Icons of cycling: the Rainbow Jersey

There’s magic behind this combination of five colours

Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

In professional cycling the person wearing the rainbow bands is a god. For this reason anybody wearing a replica rainbow jersey on a recreational ride commits an act of blasphemy. To wear a yellow, green or polka-dot jersey when you haven’t actually earned it in the Tour de France is still a sin, but not deserving of eternal damnation the way wearing an unearned rainbow jersey is.

The blue, red, black, yellow and green bands on the pure white background have a power all of their own. To catch sight of them makes any cycling enthusiast simultaneously catch their breath. This is a jersey that has been worn by the greatest cyclists in the world since 1927. Not by domestiques from an unfancied team, but by actual winners who are stronger than everybody else in the world’s most important one-day race.

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Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.