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Paul Smith to design Rapha’s Team Sky kit?

That’s the rumour, and here’s our artist's impressions of what it might look like… maybe

Rapha are providing the kit for Team Sky next year – as we first told you waaaay back in August – and a little birdy has told us that none other than Sir Paul Smith is doing the designs.

When we say ‘a little birdy’ we actually mean Raleigh. And when we say ‘Raleigh’ we actually mean him off of the forum.

And how would Raleigh know? Well, there’s the interesting thing: Paul Smith told him so. Oh yes! Paul Smith himself.

Right, let’s start at the beginning. Raleigh is still at school… and it sounds like a right posh ’un to us because it’s the sort of place that has Paul Smith in to do a talk (we just had the nit nurse and some bloke telling us about the dangers of glue sniffing).

Anyway, while Paul Smith was enjoying a spot of lunch our man Raleigh, with a Paxman-like interrogation technique, got the truth out of him.

“I knew that he'd previously designed for Rapha, so I asked whether he'd done any kit for Sky next year, and he categorically said a big yes, “says Raleigh. “He seemed really excited about it, and his eyes genuinely lit up.”

Told you. Straight for the jugular. Textbook stuff from Raleigh. See, he’s a switched on kind of guy. On the ball. Clued up. Paul Smith has indeed worked with Rapha quite a bit – it's an obvious fit seeing as a lot of Rapha clothing is essentially Paul Smith PE kit. Plus, Paul Smith has been involved with the Rapha Condor Sharp cycling team. Plus, if there’s one thing everyone knows about Paul Smith – the man rather than the brand – it’s that he had dreams of being a pro cyclist when he was growing up. Plus... actually, that might be all the pluses. Be that as it may, everything slots into place.

So, Raleigh got a full and frank admission. He’ll go far, that boy.

What does the Team Sky kit look like? Well, we don't know that, to be honest. Rapha are keeping schtum. Their sponsorship contract starts on 1 January and, even though the road season is long finished, Team Sky are still sponsored by Adidas until then. Rapha have confirmed that they’re taking over… and that’s all. They're not saying any more, still less showing any kit, until January. Fair enough, but where’s the fun in that?

Here at we weren't going to let a little thing like the absence of pictures stand in our way. If Rapha wouldn't show us the designs, they left us with very little choice... we had to make up our own. Here’s what we reckon the jerseys will look like, based on stuff that’s floating around in our heads…

That design at the top of the page, that’s yer classic Paul Smith signature stripes. Shirts, scarves, socks, wallets… there’s a stripy version of pretty much everything Paul Smith makes. Maybe that’ll be extended over to the Team Sky jerseys.

The only thing is, it’s very Paul Smith and not very Rapha, so we really can’t see this one happening. Cool design though. We’d buy one. But Team Sky won’t be wearing this next year.

This one is purple, it has dots on, there’s a pink keyline along the edges of the chest band: it’s ticking all sorts of Rapha boxes. There’s even a story about an epic ride sewn inside one of the rear pockets (not shown). It’ll probably be made from Sportwool, the wool having come from sheep that graze on Alpe d’Huez or from Bernard Hainault’s private flock.

There’s a major problem, though. What if someone like Chris Froome takes the King of the Mountains white/red polka dot jersey in next year’s Tour de France? That’s going to wreak havoc on the visuals. Team Sky will look like a train wreck, and for that reason we’re out. Next!

Now we’re talking. It’s simple. It’s classic with a twist. It’s very Paul Smith and very Rapha. You have a band on the left arm, you have Team Sky blue in a keyline along the edges of the chest band, it follows all the Rapha brand guidelines, and it’s the type of jersey that’ll sell masses of replicas.

This is definitely the jersey that Team Sky will be wearing next year. Don’t forget that you saw it first on And if it's not, blame Raleigh.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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