Look carefully at the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader Chris Froome and you will see the logo of Le Coq Sportif, and not that of Team Sky sponsor, Rapha.
The French clothing brand has a long association with cycling, producing its first jersey in 1929, and manufacturing the Tour’s leaders jerseys from 1951 to 1988, with the iconic rooster logo worn by the likes of Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon and Stephen Roche.
And, after a 14-year lay-off, Le Coq returned as manufacturer of the Tour’s classification jerseys (yellow, polka dot, green and white) in 2012.
To tie-in with its return to the sport, Le Coq Sportif has launched its first cycling performance range (available through the Le Coq Sportif website). With the Tour de France about to reach its crescendo, we’ve called in a selection of summer clothing – the Arac jersey, Volp bib-short and Cailly base layer – to test. Here’s an overview before we hit the road.
Le Coq Sportif Arac short sleeve jersey – £85
Le Coq Sportif say the Arac uses the same technology as the jerseys worn by the classification leaders at the Tour de France. That means the jersey, which is made from a 92 per cent polyester and eight per cent elastane mix, has a multi-panel construction which uses a 3D mesh on the back intended to improve breathability and move moisture (there’s also a three-quarter zip at the front to aid ventilation), and a lightly-perforated polyester on the torso and sleeves.
Speaking of which, the sleeves are laser cut and are lined with silicone to hold them in place. The jersey is cut close to make for a slim and aerodynamic fit. Out back there are three conventional rear pockets.
The jersey’s styling is inspired by that of the 1951 yellow jersey, with a collar lined in Le Coq Sportif’s signature print. Zip the jersey up and the collar itself has an old-school flavour. The contrast stripe on the chest is also a nod to the jerseys of old. Five colours are available, including one covered in red and white triangles in reference to the Tour’s polka dot King of the Mountains jersey.
Le Coq Sportif Volp bib short – £85
The Volp bib short is made up of two parts. The main section, from the legs up to approximately the midriff, is made from a conventional lycra fabric, designed to be breathable in its own right and to offer muscle support. More ventilation, however, comes by way of the mesh polyamide bib straps, which are wide and have plenty of stretch.
The shorts use a plush, multi-density chamois, which comes with claims of anti-shock and high wicking properties. Otherwise, the elastic band at the end both leg is lined with Le Coq Sportif-branded silicone gripper.
Flatlock seams feature throughout, to help avoid irritation next to the skin, while subtle detailing on the otherwise all-black shorts is limited to a reflective Le Coq Sportif logo and French tricolore on the left leg.
Le Coq Sportif Cailly base layer – £45
The Le Coq Sportif Cailly base layer, or tank, to give it its official description, is a sleeveless base layer (tank, vest, call it what you want). It’s a very light piece, designed to wick sweat away from the skin in warm weather.
The base layer is made from a 82 per cent polyester and 18 per cent elastane mix so, like the jersey and bib shorts, it has a close fit but with plenty of stretch. The fabric itself is a micro-aerated mesh in order to offer maximum breathability.
The base layer matches our Arac jersey in that it’s black with a contrasting white stripe (there’s also a Le Coq Sportif logo on the right breast and the left shoulder, as well as a tricolore on the back of the neck). The base layer may sit underneath the jersey, but the matching design is a nice touch and ensures uniformity if riding with the jersey’s three-quarter zip undone.
It may not make us ride as fast as Froome, but with the Tour at the forefront of our minds, and warm summer weather in which to head out on the bike, it’s time to put Le Coq Sportif’s new range to the test. We’ll report back with our findings.
Website: Le Coq Sportif