Chris Froome sure has got balls. Probably. It took chutzpah for him, on New Year’s Eve, to post a Twitter pic of himself wearing the new Team Sky skin-suit. “Trying out my new 2014 @TeamSky@rapharacing kit. The skin suit takes #marginalgains to the next level,” he tweeted, no doubt with shovel-fulls of self-aware irony.
“When Dave Brailsford promised transparency…” joked @inrng on Twitter, with the ellipsis meaning he didn’t reckon the Team Sky boss had in mind sheer, see-through bicycle lingerie.
No doubt you could sell this kit in your shop (there’s a demographic for everything) but it’s not being made commercially available, it’s team-only. This is bad for your tills, a Good Thing for cycling. It’s shonky enough for cyclists to break Velorminati.com’s rules 16 and 17 - “Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race” and “Wearing Pro team kit is also questionable if you're not paid to wear it” – a sentiment probably not well liked by bike shops eager to sell replica kit, but to see tubby 50 year olds in kit that even Knog wouldn’t be able to advertise successfully would have been a Lycra Pout step too far. When a stick-thin whippet can’t, er, pull it off, you know this is fetish garb – sans clemintine in the gob – that even some Tory MPs might baulk at. If MAMILs started wearing this kit, can you imagine the frothing at the mouth from the tabloids?
As it was, the Daily Mail was relatively kind, with, amazingly, no double-entendres whatsoever when it reported Froome’s tweet. The mild headline on the Mail’s website read: “Team Sky cyclists reveal their new racy little number that leaves little to the imagination.” (Cyclists? Plural? Have any other Team Sky riders been spotted in the kit? Oh, and I guess the press launch for the Sky women’s team will be over-subscribed).
Byron over on Bikehugger.com was less kind: “It's the 50+ white, male, disposable-income market they're after, but find themselves on an eating disorder tumblr for teen girls. How bike racing can take itself seriously in 2014, when a slutty, sexy skinsuit is what they're selling, I don't know…Marginal gains in marketshare and relevance to bike shops.”
Scraper sites were also having a field day, with dlisted.com – and other copy-catters – calling Froome the “Hot Slut Of The Day!”, with new-to-cycle-clothing commenters beneath making references to nipples that, sadly, had nothing whatsoever to do with spoke tightening.
Getting back to the mainstream, Belgian TV sports website Sporza.com wrote: “Froome wil Tour van 2014 winnen in pantypak”, which sounds gloriously pervy. Boringly, Eurosport.fr went with “ils ont tous réveillonné sur Tweeter,” which is even more boring than the Daily Mail’s limp offering. (See, limp offering…I should get a job with the tabloids).
Really, I despair of the press. They could have had an awful lot more fun with this subject. BikeRadar.com was another weak ‘un: “We'll be seeing a lot more of Tour de France champion Chris Froome this year – quite literally…”
That it? Really? Come on! Ahem.
At least the angle taken by journalist Shane Stokes was cerebral and not at all zoophiliac (Don’t Google that from a work machine). He wrote: “Garmin Sharp kit: protecting necessary bears. Sky TT kit: protecting bare necessities.” Mind you, to get the pun you had to know that Garmin Sharp kit now features the World Wildlife Fund’s panda.
Way out in front with the best headline was Road.cc, with: “Chris Froome extends with Sky.” [No, hang on, that was for a pre-Christmas story about contract renewal].
Chris ‘Burlesque’ Froome was poking fun at himself but, shorn of the context, you’ll be seeing a lot of that pic from now on. It’ll be one of the results when you type ‘bike porn’ (you’re allowed to type that into a work machine) into a well-known search engine. It will join the assorted photos of a starkers Victoria Pendleton, hunched over her bike (not her most flattering pic, actually); the photos of gleaming, expensive bicycle parts (“Phwoarrrr! Get ‘em on for the lads!”); and, I am shuddering on your behalf here, photos of wobbly bits from ten whole years of World Naked Bike Rides. (Really, the flesh-is-vulnerabile rides kicked off in 2004).
So, yeh, thanks, Chris, but next time, stuff some team-issue socks down there.