Rainbow jersey

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The 2012 world road race champion Philippe Gilbert wearing the rainbow jersey.
The 2013 world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk wearing the time trial rainbow jersey
Katrin Schultheis wearing the rainbow jersey for artistic cycling
Stefan Nimke, 2012 men's 1 km time trial world champion wearing the track rainbow jersey

The rainbow jersey is the distinctive jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a cycling discipline, since 1927. The jersey is predominantly white with five horizontal bands in the UCI colours around the chest. From the bottom up the colours are: green, yellow, black, red and blue; the same colours that appear in the rings on the Olympic flag. The tradition is applied to all disciplines, including road racing, track racing, cyclo-cross, BMX, Trials and the disciplines within mountain biking. 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 (except for time trial stages) 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.[1] In team events, such as the team pursuit, each member of the team must wear the rainbow jersey, but would not wear it while racing in, say, points races or other track disciplines. If the holder of a rainbow jersey becomes leader of a stage race or a category within it, that leadership jersey takes precedence. Failure to wear the rainbow jersey where required carries a penalty of a fine.[2]

After the end of a rider's time as champion, they are eligible to wear piping in the same rainbow pattern on the collar and cuffs of their jersey for the remainder of their career.

Reigning world champions[edit]

The reigning world champions (elite only) are as follows:

Discipline Event World Champion Men World Champion Women Next Championships
Road Road race  Mathieu van der Poel (NED)  Lotte Kopecky (BEL) September 2024
Time trial  Remco Evenepoel (BEL)  Chloé Dygert (USA)
Mixed relay   Switzerland
Mauro Schmid
Stefan Küng
Stefan Bissegger
Elise Chabbey
Marlen Reusser
Nicole Koller
Track Sprint  Harrie Lavreysen (NED)  Emma Finucane (GBR) October 2024
Team sprint  Netherlands
Roy van den Berg
Harrie Lavreysen
Jeffrey Hoogland
Pauline Grabosch
Emma Hinze
Lea Friedrich
Time trial  Jeffrey Hoogland (NED)  Emma Hinze (GER)
Keirin  Kevin Quintero (COL)  Ellesse Andrews (NZL)
Individual pursuit  Filippo Ganna (ITA)  Chloé Dygert (USA)
Team pursuit  Denmark
Niklas Larsen
Carl-Frederik Bévort
Lasse Norman Leth
Rasmus Pedersen
Frederik Rodenberg
 Great Britain
Katie Archibald
Elinor Barker
Josie Knight
Anna Morris
Megan Barker
Scratch race  William Tidball (GBR)  Jennifer Valente (USA)
Points race  Aaron Gate (NZL)  Lotte Kopecky (BEL)
Elimination race  Ethan Vernon (GBR)  Lotte Kopecky (BEL)
Madison  Netherlands
Jan Willem van Schip
Yoeri Havik
 Great Britain
Neah Evans
Elinor Barker
Omnium  Iúri Leitão (POR)  Jennifer Valente (USA)
Cyclo-cross Elite  Mathieu van der Poel (NED)  Fem van Empel (NED) January 2024
Mountain bike Cross-country Olympic  Tom Pidcock (GBR)  Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA) August/September 2024
Cross-country short track  Sam Gaze (NZL)  Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA)
E-MTB Cross-country  Joris Ryf (SUI)  Nathalie Schneitter (SUI)
Cross-country relay   Switzerland
Dario Lillo
Nicolas Halter
Linda Indergand
Ronja Blöchlinger
Anina Hutter
Nino Schurter
Downhill  Charlie Hatton (GBR)  Valentina Höll (AUT)
Cross-country eliminator  Titouan Perrin-Ganier (FRA)  Gaia Tormena (ITA) October 2023
Four-cross  Tomáš Slavík (CZE)  Michaela Hájková (CZE) TBD
Marathon  Henrique Avancini (BRA)  Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) September 2024
Pump track  Niels Bensink (NED)  Christa von Niederhäusern (SUI) November 2023
BMX racing Elite  Romain Mahieu (FRA)  Beth Shriever (GBR) May 2024
Urban BMX freestyle park  Kieran Reilly (GBR)  Hannah Roberts (USA) 2024
BMX freestyle flatland  Yu Shoji (JPN)  Aude Cassagne (FRA)
20 inch trials  Alejandro Montalvo (ESP) Not applicable
26 inch trials  Jack Carthy (GBR)
Open trials Not applicable  Nina Reichenbach (GER)
Mixed team  Spain
Borja Conejos
Daniel Barón
Daniel Cegarra
Víctor Pérez
Vera Barón
Artistic Single  Lukas Kohl (GER)  Ramona Dandl (GER) TBD
Open four   Switzerland
Stefanie Moos
Vanessa Hotz
Flavia Schürmann
Carole Ledergerber
Pairs Not applicable  Germany
Selina Marquardt
Helen Vordermeier
Open pairs  Germany
Serafin Schefold
Max Hanselmann
Cycle ball  Germany
André Kopp
Raphael Kopp
Claire Feyler
Nadine Jacqueline Weber
Gravel Elite  Matej Mohorič (SLO)  Katarzyna Niewiadoma (POL) October 2023
Rainbow Jersey of Jean-Pierre Monseré won in 1970, Leicester (collection KOERS Museum of Cycle Racing)

Curse of the rainbow jersey[edit]

The curse of the rainbow jersey is a popular term to refer to the phenomenon where cyclists who have become World Champion often suffer from poor luck the next year – though, in some cases, the 'bad luck' was brought on by their own actions.

In 2015 an article by epidemiologist Thomas Perneger examining the curse was published in The BMJ. The study was based on statistical analysis of the results of World Road Champions and winners of the Giro di Lombardia (which was used as a comparison) in the riders' winning seasons and for the two years afterwards (to enable comparison of results before, during and after the supposed curse was in effect). The patterns of data were compared to four statistical models: the "spotlight effect", based on the theory that the apparent curse is due to increased public attention on the World Champion rather than a decline in success; the "marked man" hypothesis, which stipulates that the current wearer of the jersey is more closely marked by rivals during their year as champion; the "regression to the mean" model, which supposes that random variation in success rates will mean that a highly successful season for a rider is likely to be followed by less successful years; and a model combining the last two theories. The study found that the regression to the mean model was the one that fit the data best, for winners of both the World Championship and Il Lombardia, concluding that the curse probably does not exist. The author related the idea of the curse to medical professionals conflating correlation with causation when considering the effect of treatment on a patient.[3]


In the past, each discipline had its own variation of the jersey.[4] Since the 2016 Cyclo-cross Worlds, the 'classic' jersey without symbols (previously reserved for the road race and paracycling road race) was assigned to all disciplines.[5]

World Cup Leader jersey

World Cup version[edit]

The UCI Road World Cup (1989–2004) leader wore a rainbow jersey with a vertical rainbow.

While the world champion wore the jersey in all events of the year in the specialization of his world title (the road champion wore it only in mass start road events, not, for example, in time trials or in track events), the World Cup leader wore it only in World Cup races.

Other sports[edit]

Rainbow jersey colors have been used unofficially by triathlon, speed skating and Crashed Ice world champions.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ UCI regulation 1.3.063
  2. ^ UCI regulation 1.3.072
  3. ^ Perneger, Thomas (14 December 2015). "Debunking the curse of the rainbow jersey: historical cohort study". The BMJ. 351 (h6304): h6304. doi:10.1136/bmj.h6304. PMC 4986283. PMID 26668173.
  4. ^ UCI regulation 1.3.062
  5. ^ "UCI on Twitter".