The World champion has been breaking rules!

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.


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  1. Simmi - November 20, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    No idea about the bands themselves but the Revolution is not a UCI-approved event so I can’t imagine it matters what jersey he wears. The organisers were also keen to put him in the rainbow jersey.

  2. Irish Cycling Results - November 20, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    Great article Kilian.

    Simmi – Surely Revolution event follows UCI rules, or they got their own rule book or something ?!?

  3. Andy L - November 20, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    I was at the revolution meet last night and I was suprised he wore the hoops. It was nice though, and a great opportunity for the fans.

    I agree about the understated nature of the HTC jersey. Let’s just hope the new
    Sky variant is an improvement!

  4. Peter - November 20, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    Great article – is this an Irish exclusive?

    Can anyone in the UCI cycle as fast a Cav to tell him to take off the unofficial jersey?

  5. Tommy Lamb - November 20, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

    There is no point in having the rule if the World Champion is allowed to break it. We have the case of local amateur riders being reprimanded for wearing their Irish National Championship jerseys in races out side of the discipline in which they won their title. It should be one rule for all….no exceptions.

  6. Irish Peloton - November 20, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    @Simmi – Good point about the Revolution series not being recognised by the UCI. I’m not 100% sure what the rules are in this case. I’ve contacted the organisers to ask them about this.

    @Tommy – Has that happened recently that you know of, with an Irish national champion’s jersey? And what, if any, were the consequences?

  7. Cormac - November 20, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

    Just a point to consider. Perhaps the non conformity is not intentional. If you look at the construction of Cav’s jersey, the underarms of the jersey seem to be made with a different material from the rest of the garment (as is the case with many modern jerseys). The white section of the underarms seem to be constructed from perforated fabric which are perhaps more difficult to dye, colour or print on…

  8. wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    Or maybe your just deciding to be pedantic all of a sudden?
    Seriously, the entire issue of what your jersey says and how comms treat it has always been a rule that wears thin.
    As for the WC bands, UCI and those pedantic enought to impose these brands restrictions, need to get a life. No WC has ever killed, misled or defrauded anyone. And it doesnt give anyone the right to wear what they want…its a WC jersey, only a WC can wear them and thats about all that should be imposed.
    If it wasnt for brand sponsors we wouldnt have a professional sport so whatever they require, within reason, should come first. UCI does see itself as a commercial brand, but it doesnt pay wages or team costs and wouldnt have anything to brand if it wasnt for team sponsors.

    I will admit that I thought it was strange to see him in the hoops at a track event as he isnt a track WC.
    As far as I know, this is due to it being a non UCI event.
    In any case, its promotion of the sport in the uk that was the aim, we should all support that.

  9. Irish Peloton - November 21, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    To be fair, it’s the UCI rules that are pedantic, not me. I’m just drawing attention to them.

    Generally, I agree with your sentiment that Cavendish was merely promoting cycling in the U.K. and wearing one of the most iconic jerseys in the sport was a fantastic way to do that.

    It does indeed appear to be the case that this was a non-UCI event. The organisers contacted me and said that riders can wear what they want. This may be true in general, but the rainbow bands remains a registered trademark of the UCI. As far as I know, Cavendish/Revolution would have needed to seek the UCI’s permission for him to wear it a non-UCI event. I’ve contacted the UCI regarding this and I’m waiting to hear back.

    This isn’t about me being pedantic over some petty jersey rules. This is about the UCI adhering to their own rules. Cavendish is either breaking a rule or he’s not. If he’s breaking a rule, why isn’t he being penalised?

    It might be a rather pointless rule that should be overlooked, but then why is it in the rules? Where do you draw the line between rules that can be ignored and rules that are applied? How do we know what the UCI are willing to turn a blind eye to? That’s really what this is about. The UCI and their continuous inconsistenceis.

    As for a World Champion who has never misled or defrauded anyone? David Millar, Igor Astarloa, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Camenzind, Johan Museeuw, Laurent Brochard, Jan Ullrich…

  10. wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    Ok, so you are being pedantic then?

    “No WC has ever killed, misled or defrauded anyone….in the wearing of the WC bands as per the discussion”

    We all know the rules and that they are not abided to all the time without a rule book to give reason but using common sense and fairplay.

