First look: cycling jerseys combine function with a symbolic power

Chris Sidwells' new book traces the importance of the jersey, touching on design, technology and historical significance

For cyclists and cycling fans alike, the jersey has come to attain symbolic value. As the largest and most visually-distinctive item of clothing worn by racing cyclists, it has become the easiest method of identification. Whether a cyclist triumphs or falters, the jersey becomes a visual synecdoche for their achievement.

A new book from Thames & Hudson, Cycling Jerseys, provides both a history and a primer of the jersey. Organised chronologically, it uses archive photography and specially-shot images to explain the most significant tops. Some were worn by great riders, others by race leaders. There are jerseys chosen, too, for their striking design or innovative technology.

Written by cycling journalist and photographer Chris Sidwells – author of A Race for Madmen: The History of the Tour de FranceCycling Jerseys should provide a scrupulously informed survey of its topic, not least because of Sidwells' own jersey collectomania. The television news anchor Matt Barbet, also a keen cyclist, has written a foreword.