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Robin Wil­mott slips into this new Rapha Cross out­fit and braves the rain, grass, grit and gen­eral win­ter grim­ness to put this ‘fash­ion-for­ward’ jersey and shorts combo through its paces.

Rapha has sup­ported cy­clocross with its lim­ited range of themed cloth­ing for sev­eral years now, and the 2018-2019 sea­son sees a new jersey de­sign, which we’ve matched with some use­fully ex­tended road shorts to get you through the win­ter’s worst.

Jersey

Termed as the Cross Long Sleeve Race Jersey – there’s a short sleeve ver­sion too – this jersey’s fit is based on the Pro Team race jersey, with cy­clocross ad­di­tions. If you’ve not tried Pro Team gear be­fore, check Rapha’s fit­ting guide, as it’s less for­giv­ing than nor­mal.

This year’s pat­tern mixes teal, red, white and pink with the black base colour in to a geo­met­ric de­sign, criss-crossed by par­al­lel lines. Rapha’s Cross colours are eas­ily recog­nis­able in this strik­ing pat­tern, and there’s a full-length zip with a curved, moulded pull that’s easy to grab quickly while rid­ing, a thin em­broi­dered pad in­te­grated into the right shoul­der to as­sist bike shoul­der­ing, and a sil­i­cone grip­per across the rear for re­ten­tion.

The fab­ric is ex­tremely stretchy, and fits as close as a skin­suit, but with a lightly brushed in­ner face and suf­fi­cient ther­mal prop­er­ties to keep you warm with­out over­heat­ing. Flap-free sleeves end in tight cuffs that don’t in­ter­fere with gloves, and the av­er­age height col­lar isn’t too tall. The three rear drop pock­ets are de­signed to stay flat so as not to catch the wind or a car­ried bike, and there’s a small zipped valu­ables pocket too.

Shorts

Rapha’s Pro Team Bib Shorts II build on the durable com­fort of the orig­i­nals, and add a much im­proved leg grip­per. The wide, slim Ly­cra band with in­ter­nally printed sil­i­cone dots grips ef­fec­tively, and spreads the pres­sure over a greater area.

The mesh bibs have folded and bonded edges, re­duc­ing jersey show-through and in­creas­ing long ride com­fort, and the dual den­sity pad is ex­ter­nally con­toured and ex­tremely com­fort­able. Mul­ti­ple pan­els pro­vide great sup­port and this ver­sion is longer in the leg, for ex­tended thigh cov­er­age that’s very wel­come on cold days, and not at all re­stric­tive.

WE SAY The Rapha Cross jersey is at­trac­tive and tech­ni­cally prac­ti­cal RAPHA MERINO MESH BASE­LAYER, SLEEVELESS £50 This light­weight merino-blend base­layer of­fers ex­cel­lent next-toskin com­fort, rapid mois­ture wick­ing and breatha­bil­ity, warmth and an­tibac­te­rial qual­i­ties.

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