The 2018 season kicked off at the 20th edition of the Tour Down Under last week. Mitchelton-Scott’s Daryl Impey won a closely contested race, finishing on the same time as last year’s winner Richie Porte but taking the ochre jersey on countback.
The race is the first chance teams have to show off new kit designs and test new sponsors’ products in race conditions, and for new signings to get acquainted with their new team bikes and kit.
UAE Team Emirates riders have a choice of C60, Concept or V2-R models to race onJosh Evans/Immediate Media
Although new products are generally aligned with calendar years, the biggest cycling brands launch these in the previous year’s summer at the biggest race of the year, the Tour de France. So while we are now seeing 2018 models in 2018 livery, many of the products were first seen during the build-up to, or at, the 2017 Tour de France.
Along with the 2018 frames, new sponsorship deals and partnerships see teams switching finishing kit providers and can in turn also provoke colour or design changes.
More teams are moving away from plain black bikes, and Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step Floors have both added splashes of colour to their otherwise black bikes.
Movistar Team’s complete team colours overhaul sees the Spanish squad switch from the navy blue and green that has become emblematic of the squad in recent years, to a lighter and brighter blue with an attractive fade to navy blue on the jersey, bikes and even the team issue Fizik shoes.
Daniel Oss keeps cool with an ice pack under his jersey ahead of sign onJosh Evans/Immediate Media
In the cycling heartland of Europe, January is in the depths of winter, but in the Southern Hemisphere Australia is enjoying the peak of its summer. On two stages during the Tour Down Under, temperatures rose into the mid-forties Celsius and riders used ice in stockings, ice packs, slathered on sun screen and consumed vast amounts of water in an attempt to beat dehydration or heat stroke.
A few riders succumbed to the heat, with Nathan Haas being the biggest name victim, losing significant time and his GC hopes on Norton Summit during stage 4 of the race.
Many riders, including Peter Sagan, will wear casual glasses from their eyewear sponsors for sign onJosh Evans/Immediate Media
The race is also an opportunity to take a closer look at the rider’s shoes, helmets and accessories from the season opener. In the dry summer, white shoes are a common trend and the pro riders regularly get wet wipes out for a final clean of the shoes as a pre-race ritual.
Eyewear sponsors offer riders some of their casual or lifestyle designs to accompany the cycling specific sunglasses and plenty of riders utilised these for the short period during sign-on for each stage.
Several riders would take a few moments ahead of the stage to clean up their shoes each dayJosh Evans/Immediate Media