Jerseys not just for show 

The colorful peloton of the Amgen Tour of California might seem like a scrambled rainbow to the untrained eye, but many of the vivid jerseys make an athletic point, as well as a fashion statement.

The red, white and blue, yellow, green, orange and even rainbow versions of team kits all stand for victories riders have chalked up in the current Tour and in previous races. Knowing a bit about the jerseys can help the casual spectator make a little more sense of the blaze of color streaking through the state.

Commemorative jerseys operate in organized cycling a bit like the green blazer of golf’s Masters tournament. However, instead of wearing them forever, as a trophy, riders use them to express their current standing. They can be lost in the same race or at the next year’s event.

Paulo Bettini, the Italian superstar on the Quickstep team, sports a white kit with a rainbow stripe across the jersey — which he won at the World Cycling Championship — as well as gold highlights on his shoes and helmet, which symbolize his 2004 Olympic gold medal.

Meanwhile, American George Hincapie, riding for Discovery Channel, each day dons a red, white and blue stars-and-stripes jersey emblazoned with his team’s logo — a symbol of his victory in the most recent U.S. Pro Road Biking Championships.

Commemorative jerseys are a way for cyclists to show off their status in a sport that has no stadiumsfrom which to fly a pennant. They establish riders’ accomplishments within the sport as a whole and within each race.

In the Tour of California, as in the Tour de France, the yellow jersey symbolizes the overall race leader. The winner of the most bonus points — awarded for performance in sprints and consistently high finishes — dons a green jersey awarded each day. Then there is the best powder-blue-and-red young rider’s jersey, awarded to the rider under 25 with the best overall time. The orange-and-blue king of the mountain jersey goes to the rider with the day’s best climb.

Finally, the blue-and-white most aggressive jersey, voted by the international media, goes to the rider who demonstrates some unique effort or skill during the day’s stage.

So the next time the mixed-up chromatic blaze streaks past on a city street or mountain road, the myriad of colors may make more sense — provided the eye can follow them.

amartin@examiner.com

For the latest news and features about the race, be sure to check our special Amgen Tour of California page.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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