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]

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
2016, 2017, 2018 World Champion cyclo-cross Wout van Aert wearing the rainbow jersey

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 championsEdit

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

Discipline Event World Champion Men World Champion Women Next Championships
Road Road race   Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)   Elisa Balsamo (ITA) September 2022
Time trial   Filippo Ganna (ITA)   Ellen van Dijk (NED)
Mixed relay   Germany
Lisa Brennauer
Lisa Klein
Mieke Kröger
Nikias Arndt
Tony Martin
Max Walscheid
Track Sprint   Harrie Lavreysen (NED)   Emma Hinze (GER) October 2022
Team sprint   Netherlands
Roy van den Berg
Harrie Lavreysen
Jeffrey Hoogland
Pauline Grabosch
Lea Friedrich
Emma Hinze
Time trial   Jeffrey Hoogland (NED)   Lea Friedrich (GER)
Keirin   Harrie Lavreysen (NED)   Lea Friedrich (GER)
Individual pursuit   Ashton Lambie (USA)   Lisa Brennauer (GER)
Team pursuit   Italy
Liam Bertazzo
Simone Consonni
Filippo Ganna
Jonathan Milan
Francesco Lamon
Franziska Brauße
Lisa Brennauer
Mieke Kröger
Laura Süßemilch
Scratch race   Donavan Grondin (FRA)   Martina Fidanza (ITA)
Points race   Benjamin Thomas (FRA)   Lotte Kopecky (BEL)
Elimination race   Elia Viviani (ITA)   Letizia Paternoster (ITA)
Madison   Denmark
Lasse Norman Hansen
Michael Mørkøv
Kirsten Wild
Amy Pieters
Omnium   Ethan Hayter (GBR)   Katie Archibald (GBR)
Cyclo-cross Elite   Tom Pidcock (GBR)   Marianne Vos (NED) January 2023
Mountain bike Cross-country Olympic   Nino Schurter (SUI)   Evie Richards (GBR) August 2022
Cross-country short track   Christopher Blevins (USA)   Sina Frei (SUI)
E-MTB Cross-country   Jérôme Gilloux (FRA)   Nicole Göldi (SUI)
Cross-country relay   France
Mathis Azzaro
Adrien Boichis
Lena Gerault
Tatiana Tournut
Line Burquier
Jordan Sarrou
Downhill   Greg Minnaar (RSA)   Myriam Nicole (FRA)
Four-cross   Tomáš Slavík (CZE)   Michaela Hájková (CZE) TBD
Marathon   Andreas Seewald (GER)   Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) September 2022
BMX racing Elite   Niek Kimmann (NED)   Bethany Shriever (GBR) July 2022
Urban BMX freestyle park   Logan Martin (AUS)   Hannah Roberts (USA) TBD
BMX freestyle flatland   Matthias Dandois (FRA)   Irina Sadovnik (AUT)
Cross-country eliminator   Simon Gegenheimer (GER)   Gaia Tormena (ITA) 2022
20 inch trials   Borja Conejos (ESP) Not applicable TBD
26 inch trials   Jack Carthy (GBR)
Open trials Not applicable   Vera Barón (ESP)
Artistic Single   Lukas Kohl (GER)   Milena Slupina (GER) November 2022
Open four   Germany
Nora Erbenich
Sabrina Born
Hannah Rohrwick
Annika Furch
Pairs Not applicable   Germany
Selina Marquardt
Helen Vordermeier
Mixed pairs   Germany
Serafin Schefold
Max Hanselmann
Cycle ball   Germany
Gerhard Mlady
Bernd Mlady
Not applicable
Rainbow Jersey of Jean-Pierre Monseré won in 1970, Leicester (collection KOERS. Museum of Cycle Racing)

Curse of the rainbow jerseyEdit

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]

Other sportsEdit

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

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  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".