Riders should keep same jersey number for every race, says Jumbo-Visma boss

Would fixed numbers help fans spot their favourite riders?

Jumbo Visma's 2020 kit

Riders should keep the same jersey number across different races, according to the Jumbo-Visma team boss.

The suggestion was also recently made by Justin Williams, the US-based founder of L39ION of Los Angeles racing team, who told Cycling Tips (opens in new tab) riders should have names and numbers on their jerseys, as well as custom helmets.

Currently riders are given their race numbers at the start of each race, leaving it up to fans and commentators to pick out riders from the peloton.

But Richard Plugge, team boss at Dutch WorldTour squad Jumbo, says riders should be given a race number that remains the same across races, to help fans recognise them, In de Leiderstrui reports. (opens in new tab)

Plugge said: “Because of their helmets and sunglasses, riders are difficult to recognise. Helmets will never come off and glasses probably won’t either, but with a fixed number its easier to recognise riders.”

The Dutchman pointed to Formula One as an example, saying it’s impossible to recognise a driver from their helmet, but that fans know Max Verstappen drives number 33.

Plugge said that jersey numbers could also help with the sales of team kit, as fans may want to buy the jersey of their favourite rider.

He said: “I think jersey numbers can increase the sale of shirts, just like when a team is more successful.

“You can really make stars, but the main goal is recognisability for fans and audiences.”

The UCI has announced a reorganisation of the men’s side of professional cycling, which started last year, in an attempt to make the sport more accessible.

Changes included reforming the three-tier division system and the introduction of new league tables.

But the UCI’s announcement proved controversial after an association of professional teams publicly opposed the Classics Series, a new general classification for one-day races.

The UCI announcement also included confirmation of controversial changes to the track cycling calendar, and plans to promote women’s cycling with the aim of improving gender equality in the sport.

In cyclocross, the UCI has also announced it plans to expand the World Cup from nine to 16 rounds, but this also proved controversial as some feared the financial burden would be too great for teams.

>>> ‘FTP and weight are the wrong questions to ask’: Alex Dowsett’s tips for youngsters aspiring to WorldTour 

Cyclocross great Sven Nys, now a team manager, and the organiser of the only Swiss round of the World Cup Christian Rocha have both been critical of the changes.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.