What's better than cycling team jerseys?
Jerseys - I would argue even more so than bikes - are the defining emblem of our sport. Part billboard, part primary visual rider-recognition device, part clothing, part style icon - the jerseys is the 'kit' element that tends to leave an indelible impressions on your brain. Jersey designs define eras, providing visceral recall of great races, champions and moments. They're our flags, our heraldry.
Here's a must-have book to add to your collection. Dutch collector Henk Theuns has accumulated what may arguably be the worlds best jersey collection, and has assembled them into this great paperback book, called Koerstrui! (Racing Jerseys!)
As a true mailliot-phile from way-back, I just bought a copy. A fantastic book. Highly recommended. It's like a one of those color birding field guide, only this one is a guide to cycling history. Laid out in sections (Track races, Dutch classics, Belgians classics, Grand Tours, National championships, World championships) the book isn't complete, nor is it organized by chronology. Small matter, it nonetheless provides a great showcase of the diversity represented by jersey design.
You can buy the Dutch language version from Europe direct here.
But if a little Dutch reading puts you off. There's better news, because there's going to be a version for the US market very soon thanks to 'Bike Guy': Connecticut's Bill Humphries. Bill's a former national team member, and one of the original Raleigh Boys from the seventies. Thanks to his old friendship with ex-Eddy Merckx' team mate, Dutch ex-professional Rini Wagtmans (whose jerseys are featured in the book), Bike Guy has secured the rights to publish and distribute a US version of Koerstrui, which will include a chapter of great historic US jerseys. Publishing is planned for later in 2011.
I know Bill is currently tapping US friends to build out that supplement to ensure a great representation of the history of US cycling. If you've got a jersey of historic interest here in the US, and think it is fit to be in the book, Bill would love to hear from you. You can contact Bill on his website.