By Bryan Redemske
Cycling kits are typically not connected with adjectives like “classy” or “subtle.” Like other sports that depend heavily on sponsor subsidies, the goal in kit design is getting that sponsor name out there. You know, like this.
In that aspect, the Rock Racing team is not unique. Formed in 2007 by fashion designer Michael Ball of Rock & Republic, the boys in green fancy themselves as the rebels of the cycling world. Or, more specifically, they’ve created buzz by hiring ex–dopers who have served their suspensions and need a ride.
One of the longstanding traditions in cycling is creating a special kit for special events. Most grand tour leaders have been going all yellow, pink, or gold. The U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel teams wore special kits for Lance Armstrong’s last three tour wins in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
All of those situations imply a team needs a reason to wear a different kit. Not so for Rock Racing, which makes sure everything is extreme!!! Always. They don’t use a practical Saab for their team car. No, no, no. Escalade. As you saw above, this is the standard RR kit. That color is called “venom,” by the way, and it’s only the beginning. These guys change kits more often than the White Sox have changed team identities.
At the recent eight-stage Tour of Britain, the team wore three different kits — green, black, and blue (it’s called “London Rocks,” if you’re interested). And that’s not counting Tyler Hamilton’s new U.S. champion jersey, which also comes in white. At the same time, the rest of the team was at the Tour of Missouri. And yeah, they had a new kit, too.
The team wore two kits at the Tour of California earlier this year. Stage one was ridden with barbed wire (named “Crucifixion”), allegedly in protest of the commissaires’ decision to bar three Rock Racing riders (all ex-dopers) from starting. After that, it was back to venom.
At the Tour of Georgia a few weeks later, it was all venom until the last stage, when everything turned peachy.
Rock Racing also pulls out wardrobe switches for one day races: Harlem, Austin, Manhattan Beach, and the U.S. national championships, which shouldn’t be confused with Hamilton’s U.S. champion jersey. The official names for the Harlem, Austin, and Manhattan Beach jerseys are “Harlem Rocks,” “Austin Rocks,” and … yeah, you get the picture. The “Rocks” jerseys were worn in races sponsored by Rock Racing.
The Tour of Utah saw a new take on venom — road rash. The Tour of Qinghai Lake garb is here, and there are still four more kits yet to be seen. They’re all called “O.G.” Venom, road rash, black, and white.
That makes 17 different jerseys, not counting Hamilton’s championship jerseys. Kind of makes baseball teams with five jerseys seem perfectly reasonable, huh?
Note: I contacted a Rock Racing official with a few questions about the kits. Despite the best efforts of the team PR officer, an interview never took place. If that interview does happen, I’ll try to shed some light on the more interesting kits in the closet.
Uni Watch news ticker: The Nats look like a Walgreens kind of team when the W is isolated. … Utah State has its own NOB, and it’s not small. Thanks to Karl on the tip. … Here’s another Gene Upshaw sleeve, this time on Brian Dawkins of the Eagles. Bryan Duklewski with the quick camera phone work. … Matthew Lepke was at the Iowa-Indiana game on Saturday and sends this dispatch: “I attended the Iowa-Indiana football game this weekend and had a good laugh at some funny logo creeping my alma mater Iowa’s Tigerhawk has done. Just when you think the university has branded all it can, you’re surprised to learn that even a sherriff’s sidearm can show support for the Hawks. The man pictured has been the Iowa head football coach’s traveling police escort for many years, dating back to the Hayden Fy era. I’ve always found this interesting, since he is a Polk County (Des Moines) deputy and Iowa City is in Johnson County, but alas. I don’t even know what to say about the backup kicker’s shoes, seen behind the sherriff.” I don’t know either, but thanks for the report. … K.C. Kleiss says, “We may have beaten Michigan, but we still look like crap.” The “we” is Toledo, and K.C. is correct. … The Houston Aeros minor league hockey team has a 15th anniversary logo, seen here. Kinda cool, but could get busy if it’s too small or in the wrong spot. Thanks for the tip, T.J. … Jaymes Progar has a question, rugby fans: “I was watching a 6 Nations match between Ireland and Scotland from a while ago (it was an archived game on Setanta Broadband). I noticed that Ireland had something written just below the neckline in the middle of the jersey. It was low quality but on further inspection it appeared to be “Scotland 23-02-08″. Do you know, or do you know anyone that might know more about this? Maybe it was for an auction? Or is this something that is common in test rugby?” No idea. Somebody help the guy, huh? … Jason Hijuelos remembers reading an interview with New Orleans Hornets exec Chad Shinn, and there was a mention of an ABA New Orleans Buccanneers throwback. Could this be it? … Here’s another from K.C. — a fix for the WNBA? … Very cool eBay find here. Good catch by Prentice James. … I don’t know if I’ve seen this question before. Bill Krauss notices most NFL cheerleading squads wear the same white go-go boots. And he’s wondering if they all come from the same place. Someone should do some research or something. … It’s uni-related. I think. Thanks, Craig Justice. Thanks. … This looks cool, with thanks to Todd Bingman. … As mentioned in the comments … sometime in the past few days (or maybe I was imagining it, I don’t know), the Browns are headed back to 1957 for tonight’s game. It’s the last item here, and thank you, Laz Buda. … It’s cancer awareness month right now, if you didn’t know. (Personally, I’d prefer 12 months of cancer fighting instead of cancer awareness for one, but anyway …) As such, there are a lot of pink-tinged events going on. This is a shot of a high school game in Phoenix. The gloves were donated by Cutters, which also made a donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation. Thanks to Daniel Prokosch for the link.