11 posts] 3 years ago
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Great for everybody involved! My only concern would be that if Rapha grows in popularity are they going to improve their stocking levels? A few times they've run out of things when I ve come round to wanting to place an order this year!

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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It will be interesting to see how Rapha copes with the demand as their stock levels at the start of a season are often very poor.

Also while I'm supportive of British business I don't think Rapha manufacture anything on these shores which wouldn't be so hard to stomach if they weren't charging such as high price and trading heavily on the British image. Before anyone says you can't produce stuff like this in the UK (as Rapha say) I'd point to Shutt whose shorts I own include a made in GB sticker and also for high end merino, John Smedley produce in the UK for a similar price tag and design standard (not bike stuff admittedly but I think the comparison stands).

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bikeandy61 [537 posts] 3 years ago
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I must admit that when Sky launched I was hoping that Rapha would be kit supplier (at the time I was a massive Rapha fan, bit more grounded these days). But since Sky has been in existence and you see the technical kit that Adidas have supplied I did come to realise that Rapha would not have been able to supply the same level of technical expertise.

I'm not talking about nice Sportwool replica kit for us mortals. I'm talking the highly technical garments that Sky sport. TdF skin suits for example. No offense to Rapha Condor but they aren't in the same league.

Obviously Dave B knows what he is doing. I am just surprised that Rapha are seen as being able to meet the technical challenges of Sky.

Unless of course the technology and manufacturing know how comes from Sky/Team GB and Rapha is "just" the brand?

Good luck to them, even though I have reservations about Rapha's elitism they are successful.

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steff [81 posts] 3 years ago
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I look forward to seeing Wiggo and Froomedog grimacing in moody black and white while being Epic™.

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Bigringrider [212 posts] 3 years ago
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A couple of points...

This might come as a shock to some but...Adidas isn’t made in Germany. So please don’t bring out the very tired ‘Rapha’s made in China’ cr4p. And while Rapha aren’t designing super high tech skinsuits (yet) the Pro Team jersey and bibs are very much in the league of the kit that Sky currently wear from Adidas. I’ve got a friend who has actual team issue, not off the back of a lorry second rate repro Sky kit and the Rapha Pro Team stuff is much nicer.

I’m a big Rapha fan and a big Sky fan so the two getting together is fine by me.

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Simon_MacMichael [2456 posts] 3 years ago
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bikeandy61 wrote:

I'm not talking about nice Sportwool replica kit for us mortals. I'm talking the highly technical garments that Sky sport. TdF skin suits for example. No offense to Rapha Condor but they aren't in the same league.

Despite the presence of the three adidas stripes (plus the Le Coq Sportif logo as supplier of the maillot jaune), the skinsuit Wiggins wore in the Tour is widely believed to have been made by Italian company Moa.

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John_the_Monkey [437 posts] 3 years ago
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Eh,I thought £16 for the Adidas made Sky race cap was a bit much, so I doubt I'm the target market.

Are Rapha still sponsoring the Condor-Sharp team in 2013, or does this deal impact that?

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