    The decent Commissaires are the ones who know this. They also know they have to show some action rather than nothing which is why f an offence is openingly committed, they usually penalise by fines rather than exclusion.
    How many top riders would never finish a race/tour if the rules where applied for sticky bottles, the odd uphill push from a bystander, the odd bottle of water inside the finishing zone etc etc

    To many exist to name but we all know when they need to be applied for fairness rather than just doing it ‘cuz the book says so’.

    Its a fair discussion and fair to bring up. I cant argue with the ligimate use of this event for journalism. It should, however, be discussing openly, the amount of times a rule is stated and overseen in the interest of fairness and goos sporting behaviour.

    The winner, in the end, is cycling.

    Had the winner been someones ego or a sponsor, regardless of how much a sport values them, then fair enough we need to change it. But I think our sponsors value the sport as much as our riders with the few exceptions of characters like LA and even Cippo in his day. But then we wouldnt have been without them either (drugs allegations aside).

    If I turn up at a U12 race and some kid is wearing a branded jersey for his first race, i will not be the one imposing the rules for the wearing of a non-standard club jersey. I will have a chat with his parents about why the rule exists but its costly enough to get started without the UCI adding to it.

  11. wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    Oh, and theres is one good thing about “The UCI and their continuous inconsistenceis”…

    At least their consistently inconsistent! lol

  12. wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    Cormac mentioned the build/design of the jersey as a possible reasoning for the broken bands…

    I thought this too, but didnt the old team jersey have a branded name vertically printed on this area?
    I almost assumed he was leaving it for his name as per the new Sky jersey he will be wearing, the bands could be deemed to interfere with the sponsors name on a HTC jersey but not a Sky one.

    It will be interesting to see what design does take place in 2012.

    However, while we are on the subject of UCI rules (or me as it is now ;-})

    What about the stupid rule of ‘White Shorts Only’ for WC bands.
    How stupid is that. I know Cav wanted traditional black shorts with bands but wasnt allowed as its white only, so he does follow the rules to a certain extent. But have you seen some of the scenes caused by the wearing of white shorts?
    How can the UCI say your not allowed to expose yourself for a pee in a public area but its okay to wear near translucent material showing more than you want to see especially when an image of a stage winner means you will see more than normal due to the upright position of an air punch…and it may be used in national press too.

  13. Irish Peloton - November 21, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    Not sure where you’re getting the rule of White Shorts Only.

    This is not a rule, it is up to the World Champion which colour shorts he wears. Indeed in the only road race Cavendish competed in for HTC since winning in Copenhagen, he decided to wear black shorts.

    It’s interesting that you mentioned Lance Armstrong and Mario Cipollini as these two riders have both been the subject of the UCI ignoring their own rules when it came to number of days being part of the wherabouts system before their respective comebacks.

    Neither of them had been registered with the whereabouts system for enough days before their comebacks but the UCI let them race anyway. Is this a rule which should be at the commisaires discretion in the interest of common sense? Which rules should be absolutely enforced? And which should be discretionary?

  14. Wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    Actually, I completely missed the fact he has stripes on his black shorts. Here a quote form the man himself not long after winning the worlds.

    So black shorts with World Champ stripes is illegal. I can only use white ones with the stripes. ABSOLUTE NO! I will use my team shorts.
    13 Oct

    And then as your pic shows, he has stripes on his team shorts. So I take that back, he is blatantly flaunting the rules.

    However, your bringing a much bigger issue in on comparison to this. Your discussion was with regards to a WC breaking the rules with how he wore the WC bands.

    So when did doing so become cheating?

    As for which rules should be discretionary, when does a race commissaire make decisions on who gets a licence or not. Eligibility for attended race through existing licence details yes, ie cat2 racing cat3 race etc. but the federation is who decides who gets a licence and why and also who is banned from a licence or not. Neither would be in relation to a misdemeanor like what jersey you wear or what it looks like. Don’t discredit your own discussion by bringing in irrelevant points, as creditable as they are on their own.

    The point i made about bending the rules where its in the interest of fair play would never include a situation where someone cheats so blatantly. Common sense prevails and is applied along with the penalties, unless you want bans for incorrect jerseys?

    Totally valid point about the jersey and shorts, well outside the rules even if not exactly more than a misdemeanor. Are the UCI turning a blind eye til the new year maybe? Or totally?

    Hopefully they are as it’s a redundant rule and should be removed. By imposing them they are putting commercial rules into the sporting rules and that’s not acceptable. The sport must come first. For clarity I do agree we can’t have every WC wearing whatever WC gear in whatever event but how does it matter if its a solid band, black shorts or a logo breaks it up a bit. It’s a band and you aren’t going to want to hide it once you’ve earned it, despite the usual superstition.

