They are known for their colourful pink kit but EF Education-Easypost have put a new spin on their jerseys for this year’s Tour de France, with their eight riders set to wear tops emblazoned with a female gender symbol to raise awareness ahead of the return of the women’s Tour de France later this summer.
Jonathan Vaughters, the EF manager, told Telegraph Sport he was sure the design would “create a real buzz”, rejecting suggestions of tokenism and saying the team were “literally putting their money where their mouth is”, with that space on the jersey worth up to £5 million.
EF Education-Easypost have a history of making bold fashion statements. The American team famously made waves with their 2020 Giro d’Italia design, a collaboration between Rapha and British skateboarding brand Palace, which featured a psychedelic mismatch of prints and was accompanied by a time-trial helmet painted as the Palace duck mascot.
Palace and Rapha are again behind this latest design, with both EF Education’s men’s and women’s WorldTour teams set to ride in pink jerseys featuring a big ‘Venus’ symbol across the front.
“I think it’s a super unique way to deliver a really strong message,” Vaughters said. “I mean, a lot of people in cycling talk about supporting women’s cycling… but this is something else. This is us basically saying ‘This year we are putting the attention on the women’s Tour de France’. It’s literally putting your money where your mouth is.
“Of course there’s a financial aspect. A logo that size on a men’s professional cycling team jersey right now – if you aren’t doing the image rights along with the logo, you’re still looking at £5 million. We never tried to sell that space as we’d already decided to go down this route. But in any case it wasn’t about the money.
“The rebirth of the women’s Tour de France is a special event and it needs to be pushed. You could say it’s a bit of an over-correction doing this at the biggest event in the sport, but to be honest there needs to be a bit of an over-correction.”
Linda Jackson, founder and owner of the EF Education-Tibco-SVB women’s team, said the gesture was appreciated and would hopefully prompt other teams to think about what they could do.
“The fact the men are wearing it at the Tour de France, that is going to set the world abuzz,” she said. “It’s just amazing. It’s just such a powerful statement ahead of a really important summer for women’s cycling. It’s been over 30 years since ASO put on a women’s Tour de France. To get to this point is monumental in our search for equality for women.
“I don’t know what the other teams will do [in response] but to be honest these guys, Palace and Rapha, have just hit the nail on the head. They’re first movers.”
Jackson added that she could not understand why British squad Ineos Grenadiers did not run a women’s team as well as a men’s one.
“The budgets of the women’s team are what, a 20th of what Ineos’s budget is? They could carve off a couple of million and create a women’s team no problem. But maybe I should be thanking them because it means I get British riders like Lizzy [Banks], Abi [Smith] and Zoe [Backstedt], who we have signed this year as a stagiaire.”
Vaughters admitted he was not sure how his riders would react when they were initially told about the kit concept but said they were “all really into it” now.
“We’re really staking the entire image of the team on promoting the women’s Tour de France,” he concluded. “We are going to put a massive Venus symbol on the chests of all of our riders at this Tour de France. You can’t push harder than that.
“Hopefully we’re able to get some of the audience that watches the men’s Tour de France to watch the women’s race.”