The professional cycling team postcard – traditionally a necessary part of the promotion of any cycling team, showing the season’s roster of riders, and the all important patronage of their team sponsor. More often than not they provide a time capsule, giving a glimpse into another age of design and aesthetics.
Sometimes it all comes together beautifully – the combination of kit, sponsor and setting for the team photo giving a truly elegant result. While at other times, it seems that the obligation to complete the photograph was something of a rushed, and barely considered affair.
Here’s a lighthearted view at the teams who nailed it, those that missed the mark, and the others that didn’t even seem to be on the same playing field…
The almost military precision of this effort from the 1978 Belgian team a thing of real beauty. One of the greatest jersey designs lined up here to great effect. Bonus points for the dune buggy publicity caravan vehicles in the background, and the two smiling ladies perched on the roof, ready to hand out free product *cough*
No matter where you put a squad of riders dressed in this kit, it’s always going to look good. Smiles all round from the 1974 Brooklyn équipe, before they all helped give the team car a push out of the sand.
At the heart of any team is the Directeur Sportif, as communicated brilliantly here by the choice of location for the postcard of the 1985 Vini Ricordi-Pinnarello-Sidermec team. Their jersey design for that season a new discovery for me, and perhaps while slightly ostentatious, I’m feeling it…
They don’t make them like this anymore… A postcard from Bianchi for 1949 worthy of hanging in an art gallery. Bellissima!
A very neat and tidy effort here from the Spanish Teka team of 1979. A few riders looking off camera but we’ll let it pass, as the sun seemed to be shining directly in their eyes.
The amateur riders of the Dutch Gazelle team. The swagger of youth, the nonchalance, these are some of the coolest kids on the block. Looking here more like a cast of extras from the film ‘The Warriors’ – if you’re in their territory you better come in peace, or prepare to rumble.
The symmetry, the setting, the kit (of course), and those beautiful team support cars. The équipe of the 1972 SCIC team looking the very definition of Italian elegance! And while we’re on the subject of beautiful team cars, here’s a bonus below from 1970…
Oh dear me no, must try harder. The 1983 Wolber team had their priorities, but the team postcard definitely wasn’t one of them. About the only element of note here is the DS Jacky Blanchard’s bristling moustache.
Looking like PlayMobil figures stuck in some kind of ‘Truman Show’ dystopian nightmare, the 1985 équipe for Amstel are wondering just what they have got themselves involved in here…
All elements are in place here for the team postcard of 1978 – including the photographers shadow. We’ll pretend we didn’t see it.
Looking like a men’s choir ready to burst into song, the 1982 La Redoute team seem somewhat lost in this vertigo inducing image. Even the mighty La Vie Claire team couldn’t pull off the same coastline setting, the forced smile on Hinault’s face says it all really.
Channelling the MTV generation with this self-referential effort from the Dutch team sponsor, the electronics store Skala. Probably the only time you’d ever see the équipe on TV all wearing matching flip-flops too.
Riders for the Dutch Zuiden Veld team next to, leaning, sitting, and standing on, a rock. Thankyou.
Now this one must have required a good few takes! The 1981 squad for Peugeot showing in unison they can all cycle up a hill and look at a camera lens, while being shouted at by a photographer. Consummate professionalism here from the boys in monochrome.
Probably more inspiring settings to choose from than the sponsors warehouse, but I’m sure Sonolor were happy to get their 1970 range of products in the shot.
Now right here, when it comes to getting the sponsor products in shot, Super Ser doesn’t mess around. The riders looking like they’re ready to burst out laughing too, marvellous.
The Kalmi équipe of 1967 joined by a couple of honorary team members for the shoot. Just watch those toes lads…
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post from Oliver Knight. Thanks also go to both Denis Barret and Gordon Tiemstra for sharing some of their postcards contained within their extensive collections.
More from the culture, craft and heritage of cycling’s rich legacy can be found within the pages of Oliver's books ‘The Cycling Jersey – Craftsmanship, Speed and Style‘, and his follow-up title ‘Pro Cycling Style – Woven into History’.
Both large format coffee table books packed with over 500 images, and feature a host of interviews with the professional riders who created this legacy, the world’s leading memorabilia collectors, and the creative teams behind brands including Rapha, Castelli and Santini, who are now producing the breakthrough designs defining the modern era.