The Psychology of a Polka Dot

polka dot

The rider of the 2017 Tour de France was, for my money, Warren Barguil.

While Froome, Bardet and Uran earnestly contested the podium, Barguil was usually getting busy up the road; sweeping up King of the Mountain points, on the front foot.

In his floppy limbed, laid back style, he wrapped up his Polka Dot jersey on the summit finish of the Col d’Isoard. He was a free-form joy to watch.

This year, 2018, as the race has rattled through the Alps shedding riders along the way, “Wawa” Barguil has finally graced our screens again. He is well placed for a Pyrenean odyssey over the final week and a second Polka Dot jersey in as many years.

I, for one, am delighted to have him back.

A delight tempered only by the sight of his Fortuneo–Samsic team kit, which is clearly many shades of wrong.

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There are the dreaded white shorts, for starters. The arm and leg grippers are a terrible lime-green. The jumble of blue stripes around the stomach are rumpled and lost, visually, as soon as Barguil assumes the riding position. And there’s a rash of too many sponsor’s logos.

It’s a mess.

A mess which I can only assume is part of the plan.

In 2017 Barguil was riding for Sunweb. Prior to slipping on the dots he was decked out in the German team’s functionally inoffensive uniform. Since moving to Fortuneo-Samsic we’ve heard rumbles about a lack of motivation in the off-season; a rumoured preference for roller blading with his girlfriend, for example, rather than training for a Grand Tour.

Could it be that his new team bosses have hatched a psychological plan using the medium of cycling fashion? Has Warren been decked out in this tragedy for reasons of motivation?

The sooner he gets the Polka Dot Jersey, and the longer he wears it for, the less he has to put up with the standard team-issue white/green/stripy affair.

It’s a clever plan, in which I can see only one problem.

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I’ve noticed that from the back, when the dark blue lower-half stripes are fully on display and the logos are less visible, the Fortuneo-Samsic kit transforms, almost magically, by way of optical illusion, from muddled mishap into object of desire.

It’s uncanny.

If Wawa gets wind of this he may ditch his Polka Dot ambitions and assume a position at the rear of the peloton alongside Lawson Craddock and the ghost of Steve Cummings. That way, the only screen time he’ll get is from behind, as the director checks in with the stragglers “arrière du peloton”.

Solving the kit conundrum and saving his legs for roller blading.

This could go either way.

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