Adidas has this morning unveiled the Stella McCartney kit that Britain’s athletes will wear at the London 2012 Olympics, now just over four months away. While the prospect of the first home Olympics since 1948 plus the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations means that the country is likely to become swathed in a sea of red, white and blue over the summer, the likes of Sir Chris Hoy won’t.
If the London 2012 logo provoked controversy when it was launched in 2007 – a selection of comments can be found on the BBC Sport Editors’ blog – we suspect that’s nothing compared to what the public reaction will be when the 2012 kit hits the newspapers.
Cycling and other sports are ones in which there is a balance between progress, on the one hand, and tradition and heritage on the other, with many people feeling that some things just shouldn’t be altered, and that includes the basic colours of national kit.
Those don't necessarily reflect national flag colours - the Netherlands' orange is derived from the colours of the royal house of that name, while Italy’s azzurri wear the blue that was the colour of the House of Savoy under which the country was united; however, Britain’s finest have always tended to chase gold in the red, white and blue of the Union Flag.
Except this year, they’ll be doing so in several shades of blue, including turquoise, with red reserved for the collar. It's not so much the de-emphasising of the red that is likely to cause most comments, however - that's been happening for some time - but rather the toying with the colours of what remains one of the world's most readily identifiable flags.
While reaction to the kit is likely to revolve around its aesthetics, there’s a scientific reason too for ensuring that team kit should contain a healthy splurge of red – a study by sports psychologists in Germany published in 2009 found that athletes and teams wearing red kit were 10 per cent were more successful than those wearing other colours.
Researchers suggested that a combination of the confidence the colour inspires and the feelings of dominance and aggression it provoked might lie behind the findings.
There was evidence, too that it wasn’t just competitors who were influenced by kit colour. As part of the research, Tae-Kwondo judges were shown videos of bouts, and awarded more points to those with red, rather than blue belts; when the images were digitally altered to reverse the colours, those whose blue belts had been manipulated to appear red came out on top.
There’s a bit more red on the tracksuit worn by Victoria Pendleton in this picture, although again the change of colour palette of the flag itself is going to jar with purists, not to mention incorporating the belt into its design.
The kit got its launch this morning at the Tower of London. It’s been a few hundred years since they stuck traitors’ heads on spikes on nearby London Bridge, but we wouldn’t be surprised if some of the newspapers are calling for heads to roll come the morning.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.