Six Days of the Worlds – Reverence: The Rainbow Jersey

Freddy Maertens and two other guys

We would all love to have a rainbow jersey to wear.  Maybe wool, maybe long sleeve.  It is white and beautiful, without argument the most handsome jersey going, yet we as Velominati will never own one.  Well, I won’t and if you have any respect for the Rules neither will you.  If you do own one you never dare wear it unless in your basement, in the dark, where your cycling friends won’t see you.  It’s too magnificent a jersey to be worn by just any cyclist, it looks too good and it means too much.  If ever there was a jersey you have to earn, this is it.

Bobet, Raas, Simpson, Saronni, Moser, Hinault, Merckx, most of the huge names of cycling have earned that privilege because they were the best. Few have been perhaps surprise wearers, Maurizio Fondriest may have lucked into his when Steve Bauer and Claude Criquielion tangled themselves up with the barriers but Maurizio won the sprint by not crashing, so I’m not even going to attempt an argument saying he was undeserving.  Being in position to win this jersey means you are at the sharp end after 250km of racing; that alone means you are deserving.  But dominating after that distance, that’s what actually puts you in the Arc en Ciel.  It’s why Americans are rarely in contention in the Worlds road race; Continental US riders can’t handle the distance.  I remember when Claude Criquielion won in 1984 in Barcelona, he was out the day before doing laps of the course, riding 120km.  I was shocked, had I known of Rule #5 I would have nodded approvingly.  However I would have been in bed with my legs up the day before a day like that.  And that is why he has those stripes and I don’t (among other reasons).

People talk about the curse of the rainbow jersey, but I bet all those riders are still happy to have had a bad season because they still wore that jersey all year long.  And those riders sport the rainbow stripes on the sleeves and collars of their jerseys for the rest of their careers.  It’s subtle and no doubt missed by non-cyclists, but a Velominatus would never miss that.

*Normally, our Reverence posts are accompanied by a black & white image.  As we’re sure you’ll agree, the rainbow bands warrant their full colour representation.

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11 Replies to “Six Days of the Worlds – Reverence: The Rainbow Jersey”

  1. “It’s why Americans are rarely in contention in the Worlds road race; Continental US riders can’t handle the distance.” May well be true – I won’t speculate – but team size is probably the single biggest reason why US riders are rarely in the hunt (and those that are – Lemond, COTHO – are only there because they are beasts). It’s no coincidence that the countries with the biggest representation are there at the pointy end. Which is why life is going to be difficult for Cav.

  2. @Nof Landrien
    Yeah, the Italians always have a large team and always are at the pointy end. I fear that the Americans who just race in the US never do races longer than 160km on a regular basis. And the Italians do.

  3. Were there ever three more badass, classy, and cooler dudes? Merckx and two of the most hardman Apostles there ever were. Fucking rad.

  4. I have a question on this rule, to clarify:

    I have a blue and white Campagnolo jersey with W.C. stripes. It is a really nice Garneau-made jersey and the only one I own that is full zip. I wear it on the hottest days, in order to be able to unzip it and cool off. I’m on a cycling gear spending freeze at the moment, so can’t get a replacement.

    So, my question is: can I break the WC jersey rule in this case, due to a lack of funds? (or, do I need to collect cans for a few weeks and buy a new full-zip one?)

  5. That picture is badass. It screams Rule #5! Cobbles, Merckx, a Brooklyn jersey, a WC jersey, and I bet those motorcycles have AT LEAST 2″ of travel on their front forks.

  6. @Ron
    Can you post a picture of the jersey? Are the W.C. stripes on the cuffs and collar? If it’s not a World Champ replica jersey, I think you might be able to skirt the issue. We need more data, a photo would be best.


    Bronzini representing in Philly. FUCK YEA!

    (Marko’s best BRR impersonation)

  8. Timely article for a bump after Fast PhilGil scores one in THE jersey.  The lead photo is absolutely awe inspiring.  Stuff of the Gods right there.  Reminds me of the Zep line “We are your Overlords.”

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