By Bryan Redemske
The Giants won the Super Bowl, and all they’ll have to show for it — aside from the shiny trophy — is a jersey patch. Maybe. The Red Sox won the World Series in the fall. They may wear a cap patch or jersey patch for their first home series, but they won’t have any other overt, uni-borne tribute to their championship. Contrast that with cycling, where a national or world championship is worth a year of bragging rights, right on your chest.
Everybody knows about the Tour de France and the maillot jaune — the yellow jersey. But it’s far from the only jersey to be won over the course of the year. While all professional — and many amateur — stage races have leader’s jerseys, world championship and national championship jerseys are precious commodities.
The rainbow jersey, awarded to the UCI (cycling’s international governing body) world champion in a number of cycling disciplines, pretty much always looks like this. Depending upon the budget, some teams choose to outfit their rider in a full kit of stripes. But the rules attached to the jersey are arguably more important than the jersey itself:
A world champion must wear the jersey when competing in the same discipline, category and speciality for which the title was won. For example, the world road race champion would wear the garment while competing in stage races and one-day races, but would not be entitled to wear it during time trials. Similarly, on the track, the world individual pursuit champion would only wear the jersey when competing in other individual pursuit events.
Also, after a rider’s year-long reign, he gets to keep the stripes:
After the end of a rider’s championship year, they are eligible to wear piping in the same rainbow pattern on the collar and cuffs of their jersey. They retain this right for the remainder of their career, and like the jersey it can only be worn in the same discipline and speciality in which the title was won.
Additionally, if the world champion leads a stage race, he or she must wear that race’s leader’s jersey instead of the rainbow stripes. Also, failure to wear the stripes when required results in a fine. Damn.
Aside from the world champion, the pro peloton is also dotted with various national champions. The deal here is the same — wear your national championship gear for the event in which you won it. Here’s 2006 U.S. champion George Hincapie in his road race kit and time trial suit. When teammate Levi Leipheimer won the 2007 U.S. championship, he took over the stars and stripes and Hincapie went back to Discovery Channel’s black-and-blue kit. That’s Leipheimer on the left and Hincapie in the Tour of Missouri leader’s jersey.
This year, Leipheimer is riding for Astana, since Discovery Channel disbanded. His new kit leaves a little to be desired. I really hope that’s just a rough version. Hincapie, now riding for Team High Road (formerly T-Mobile), can wear the U.S. champion’s stripes on his cuffs and collar if he chooses.
And here’s what the rest of the world looks like. The plain-looking ones (no sponsors) are podium jerseys, awarded immediately after the championship race. Those with sponsors are the rider’s kit for the year. Those countries with multiple jerseys have a number of disciplines shown. “RR” is road race, while “CLM” is time trial and “U23” is the under-23 competition. “CC” is cyclocross, but I haven’t the slightest idea what “ST” is.
Though most of that site is in German, it’s worth exploring a little further. Almost every pro team — on a number of levels — is represented, from 2000 to 2007. When the Tour of California gets underway on Feb. 17, we’ll get a look at some of the new versions of the national champions jerseys — including Leipheimer’s. Many stay similar year to year, but if there’s something particularly interesting, I’ll try to grab it.
Next time you think somebody’s jersey patch is a little much, just remember it could look like this.
And now over to Paul for today’s Ticker…
Uni Watch News Ticker: It takes a good 10 or 15 minutes to digest, but there’s a fascinatingly detailed authentication analysis of a Babe Ruth jersey here (with thanks to Dave Grob). … Yikes (with “thanks” to Glenn Chamberlain). … Bryan Packer reports that the Utes have kicked Nike to the curb. … Yesterday’s comments included a link to an eBay auction for this amazing photo, which shows Larry Doby wearing the kind of wraparound helmet that I had to wear while running the bases in Little League. Incredible. When I showed the photo to Todd Radom, he responded with this, which shows Jimmie Foxx posing with the A.L. and N.L. batboys at the 1936 All-Star Game. … Some wise-ass says this made him think of Uni Watch. … The pink thing has really gotten out of hand. … Ohio University has taken the unusual step of changing its hockey uni in the middle of the season, going from this to this. “They just make me want to throw up when I see them out there on the ice,” says Patrick LaBute, who brought the situation to my attention. “The fact that the base color is gray is bad enough, followed by the ‘shiny’ material you would find on a basketball team. Oh, and the ugly giant green stripe that’s WAY too big at the bottom. AND the different colored piping, black on the bottom stripes and sleeve stripes, and white on the numbers and crest??? (I was told this was a mistake by the team manager.)” Yeah, but Patrick, how do you really feel about them? … Scroll down to the sixth paragraph of this page for some interesting info on Marc-Andre Fleury’s switch from yellow goalie pads to white.