That was the question that I was asked to answer by Cycling Active Magazine. Here is my answer!
I like to look good on the bike, as good as the next person. My own personal style - if you can call it that - stems from starting cycling in the late 1980's when it was cool to look as "euro" as possible, which included trying assemble some tasteful pro team kit for your training rides when not racing in club kit. It sounds an odd thing to say now when so much kit is so widely available, but back then getting hold of a pair of matching track mitts was considered something of an achievement!
I work for Prendas Ciclismo that celebrates it's 20th anniversary this year and the attitude of customers towards team replica clothing has changed dramatically during our history. Even 10 years ago, the sales of team replica would outstrip anything else we had available to buy. Now customers do not wish to buy team replica national/world champion jerseys in such quantities.
Cycling offers a great deal of history to new comers of our great sport, so I can see the appeal of "the rules" for people new to our sport who want to fit in and not make a fool of themselves. However, many people take these rules far too seriously, which surely must have started off life as a tongue-in-cheek joke?
Rule number 16 is what we are debating, Respect the jersey. Championship (and race leader) jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship. Now I've never won a World Championships. My brother has. My sister-in-law has. The closest I have ever come to a world championship jersey is when I helped Santini and team sponsors through the process of getting Dame Sarah a kit designed for the 2011 season after she won the Paracycling World Championships.
I did end up with a jersey in my size, which I admit I don't wear that often. That's more a reflection on the number of jerseys I own rather than my opinion on whether or not I feel I should wear it, but it's a nice memento from the 2011 season. My 10yr old son now rides his MTB at the weekends with Sarah's XXS kit from 2011 too.
I also find it hard to balance why buying a £12,000 team replica bike is okay, but wearing a £60 jersey is not. There's a fair bit of snobbery and elitism in our sport now which I do not care for. I personally think many have lost sight of the objective here and that is "bums on seats". It brings a smile to my face whenever I see my local "Bradley Wiggins" on his Dogma in his GB Champion Sky kit - he's a guy that is new to the sport, is keen, enthusiastic and out riding his bike and that is all that matters.