Kit changes for Grand Tours have become en vogue in recent years, and there are three special-edition jerseys on display in the peloton at this year’s Vuelta a España.
The most striking is that of Movistar, who go white for the first time in their long history in a design that is one big tribute to Alejandro Valverde.
The 42-year-old Spaniard joined the team in 2005 and, more than 100 victories later, is riding his final Vuelta in his final season as a professional.
The new jersey pays homage to that career, with his biggest achievements written onto the front and back. The navy blue base has been swapped for white, and the intersecting sky blue lines now come with the names of those races he has won.
Given top billing is the world road race title Valverde won in Innsbruck in 2018, after years of near misses and silver and bronze medals. It’s so important it appears twice, on the left chase and at the top of the rear of the jersey – just underneath an imprint of Valverde’s signature.
“Nobody deserves this more than him,” said the team, describing Valverde as the most versatile and one of the most charismatic riders our country has known.”
The achievements listed on the jersey came either side of a two-year doping ban in 2010 and 2011.
What’s listed on the jersey
- 1 Vuelta a España
- UCI Road World Champion 2018
- 2 Clásica Ciclista San Sebastián
- 4 Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- 9 final podiums in a Grand Tour
- 32 participations in a Grand Tour
- 17 stages in Grand Tours
- 5 La Flèche Wallonne
- 7 UCI Road World Championships podium
- 11 podiums in Monument Classics
- 36 Monument participations
- 4 times winner UCI individual ranking
Astana Qazaqstan team have also gone white – or at least a slightly silvered version of it.
The Kazakh team have made less noise than Movistar, with no real announcement for the new design and no explanation for it.
The kit sees them ditch the light blue of old, while keeping the diamond pattern of their standard 2021 jersey. The jersey is white at the chest and shoulders before fading down through those diamonds, from bluey grey to a darker shade to meet the shorts.
Like Astana, Arkéa-Samsic’s new colours have arrived with little fanfare and little explanation, although it would seem to have been necessitated by a colour clash with the race’s red leader’s jersey.
While Movistar’s and Astana’s might clash with the new white jersey for best young rider, the Grand Tours protect the branding of their leader’s jerseys and various teams have been forced into design changes, such as Jumbo-Visma at the Tour de France and EF Education-EasyPost at the Giro d’Italia.
This is Arkéa-Samsic’s first appearance at the Vuelta, and their standard red jersey is a straight clash, so they’ve gone for a fluoro yellow option.
The jersey was modelled by Nairo Quintana at the official pre-race photoshoot but just hours later he was out of the race as news broke of his positive tests for tramadol at the Tour de France. The French team could not replace him and only have seven riders wearing this jersey at the Vuelta.