The Stories Behind 8 Iconic Cycling Jerseys

Cycling’s most legendary kits embody the feats of the riders who wore them. – By Chris Sidewells

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In his new book, The Art of the Cycling Jersey, published by Rodale, Yorkshire, UK-based author Chris Sidwells explores the history of cycling’s most iconic jerseys (including some worn by his uncle and hero, British world road champion Tom Simpson). Here are some of his favourites.

bianchi

Bianchi

It was the manner and margin of Italian rider Fausto Coppi’s victories that gave the Bianchi jersey its place in cycling. When Coppi won, he was almost always alone, and almost always minutes in front of the next rider.

bic

BIC
BIC, the maker of ballpoint pens, was the first sponsor to commit to almost the entire budget of a team. It had equipment suppliers, but BIC was the only name on the jerseys. The team existed from 1967 to 1974.
mercier
Gan-Mercier
Gan was a French insurance company that cosponsored a team with French bike maker Mercier, from 1972 until 1976, becoming part of a long history: Mercier sponsored a cycling team from 1935 to 1983.
molteni
Molteni
In 1971 Molteni took over Eddy Merckx’s Faema-Faemino team, with one objective: support Merckx. Merckx had one objective: win. Seven Grand Tours, two world titles, and 11 Monuments fell to him in Molteni colors.
polka-dot
Polka Dot
There has been a King of the Mountains title at the Tour since 1933, but the polka dot jersey made its first appearance in 1975. Lucien Van Impe won it that year, the third of his six Tour KOM titles.
rainbow-molteni
Rainbow Molteni
The stripes on the reigning World Champion’s jersey represent the colors on the flags of all the nations that participated in the first modern Olympic Games, held in 1896. Merckx was wearing the rainbow stripes during the 1975 Tour de France, when he was punched by a spectator on the Puy-de-Dome on Stage 14. He lost the race lead to Peugeot’s Bernard Thévenet on the next stage, then crashed on Stage 17 and fractured his cheek, but still finished second in Paris.
salvarani
Salvarani
Salvarani is a maker of stylish kitchen equipment. In the ’60s, its design was inspired in part by Fiat and Vespa, and represented Italian chic. The company also sponsored rock concerts by groups such as the Beatles.
yellow
Yellow Peugeot
This jersey was worn by Bernard Thévenet (then on Peugeot) when he effectively ended Eddy Merckx’s reign on cycling—and five-time Tour de France winning streak—by defeating him to win the 1975 Tour.

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