Wednesday, October 4, 2023

PEZ Is going to the Motion pictures: The Legend of the Rainbow Jersey


With the new UCI Global Championships in Glasgow overlaying virtually each side {of professional} motorbike racing excluding for cyclocross, there used to be masses to have a good time. Whilst there have been epic battles aplenty (i.e., the Males’s Elite Person Pursuit), the premier occasions will have to be regarded as the Elite Males’s and Ladies’s Highway Races, each with deserving winners of the Rainbow Jersey in Mathieu van der Poel and Lotte Kopecky respectively. And, fortuitously, no one discussed The Curse.

The Rainbow Jersey of the Highway Global Champion is a sacred vestment in professional biking, the one jersey that the winner will get to put on in each race for the next yr, in contrast to race-specific clothes such because the Maillot Jaune within the Excursion de France or the Maglia Rosa within the Giro d’Italia. Biking is a conservative game, regularly taking a look to the previous, which is simple to do given the historical past of the racing calendar. And cyclists being a every so often superstitious lot, with traditions equivalent to pinning the race quantity 13 on upside, the focal point at the luck or disasters of the wearers of the Rainbow Jersey has brought about some to believe it to be one thing cursed. This query is the topic of a brand new GCN+ documentary, “The Legend of the Rainbow Jersey.”

van vleuten
Global champion Annemiek van Vleuten

Cillian Kelly is GCN’s statistician and as a presenter right here has a fan’s childlike enthusiasm for all issues biking. The display starts with a consult with to an Irish fortune teller, who, upon being given a Rainbow Jersey to maintain, proclaims it to be a garment of a lot emotion or even some tragedy. Kelly’s process is to convey the tale of the jersey and its darkish previous into the sunshine and he undertakes this problem by means of going to Belgium, the epicentre of biking, and in time for the 2023 Liėge-Bastogne-Liėge race.

Evenepoel in Liège

The idea of The Curse is that winners of it have a dreadful season the next yr and that is surely true in some instances. Stephen Roche, who had an important yr in 1987 by means of profitable the Giro, the Excursion and the Global Championship, gained not anything in 1988, and a number of other different riders had information that weren’t significantly better, despite the fact that Freddy Maertens, who had an attractive depressing yr in 1982 after his 1981 Worlds win, could also be the rider with essentially the most wins in a season (44), which came about the yr after his first Rainbow Jersey win in 1976! Others have studied The Curse and get a hold of 3 logical interpretations: the Highlight Impact, the place the disasters of the champion are a lot more famous than the ones of different riders; the Marked Guy Impact, the place the visibility of the jersey manner redu’s ced alternatives for assaults or escapes; and the Regression to the Imply, the place the rider, who had a stellar yr profitable the jersey, returns to his (or her) same old shape the next yr.

Kelly with the rainbow jersey of Benoni Beheyt

Statistician Kelly makes an attempt to run in the course of the numbers of what came about to winners and isn’t satisfied there is sufficient to say the jersey in point of fact does have a destructive impact on a rider. He categorizes winners is a special means as smartly: a) stars-to-be early of their careers; b) stars of their top; c) stars finishing their careers; and d) the outsiders. Visiting the very good biking museum in Roeselare, Belgium, he pull out a panel with the jersey and medals of 1963 winner Benoni Beheyt, who grabbed and held again fellow countryman and biking legend Rik van Looy, to take the win, to the mortification of all of the nation and kind of the tip of his personal occupation.

Jean-Pierre Monseré

Possibly The Curse could be maximum appropriate within the tale of younger “Jempi,” Jean-Pierre Monseré. He gained gained the Worlds in August 1970 and died the next March at 22 in a minor race whilst dressed in the Rainbow Jersey as he used to be making ready for Milan-San Remo. He used to be struck by means of a automotive that entered the direction and the museum in Roeselare has a very good exhibition dedicated to him. (Kelly does now not point out that horrible postcript to this: 5 years later Monseré’s seven yr outdated son Giovanni died after being struck by means of a automotive whilst using his racing bicyle—and whilst dressed in a Rainbow Jersey).


After all, lots of the riders discussed by means of Kelly had very good seasons after their Worlds victories so he comes to a decision to speak with a spread of folks about The Curse, together with newshounds, fanatics at L-B-L, and quite a lot of the professional racers getting in a position for the race. Not one of the younger racers appeared satisfied of any more or less curse (excluding most likely that they’d now not been in a position to in reality win it but!) and the fanatics have been in doubt as smartly, despite the fact that if their guy Remco didn’t win L-B-L that day they might believe it, possibly. After all, Remco Evenepoel’s 2023 season used to be to be a portrait of a bicycle owner energized by means of the Rainbow Jersey…

With the fanatics in Liège

Kelly has the chance to interview a number of of the previous winners of the jersey: Johan Museeuw does now not consider there’s a “ghost at the jersey,” and his season in 1997 began reasonably smartly, despite the fact that failure to win his two largest races, Flanders and Roubaix, that yr, used to be a letdown however racing at this degree is all the time exhausting. Michal Kwiatkowski, 2014 winner, appeared ambivalent about The Curse, noting that transferring round within the peloton used to be more straightforward with the jersey, whilst using clear of it used to be now not. Rui Costa (2013 winner) speaks of the force to accomplish with the jersey, and the way different riders deal with you. That is amplified by means of Philippe Gilbert (Mr. 2012), who obviously has admire for the jersey and what it manner however obviously didn’t benefit from the mental impact. He notes that he used to be an attacker and whilst you have been the Rainbow Jersey it isn’t that a couple of different riders wish to pass with you however extra like 50 in a race, so in many ways it modified him as a racer.

Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert’s 2013 used to be now not all that groovy (one degree on the Vuelta) however within the years following he would upload a lot lustre to his palmares, with wins on the Excursion of Flanders, Amstel Gold, and Paris-Roubaix, to quote only some successes. Annemiek van Vleuten, whom Kelly notes that on the time of filming had just a 3rd position win in her post-2022 occupation within the Rainbow Jersey, would in fact win two of the foremost girls’s degree races (in Italy and Spain) later within the season as she prepares for retirement after an astonishing occupation. And we all know that Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen each had apparently unending wins within the Rainbow Jersey and afterwards, so no curse there.

Kelly spoke to Johan Museeuw

“The Legend of the Rainbow Jersey” is an relaxing hour to spend with Cillian Kelly, the biking nerd’s biking nerd, as he performs the historian, the star-struck fan, assembly legends of the game, the star-struck fan consuming a lager on Los angeles Redoute with the opposite beer-drinking fanatics, or even present process merchantile remedy as he retail outlets for jerseys. This is a great dive into the historical past of considered one of professional biking’s iconic clothes and the fascinating characters who’ve campaigned in it, whether or not beset by means of qualms or taking part in it to the total.

Michal Kwiatkowski
Michal Kwiatkowski idea at the rainbow jersey

“The Legend of the Rainbow Jersey”
Presened by means of Cillian Kelly, directed by means of Harry Dowdney
51 mins
GCN+ Originals, 2023
To be had thru streaming on GCN+

That jersey

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