Does the future of US racing include jerseys with rider names and numbers?

So, I know that the article is behind a paywall but I’ve been saying for a long time that the biggest races in the World (Tour, Giro, Vuelta, World’s etc) need to have it where the riders have a large number and their last name on their backs. I get tired of the commentators, and myself many times, having no idea who is where and doing what. Large numbers (as seen in the caption photo), would help alleviate this. Keep the sponsor information on the front of the jersey for the posts up, obvs.

It could potentially sell more jerseys and help reduce the stigma of wearing a pros jersey if their winning number from the Tour, from the previous year, was on it.


I was at that race, and really appreciated having the names on the backs, and missed having it on the pro womens’ jerseys. I knew there were a number of big names there, but had no good idea of what they looked like, so even if I saw them without helmet/glasses on, I had no good way of knowing who they were.
I would love to see something like this catch on at the higher levels of racing.


Maybe but domestic crit racing has less significance than a minor league baseball affiliate, only anoraks and the devoted minority care about US domestic race scene. The future of US racing coming back to what it was is dependent on two things. One a charismatic, gregarious, and good looking American GC racer who can win multiple Tours confidently and two; cycling clubs.

When I got into racing everyone raced in club kits and on clubs, your shop teams where typically cat 2 and above or rich guys who bought a lot of bikes and had their ego polished. The races where largely put on by clubs; clubs who had a good portion of members that weren’t racers which means not only could they put on a race with only a goal to break even but their operating costs where lower and they had tons of volunteers to support the race and political capital to get things to happen at the local level. So there were more races and they were actually affordable to do. On top of that the club could funnel non-racers into racing.

Nowadays no one cares about racing in the US because there is very little road racing, every race is hard to get to fewer clubs so you have to figure everything out yourself or via dubious forum advice or youtube, expensive, and you race so little you never get used to it as a cat 4/5 and start to get past the nerves.

There are crits but there are ohh so many people that are going to take crashes with that frequency plus going to a community college parking lot to race in a featureless loop gets boring if you’re not a power/sprinter rider type.

edit:sorry, it appears I missed the point. Answer to the original question is likely yes but it doesn’t really matter.

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It might work. It might not.

The World Tour already has 4 teams named after places. I’m sure cycling fans from those places follow their progress very closely, but without many riders actually from there on board (though tbf, Vino always makes sure there are plenty of Kazakhs represented) it’s hard to see what benefit the sponsoring nation (or non-nation-affiliated foundation) gets out of it.

I would go a step further. Teams have to assign a number to each of their riders and the rider uses that number for the whole year.
In stage races, the team-number is set before the rider number.

E.g. 1-7 indicating team# 1 and rider# 7 of that team.

Of course with team and rider names too.

In a word, sportswashing.

I like this idea. As long as the UCI/Teams could make sure their respective kit colors aren’t super close in colors I think this could work.

That won’t cut it IMHO. Sponsorship money in cycling buys TV brand exposure (or sportswashing indeed) at a rate nothing can compete. Hence the “TV breakaway”.
Front of the jersey is basically invisible on TV (except for the winner on the line). The back is very visible on helicopter shots, quite visible from motos and fixed cameras → so is an important part of real-estate on the “rider-viewability” map (sorry for the ugly neologism).
That is why in the last decade the cost of thighs and lower back has risen: they are the most visible parts of a rider in an aero position, esp. in said “TV breakaway”.

TL;DR: sponsors don’t care if comentators and viewers struggle to identify their Philipsen from their Merlier, they want their logos and names displayed on TV, big and big time.


Spot-on analysis…sacrificing the back of the jersey to a name and a number is not going to go over well with sponsors.

Personally, I always advocated getting the back of the bibs as a key location for sponsors.

I disagree @Raphael @Henri_Desgrange . You can barely see the small font of even “Team Ineos” on the back from a helicopter shot. However, a giant number will easily be seen, the commentators will see it, call out the rider’s name and team on the television, and the team name will be on the television graphics. All much better coverage for the sponsor than a tiny corporate name on the back of a jersey from a helicopter shot.

I agree that back of bibs, side panels of jersey/bibs, is still prime real estate for sponsors for the breakaway of the day. And of course, the front for the post ups, cheering and other things that go on post finish, or even at the start line.

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I remember the information on the cost of different locations from a great Velochrono article (long disappeared as Velochrono itself unfortunately).
Basically it said that back of the bibs and thighs were long under-valued compared to torso.


Just because Ineos doesn’t execute the idea well doesn’t mean that sponsors are going to gladly sacrifice that real estate.

A bunch of teams execute well on the concept…look at AG2R as one example.

I can definitely see both working together. The number (and name) doesn’t have to cover the whole back. It works in so many other sports, I’m sure designers could work out a number, name and sponsor grafics.

sponsors don’t care if comentators and viewers struggle to identify their Philipsen from their Merlier
I’m sure though that they do care if they can sell 10% more jerseys due to fans getting their “Philipsen-jersey” (as opposed to “a Quickstep jersey”) and those jerseys riding millions of miles on roads around the world.

What evidence is there that consumers will buy more team jerseys if they have riders’ names on the back?

I’d buy more jerseys.

I like some pro jerseys but the hate for plebs wearing jerseys is weird to me as I grew up playing hockey. If there was a name or number it would be clear I’m not Gilbert or whomever (though that should be pretty obvious anyways).

I also like the idea of buying a jersey of a rider who had a hot year. The first year I really got into watching cycling was the year Gilbert smashed the ardennes then won the opening stage of the tour. It was that sick Omega Pharma Lotto kit. I think if he had his name or number across the back it would be clear why I bought the jersey, who I was supporting, and, finally, that I am not a pro.

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I’m curious how many people in different parts of the world purchase pro team jerseys. In the US, I virtually never see people cycling in pro team kit … even during the heyday/frenzy of US Postal here in Austin (TX), I would rarely encounter riders in their kit. And I honestly wouldn’t even know where to get team jerseys/kit if I were so inclined. Also, with respect to hockey, basketball, basketball, or football/soccer team attire, the fit and style/fit of their branded jersey/shirts is much more suitable for casual wear … wearing a super form fitting jersey to a bar, watch party, or side of the road to cheer on your favorite team may not be something many care to do.

It is far more acceptable in Europe to wear team kit than it is here in the US…it is very much the same to them as wearing football (soccer) jerseys…a show of support for their teams.

As you have experienced, it is not as common here in the US…some of which is because of the attitude that can be pervasive in the sport. I personally won’t wear a team kit, but I also came up through the sport when it was viewd as being a “fred” or a “poser” and I’ll admit to not being able to shake that feeling.

That said, I also don’t judge those who do…which I probably did much earlier in my riding. Ride what you want, it doesn’t affect me, so if it makes you happy and gets you out on the bike, go for it.

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I agree. If a purchased pro jersey had the pro riders name and number on the back for the year they were on fire then it would be a lot more acceptable to wear a team jersey, especially in the US.

Thanks for the information @Henri_Desgrange. I also don’t judge others on what they wear on the bike (we are all fringe weirdos to the general public so no need be divisive among ourselves) but likewise recall the derisive label “jersey pros” thrown about on late 80’s pre-WWW forums (Usenet for you kids out there). I wouldn’t wear team kit simply because I’m not keen to provide free advertisement to commercial enterprises just as I don’t purchase non-team kit with egregiously large branding/logos.

When I visited Belgium, the Lotto lottery stores had team Lotto kit for sale, and even a little changing room/curtain area to try it on. Buying and wearing that kit would seem to be pretty normal based on that - I’m assuming that they sell it because people buy it, and people buy it to wear it.

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