Staying in the Shadows

Introducing Rapha’s latest innovation in bad-weather racewear.

For yellow jersey contenders like Team Sky’s Chris Froome, staying near the front of the peloton is all that matters during the Tour’s nervous first week. Well-positioned and hopefully far from the inevitable crashes. The problem for Froome is that everybody else wants to be there too, and so the bunch are constantly jostling for position, with shoulder charges and deliberate blocking tactics par for the course.

The first week of this year’s Tour goes through the unpredictable weather of Belgium and Normandy. In all likelihood, the domestiques will have to spend their days riding back and forth from team cars, collecting or depositing their leader’s bulky wet-weather jackets, before fighting their way back to the front once more.

This year, however, Rapha has provided Team Sky’s cyclists with an item of clothing that eliminates the need for those trips back to the car. The Rapha Pro Team Shadow Jersey uses a pioneering fabric that protects the riders from foul weather and yet which is comfortable enough to be worn like a jersey. It protects from the wind, the rain and the cold and is an innovative response to the demands of WorldTour cyclists racing at the highest level of the sport.

In changeable conditions, the team’s riders can now wear just one garment all day, remaining shielded from the elements throughout. It is a whole new approach to bad-weather clothing in the sport and the jersey has been raced in by Team Sky since the start of the season to great effect.

With conventional rain jackets, even the most acclaimed options are made of a fabric with a laminate. The construction invariably includes a waterproof membrane and is taped at the seams. No rain comes in but no perspiration can escape either, so the rider gets hot and sweaty very quickly. The Rapha Pro Team Shadow Jersey in contrast, is far more breathable than all other wet-weather options, yet maintains impressive ‘hydrophobic’ qualities to keep the rain off too. It is both very comfortable and highly protective.

The key is in the fabric: extremely stretchy and densely woven, with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish applied to both the yarn and the finished fabric. Rainwater rolls off, yet the woven fabric and lack of a laminate lets body heat out. Add to this a brushed inner face and the jersey can be worn comfortably over a base layer, or even directly against the skin.

It is an original and innovative solution to an age-old problem, meaning that Team Sky’s riders will have one less thing to worry about during the Tour’s first week. They can, quite literally, stay in the shadows until the mountains.

The Rapha Pro Team Shadow range will be released later this year.