Mountain Biking Australia says that it and Cycling Australia have found a compromise in the design of the Australian National Championship jersey that should ease the worries from sponsors that caused some riders to ride soft in the National Championship race to avoid winning the jersey.
From last year's Aussie Downhill National Championship race report:
...some Elite riders purposely (held) back so as not to win the supposedly coveted national jersey. Given the strict UCI regulations which dictate the size of sponsor logos on a national champion's jersey, some of the major companies gave their riders orders not to win. The rules stipulate that a national champion must wear his/her champion's jersey in World Cup qualifying and finals and for this reason, sponsors stepped in to ensure their freedom to advertise on their star riders wasn't compromised.
In between qualifying and finals the pits were abuzz with rule books, phone calls to team headquarters and tough decisions being made by the riders. One rider who was very outspoken on the issue was the rider who clocked the fastest time of the day (in qualifying), Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz-Utopia-Troy Lee-Red Bull).
"I have orders from a number of my sponsors that look after me quite well who need area on my jersey to promote their product. If I tried to win today then I couldn't have been loyal to them whatsoever - it's a catch-22 which sucks. The UCI are being very stubborn with the rule and something needs to change - there are so many options but they are not willing to negotiate."
"If the rule stays the same as it is now... I am never going to be national champ. I've got a world championship and a world cup overall under my belt... but not this one."
Mick Hannah won the men's Elite Downhill event later that same day. Read the entire 2005 National Championship race report here.
MTBA says a UCI rule that forced the crowned National Champion to wear the current jersey design at all UCI downhill competition sparked the protest. "This rule had always been in place," said MTBA spokesperson Tony Scott in a release to the media, "but had only just begun to be enforced by the UCI in the last two years." In an effort to find a compromise that will allow athletes with concerned sponsors to compete seriously for the national championship jersey, MTBA and CA are proposing a modified jersey design.
"The Cycling Australia Board of Management has resolved that for mountain bike disciplines – cross country, downhill, mountain cross – the Australian Champion will be recognised by one yellow band bordered by two green bands each 4cm wide around both upper sleeves. There will be no other national champions jersey awarded. The green and yellow bands are to be placed on the jersey worn by the athlete in all UCI calendar events."
The design, which Cycling Australia says will remain policy for Australian mountain bike champions until further notice, should not be confused with the thin green and yellow piping worn on collars and cuffs by ‘former’ Australian champions.