Rapha to leave Sky for Africa?
At the end of the 2016 season, high priced cycling apparel purveyor Rapha will part ways with Team Sky after a successful four year partnership.
However head Rapha man Simon Mottram insists the brand will continue to support cycling “in many ways” and hinted at what might come next? Will they leave rainy England for the dry, parched savanna of Africa?
“From 2017 we will continue to support racing in many ways, especially locally, but we will also focus on new geographies, partnerships and categories. We will be announcing news on these exciting developments soon.”
It’s the word geographies that provide all the intrigue? Where is Rapha traveling to exactly — Africa, Russia, North Pole?
Twisted Spoke puts our hard-earned dollars on Africa and team Dimension Data — the former MTN-Qhubeka squad that now employs former Sky riders Edvald Boassen Hagen, Steve Cummings, Bernie Eisel and of course, the Manxman himself, Mark Cavendish.
This makes perfect marketing sense — which is the only sense worth applying to a business decision. Rapha remains the most well-crafted apparel brand in cycling and they’ve always told stories — written, photo essays and videos — that captured the essence of their story.
Africa is ripe with storytelling potential in the same rich and evocative way the MTN-Qhubeka championed the bikes for Africa project. (We’ve already chronicled the real possibility Cav will race on the same 40 pound steel “Buffalo” bike the Qhubeka foundation have given to especially students in rural areas who are forced to walk a hour to school each way.
Now imagine that those school children had cool Buffalo bikes AND a stylish Rapha Cycling outfit? Can you imagine what looking stylish in a performance blend of lycra and organic wool fabrics would do for their self esteem and test scores? Can you dream of a world where poor African children are fully accessorized with Rapha gear?
- More than 54 000 bikes have been distributed by Qhubeka since 2005. Now what if they were all as well dressed as Chris Froome?
- A child’s commute time to school is reduced by up to 75% with a bicycle — and 83% when wearing a signature piece from the Rapha collection.
- A bicycle increases a person’s carrying capacity by five times — and imagine the success of that small entrepreneur when he arrives wearing a Rapha merino classic polo?
- Healthcare workers can visit more than double the amount of patients per day with a bicycle. And don’t you trust a doctor more when he’s attired in Rapha Randonnee shorts?
- Marks improve by an average of 25% for children who ride a bicycle to school. They may even eventually make enough money to buy Rapha at full retail price.
- Schools where children ride bicycles see attendance rates rise by 18% on average. Can you not picture a full classroom of adorable bright eyes African boys and girls all wearing Rapha’s Tom Simpson tribute cycling caps?
These facts make it abundantly clear that when Rapha’s Mottram talks about “new geographies,” he’s got his eyes on something continent-sized. And it’s an ideal testing ground for the new Rapha Summer Savannah collection.