The Jersey Project is written by American Bill Humphreys and is a adaptation of a Dutch book called “Koerstrui!” (Racing Jerseys!). It was originally written by Henk Theuns who has accumulated one of the the worlds largest jersey collections. Unless Bill brought this book to the English speaking world it would have remained hidden from many of us forever.
The book is a time capsule which goes through the history of the cycling jersey. I can’t recall another book that tells so much of the story of cycling. The collection is not necessarily representative of significant moments in cycling nor is there much of an order to the various chapters, but it’s a pleasure to flip through which has brought me back to the computer to find out more. There’s always more to learn about this sport and a book like this makes me realize how little I know.
To me, cycling jerseys are the defining emblem of our sport. Nothing reveals more about the various eras in cycling and the artefacts in this book brings back memories of the great races and champions. The sport is a vehicle for advertising and promotion where sponsors come and go, and so do the jerseys from season to season. Flipping through the pages of this book of jerseys is like looking at the headlines from old newspapers.
It’s interesting to reflect on some of the sponsors who have stayed with the sport and those who have moved on. The Rabobank jersey has remained largely unchanged and identifiable since the mid-90′s. It will be a shame to see the iconic Skil Shimano jersey transform into Project 1t4i. It’s been one of my favorites. Lotto has been the longest running sponsors of cycling (since 1985) and their jersey has changed dramatically from one year to the next. They’ll be changing into Lotto-Belisol in 2012 and their logo is the only thing that remains. One of my all time favorite jerseys is also one of the most hideous of them all; Mapei-Quickstep of the 1990′s. The design epitomises the gaudiness of the era alongside some of the toughest and hardest athletes who ever dominated a sport. Whenever I see the kit it brings back memories of the excitement of watching some of the most gruelling Classics in cycling history.
It will be fascinating to see the book’s edition 20 years from now and study the design elements that have come and gone. Over the past few years we’ve been seeing a resurgence towards the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s minimalistic features and it’ll be interesting to see the elements from todays jerseys (Saxo, HTC, BMC, Liquigas, Lampre) and how they inspire future designs.
To me right now, the biggest question of them all is what will the GreenEDGE jersey look like?
This collection of over 1200 jerseys could only have been assembled by a man obsessed by a purpose and this book is a must-have for any enthusiast of the sport. It comes in hardcover with nearly 200 glossy pages of cycling goodness in-between. You can find The Jersey Project for sale on Bill Humphrey’s website. I bought mine from Northside Wheelers, but I snagged the last one.