As I write, the 2023 World Championships are underway in Scotland. Riders are competing to wear the fabled 'rainbow jersey' of world champion. I was thinking about this a while back, and about cycling's deafening silence on social issues, and had the idea for this jersey. It stuck in my head and I felt compelled to get it made, so I did.
It was inspired by three things: Lewis Hamilton’s F1 race helmet and his outspoken stance, my baby daughter and the world she’ll grow up in, and, more broadly, by cycling’s dismal inaction on all of the issues addressed here. Remember the belated, hand-scrawled ‘no to racism’ on the covid masks in 2020? At the professional level, cycling has no values and chooses to not use its voice and reach. It's spineless. With no black champion like Lewis Hamilton to kick it into action, the governance has its head buried deep in the sand.
The jersey design is a play on the world champion’s rainbow jersey, obviously. I call it ‘Champion the World’, as in to champion a cause, to lift everyone up.
It features the Pride rainbow flag for LGBTQ+ rights with the peace symbol in the centre, similar to how other track and TT rainbow jerseys place an icon over the rainbow. The background is black, for Black Lives Matter, and ‘End Racism’ is printed prominently across the back.
One sleeve has a pink stripe and female symbol for women’s rights; the other has a planet to represent the climate crisis and the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with their plight.
The Fist of Power on the centre pocket is for the empowerment of everyone to rise up against those who would hold you down. Then there are some calls to action, a twist on the UCI logo, and just below the collar on the back is the French motto: Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité (Equality, Freedom, Brotherhood), which would be a good start if everyone lived it.
There are many other issues and causes worthy of mention and I sincerely hope that no one feels excluded by any omission. Rather, the idea is that the jersey’s calls for ‘social justice now’ on the front and ‘equality and justice for all’ on the back encompass all oppressed and under-served groups.
It would be so easy for cycling to make a statement on social issues. At this point, silence is complicity.
If anyone else wants one of these jerseys, please get in touch and I’ll gather orders for a batch. The dream scenario would be to sell a whole bunch of these and raise money for related causes. I think we could sell them at €80 and pledge at least €30 from each one to charity, depending a little on the size of the order. That will mount up quickly.
Note - for any production version, I’ll make the vertical line of the peace sign on the front wider to show past the zip and broaden the yellow stripe of the Ukraine flag.
The jersey itself is a quality item sourced straight from a respected factory rather than via a brand. It performs very well – it was 29˚ C on the lower slopes of the Col du Tourmalet on the day of the photos and I felt great in it. You can see how well it fits (size M and I’m 185cm, 72kg, 94cm chest, 81cm waist).
Anyone interested can email me at email@example.com . If this takes off I’ll have to make another website!
Peace and love.