Rapha Releases Gravel-Specific Racing Jersey

In elite-level bike racing, nothing is permanent except change. The situation can shift in an instant, one move can make all the difference, and one day can make an entire career. Their
ability to adapt determines how long a racer stays at the front. But recently the sport has been changing in more significant ways. In the US particularly, road racing has been in decline, replaced by the emergence of endurance gravel racing. And with the shift away from the old centre-ground has come to a shift in elite-level racewear.

“When we created the Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts we realized that woven fabrics work extremely well,” says Harry Osborn, the designer. “They allow us to take a lighter textile but still create a compressive ‘race’ fit. There was an obvious opportunity to apply what we’d learned to our jerseys, and specifically address some of the issues faced by our gravel athletes.”

Race distances regularly run into the hundreds of miles at US gravel events so riders are required to carry everything they’ll need to sustain themselves and their machines. Midway through the legendary Unbound Gravel course in Kansas, there’s a 100km section with no resupply point of any kind. The new Pro Team Gravel Jersey was created to deliver complete self-sufficiency and extra ventilation, all at race pace. “Athletes wanted to be able to store everything – nutrition, tools, even tubeless repair kits – in a jersey that is aerodynamic but can be unzipped for added ventilation when racing on the hottest days.”
Across the shoulders, the Gravel Jersey features an aerodynamic panel construction very similar to that of the Crit Jersey. But to the front of the jersey, the priority is breathability. Lightweight, air-permeable fabrics here and under the arm promote cooling airflow for efficient temperature regulation in the heat.

But lightweight fabrics flapping open in the wind tend not to support loaded pockets, so to
balance the dual requirements of our athletes, a technical innovation was needed in the form of a new waistband design. “We’ve used a high-power lightweight woven fabric to hold the pockets tight to the body without being restrictive. The addition of a 3⁄4 zip then means that you can open the jersey wide for ventilation without compromising pocket support at all, even on really rough terrain.”

“In line with feedback from female wear testers – who included Sarah Sturm and Maghalie Rochette – we’ve added a full-length zip to the women’s version to make it easier to put on but both designs still really deliver on both ventilation and pocket stability.”

As well as aiding pocket stability, the lightweight woven fabric used on the Gravel Jersey’s back panel offers a high degree of UV protection. This is crucial at gravel races, many of which are run in extreme temperatures on courses with long sections of exposed terrain.

Explore the full Pro Team collections here.