The UCI, cycling’s governing body, take their image rights of the rainbow stripes very seriously. The five colours, arranged as they are in order blue, red, black, yellow, green are a registered trademark and their use on any piece of bicycle equipment must be approved by the UCI themselves. They have many pages of rules and regulations regarding the rainbow stripes of World Champion available on their website.
Mark Cavendish, the current World road race champion has broken these rules.
The following is a photo of Cavendish on the podium in Copenhagen shortly after accepting his prize for winning the biggest one-day race in cycling.
This is the style of jersey that every world champion wears with no exceptions.
An example of this jersey is provided by the UCI in their regulations.
The only difference between the jersey that Cavendish was presented with in Copenhagen and one which he wears from now on while racing should be the position of his team sponsors’ logos. The details of the size and positioning of the logos is clearly defined in the UCI’s regulations.
But Cavendish’s jersey which he was worn since his victory does not conform to these regulations. He has been wearing an odd variation which breaks the iconic rainbow stripes so they are not continuous around his torso.
While it doesn’t explicitly say in these regulations that the rainbow stripes must be continuous, it does say:
The design, including colours and layout, of each world champion’s jersey is the exclusive property of the UCI.
The jersey may not be reproduced without UCI authorisation. The design may in no way be modified.
In addition, these regulations also state that the world champion of one discipline cannot wear their world champion’s jersey while competing in another. For instance, world cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar can wear his rainbow stripes whilst competing in cyclo-cross events over the winter. But as soon as he goes back to road racing with his Quick Step team, he has to revert back to the standard issue team kit.
Mark Cavendish has also disobeyed this rule by wearing his rainbow jersey as road race champion in a track meet in the UK Revolution series yesterday.
For breaking these rules he is subject to a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs. He is not likely to ride any more for HTC this year, so Team Sky will be providing him with a new world champion’s jersey anyway. But why the understated look?
By wearing his rainbow stripes on the track, even though he’s not supposed to, it sends the message that he wants to be seen as much as possible in the iconic jersey. But then, the jersey design sends exactly the opposite message.
At first glance it’s not entirely clear that he’s wearing the rainbow jersey at all. Does he not want to stand out and send the message ‘I’m Mark Cavendish and I’m the World Champion’?
Isn’t that the whole point?
Edit: Having contacted the organisers of the Revolution series, a spokesman responded with the following when asked about the legalities of Cavendish wearing the Rainbow Jersey at the recent series in the Manchester Velodrome:
The rules can only be applied to UCI events and Revolution is not a UCI event so we can get riders to wear anything we like.
Having also contacted the UCI, they repsonded with a different view on things:
Regarding the track exhibition race, [Cavendish] shouldn’t have worn his world champion jersey. But as far as I know, we cannot do anything in retrospect as it was certainly not a UCI recognized event or part of the International Calendar.
The rainbow is the exclusive property of the UCI and I can tell you that it is a nightmare to fight against misuses of this registered trademark! But we are going to be more and more severe according to the same.
The UCI also had this to say about Cavendish’s strange variation on the Rainbow Jersey which he wore at the Revolution series and at Paris-Tours:
Cavendish has already been fined for wearing neither a correct nor submitted jersey on the occasion of Paris-Tours 2011.