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What is a Rainbow Jersey?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The rainbow jersey is the distinctive jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a bicycle racing 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 racingtrack racingcyclo-crossBMX, Trials and the disciplines within mountain biking.


The UCI Road World Championships, often referred to as the World Cycling Championships, is the annual world championshipfor bicycle road racing organized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The UCI Road World Championships include championships for elite men’s road race and individual time trial. In addition, women’s world championship events are held for the same events in the same manner ; under-23 world championship for cyclists under the age of 23 years old; junior world championships for cyclists under the age of 19 years old.

  • The winner of the UCI Road World Championships road race is considered the World Cycling Champion (or World Road Cycling Champion) and earns the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey for a full year in road race or stage events. The event is a single ‘mass start’ road race, the winner being the first across the line at the completion of the full race distance.
  • The winner of the UCI Road World Championships Time Trial is considered the World Time Trial Champion and earns the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey for a full year in individual time trial (ITT) events or stages (for example, the prologue and ITT stages at the Tour de France or other stage races).

Both the road race and individual time trial events are competed by riders organized by national cycling teams as opposed to commercially sponsored or trade teams, which is the standard in professional cycling.

The rainbow jersey is awarded to each cycling world champion, but how did the tradition start and what does it represent?