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A study by the British medical journal BMC has looked into the question of the curse of the rainbow jersey

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PETER SAGAN

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18.12.2015 @ 10:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Every year the British medical journal BMJ try to celebrate Christmas by doing some scientific studies on interesting issues. In the most recent issue, it discusses "the curse of the rainbow jersey". And the research shows encouraging news for world champion Peter Sagan.

 

"The curse of the rainbow jersey" is one of the biggest clichés in cycling: in the season following his triumph, the newly crowned world champion is plagued by lots of bad luck. The result is a disappointing season in the world champion's jersey.

 

But does it really make sense to talk about a curse? In its Christmas issue, the British BMJ journal publishes the results of a study made by Thomas Perneger who has looked into all the results of the world champions between 1965 and 2013 during the year of his World Championships gold and the following two seasons.

 

These figures show that a world champion wins fewer races in the seasons after his Worlds triumph. The researcher gives three main explanations for this phenomenon.

 

First and foremost more attention is given to the world champion so every "defeat" is magnified.

 

The rainbow jersey of the world champion is also a lot more visible and therefore he will be marked quicklier. Finally, a world champion usually returns to his normal level after an exceptional year with a Worlds triumph.

 

The latter factor is decisive. A world champion will win less races in his rainbow jersey ("Year 1") than in the previous year ("year 0"), but one year later ("year 2") the effect has disappeared although he no longer wears the rainbow jersey.

 

These findings were confirmed by another study which examines results of the winners of the Tour of Lombardy. This race is held immediately after the Worlds and the figures yielded the same conclusions as in the Worlds study.

 

In other words, a world champion will actually win less in his white jersey, but that has nothing to do with a curse. He simply returns to his normal level after a very successful year. In a few weeks, Peter Sagan gets a the chance to prove whether the results are correct or not.

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