  15. Irish Peloton - November 21, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

    Your discussion was with regards to a WC breaking the rules with how he wore the WC bands.
    So when did doing so become cheating?

    It’s not cheating as such, but it is against the rules, as detailed in the original article.

    As for your points about commisaires, you’re becoming increasingly confusing. I didn’t bring up these ‘irrelevant points’, you did.


    By imposing them they are putting commercial rules into the sporting rules and that’s not acceptable. The sport must come first.

    Again, I find your point confusing and somewhat contradictory. You said yourself “If it wasnt for brand sponsors we wouldnt have a professional sport”.

    As for bringing in a bigger issue about UCI rules. This small discrepancy on Cavendish’s part IS part of the bigger issue. You suggest bending rules should be allowed in the interest of fair play but not where someone blatantly cheats. My over-arcing point is, where do the UCI draw the line? When does a minor misdemeanor become ‘blatantly cheating’? Do they have a number of rules which they are willing to turn a blind eye to? Do they have certain rules which they plan on enforcing but don’t care about the rest?

    I don’t expect answers to these questions. I’m merely pointing out the pointlessness of having a set of rules if you pick and choose which ones to enforce and which ones to ignore.

  16. Wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    “As for your points about commisaires, you’re becoming increasingly confusing. I didn’t bring up these ‘irrelevant points’, you did.”
    This was in regard to the issues you introduced about drugs cheating and licences which i feel is relevant in the topic raised.

    “Again, I find your point confusing and somewhat contradictory. You said yourself “If it wasnt for brand sponsors we wouldnt have a professional sport”.”
    Again, this was mentioned in relation to the UCI imposing rules as part of a commercial right over a brand being the UCI, clash of interest and not fair play, these rules don’t govern sport they serve only commercial ideals.

    “When does a minor misdemeanor become ‘blatantly cheating’? ”
    Simple, does someone gain an advantage over another competitor from doing so?
    Obviously not in the case of a few broken bands.
    Obviously they do in the case of not being on the whereabouts register prior to being reissued a licence as you pointed out. This is based on the suspicion of guilt before charge but can have a fall back clause by future testing proving innocence if regularly tested regardless of results, if done at a high level, in my opinion.

    I understand the frustrations about the rules if you don’t understand the reasoning behind them. This issue with a nonstandard jersey of a federations own commercial branding is a little weak in argument against through. If anything, it’s an argument to remove the rule to a large degree. In essence, the standardised jersey rule is to make judging easier and more accurate so no one can gain advantage through lack of identification or confusion caused by. That’s where you get 2 volunteers standing at the side of the road watching a 10long by 10 deep pack race for the line in a sprint. However if feel that in the likes of commercial based teams, it’s other interest to stay standardised anyway so any small differences can be accomodated. The clash with a WC jersey over the commercial teams jersey should see the teams design take priority as long as the WC bands can be identified clearly including a white background. Suits both cases well.

    As far as the drugs rules are applied, well, much bigger can of worms. How’s your argument for the BOA keeping their own total ban Vs WADA wanting a consistent rule and the BOA removing of the ban?

  17. Irish Peloton - November 21, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    Now you really have me confused…

    Don’t discredit your own discussion by bringing in irrelevant points

    This was in regard to the issues you introduced about drugs cheating and licences which i feel is relevant in the topic raised.

    Irrelevant or relevant?

  18. Wataboutya - November 21, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

    Lol, yea now my spell checks confused.


  19. Nick - November 22, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

    Good article and interesting discussion. Anyone know if Cav is allowed to wear the bands at the Olympics? Or will it have to be a GB jersey?

  20. Irish Peloton - November 22, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    Thanks Nick.

    He’ll be wearing a GB jersey.

    Here’s reigning World Champion (and reigning Olympic Champion!) Paolo Bettini at the 2008 Olympic Games.

    He wore the same as all his team-mates

  21. John E Dunn - November 25, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    The fact that Cavendish is clearly not aware of the fine print of the jersey design rules is surely the UCI’s fault. These large bodies seem to be fixated on precision but then appear not to make much effort to communicate that to the riders, teams or fans.

    If the UCI wants to be bureaucratic – and there is an argument for it of course – then at least be efficient about it.

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