It’s the time of year when pro cyclists pose self-consciously in new team kit, appeasing the sponsors and giving the punters a chance to familiarize themselves with the garb in which their heroes will do battle in the coming season.
It’s a period that causes a slight mental jar, and not always because of the garishness of the apparel (Lampre’s blue and fuschia has been mixed, in a move of staggeringly bad taste, with the green of Merida), but more typically by the sight of riders in unfamiliar kit.
Daniel Oss stands proudly on his balcony, clearly having avoided any Christmas calories. But what is he doing in the red and black of BMC Racing? Ah! The memory jolt occurs. The Italian has flown the Cannondale coop and landed at the Swiss-American home of Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert.
Another Cannondale exile looks equally misplaced, for the moment at least, in the blue and yellow of Astana. Vincenzo Nibali will lead the Kazakh team in 2013, bringing a dark eyed Mediterranean mystery to the eastern European outfit. With Vino moved upstairs to management (a role begun with an unlikely bid to join the optimistically-named, Movement for Credible Cycling) Nibali will become the team’s main man in 2013.
Similarly, Juan Antonio Flecha’s trademark grin lacks none of its familiarity, but hasn’t the Spaniard’s head been photoshop-ed to the body of a rider from Vacansoleil-DCM? Isn’t Flecha a Team Sky stalwart, as synonymous with the blue and black of Britain’s WorldTour team as marginal gains? Not any more. Flecha has decamped to the Dutch outfit, there to continue his dogged pursuit of glory at Roubaix.
The list goes on: Mark Cavendish in the turquoise and white of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, and the entirety of the team formerly known as Rabobank, now Blanco Pro Cycling, clad in blue, white and black; perhaps appropriately, a more sober colour scheme than the signature orange and blue of their former backer.
How long will it take to adjust to the sight of riders on new teams, and in new kits? The third day of the Tour Down Under usually marks the period of adjustment for this correspondent. “The old order changeth,” as Tennyson observed, and while we hope for more sweeping changes to professional cycling in 2013 than rider transfers and new kit, this will be enough to contend with so early in the year.