The 10 most iconic jerseys in cycling history
The cyclist's jersey has been, since the early days of the sport, not only a multi-purpose garment, but also a sign of identity. Made of wool in the early days and of technical fabrics and perfectly fitted patterns today. But beyond functionality, its surface is the canvas on which to show the team's sponsor with designs that have evolved throughout history, some of them remaining forever in the fan's retina.
Legendary cycling jersey designs
Whether it is the design itself, or because they are associated with some legendary riders or era-defining squads, there are certain jerseys that still remain in the imagination of the sport today. These are some of the most famous jerseys that are still commonly seen on the road today, whether in retro rallies or reproductions on modern fabrics.
The reign of the Cannibal Eddy Merckx was linked to the orange and blue colours of the Italian Molteni team that dominated cycling in the early 1970s. Arcore, its main sponsor, was a sausage company located on the outskirts of Milan. A team created to support its leader and which Merckx managed at will without allowing any discordant voice to cast the slightest shadow over him.
La Vie Claire
Still considered today as one of the most beautiful jerseys in the history of cycling, it is inevitably associated with the figures of two great cyclists like Greg Lemond and the Badger, Bernard Hinault, and their internal disputes that heated up the 1985 and 1986 Tours de France.
The manufacturer of the popular ballpoint pens was the first company from outside the sport to take on the sole sponsorship of a cycling team. Its colours were worn by Jacques Anquetil, who was in the last years of his career, and later by Luis Ocaña who, in the best years of his career, was one of the few to stand up to the tyranny of Eddy Merckx, putting him on the ropes in the 1972 Tour de France and taking a resounding victory in the grande boucle the following year.
The history of the longest-running team in the history of cycling, currently under the umbrella of the Movistar communications company, began more than 40 years ago, in 1980, with the sponsorship of the aluminium foil company. Names such as Ángel Arroyo, Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain himself have made the team founded by José Miguel Echavarri into a team without which it is impossible to explain cycling in our country.
If Molteni-Arcore is associated with the figure of the greatest cyclist of all time, the Peugeot chequered jersey is associated with the cyclist who was able to end his reign on the ramps of the Alpine resort of Pra Loup: Bernard Thévenet. However, Peugeot is not only remembered for this episode, but also for being one of the first teams to expand into the Anglo-Saxon world, with the late Tom Simpson and, in the 1980s, Sean Yates and Robert Millar in its ranks.
“Un uomo solo è al comando, la sua maglia è biancoceleste, il suo nome è Fausto Coppi”. With these words Italian journalist Mauro Ferreti started the radio broadcast of one of the most legendary stages of the Giro d'Italia and of all time on June 10, 1948. A jersey associated with the great Fausto but also with the bike brand founded by Edoardo Bianchi.
If we said earlier that the history of Spanish cycling cannot be explained without the Reynolds, neither can it be explained without the Kas, which for 30 years hosted some of the greatest riders. Names like José Manuel Fuentes "El Tarangu", who put Eddy Merckx himself on the ropes in the 1972 Giro, or probably the best classicist of all time, Sean Kelly, during the 80s, were only the most visible faces of a team that fought like no other.
Before the arrival of Sky, Jumbo-Visma or UAE, we have to go back to 1993 to find the first superteam. Sponsored by this chemical company, a squad was born with a lot of money and, out of its 10 years of history, managed to be the best team in the world for 8 years, with the best cyclists of the moment: Olano, Rominger, Museew, Bettini, Freire or Cancellara are just some of the endless list of stars that passed through its ranks. A squad directed by the Belgian Patrick Lefevere that today has its continuity in the current QuickStep.
If we have to mark a moment when modern cycling began, it would surely be the time of Manolo Saiz's ONCE team. He was the first director interested in what science and technological progress could bring to the cyclist's performance. Cutting-edge clothing, futuristic time trial bikes... everything to put men like Zülle, Jalabert and Beloki in a position to compete in the best races in the world.
Making an analogy with The Lord of the Rings, this would be a jersey to rule them all. The colours that identify the reigning World Champion for a whole year, the jersey most coveted by all cyclists and the one that, according to the regulations, has priority to be worn by its wearer over any other. A jersey created by the UCI in 1927 and that some like Eddy Merckx, Óscar Freire or Peter Sagan have practically made their own.
There are other jerseys that could surely be in this selection, which one would you include? Which is your favourite jersey? Tell us about it on our social networks!