The Development of the Iconic Brooklyn Jersey

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1973 RDV & Merckx Omloop Het Volk 1973?

Regular readers will know I have a bike built around a real 1973 Brooklyn Team frame ridden by Julien Stevens. It’s the bike I rode at Eroica California last year and at the Paris-Roubaix Challenge this past April. Regular readers also will know I like to match my kit to the bike.

Matching my kit to my Stevens bike has been easy and difficult at the same time. Replica wool vintage jerseys are a dime a dozen. There are loads of modern reproductions, as well as a fair number of vintage replicas available. I generally ride in my favorite Tiralento Brooklyn jersey or one of my Magliamo versions—I have short and long sleeve jerseys of the latter—with a pair or Tiralento shorts. The jerseys are the well-known “standard” version, however, not what I have been calling the 1973 jersey. For Paris-Roubaix, I wore a replica of the 1973 jersey that I helped 2Velo develop over the past six or so months.

I have been aware of two 1973 jerseys. One that I call Version 1 seems to have been used only during the pre-season and for promotional photos of the riders and team. Version 2 can be seen in various video clips and photo of Roger De Vlaeminck and his team mates in 1973 during the Spring Classics.

It has been difficult finding photos of the Brooklyn Team racing in 1973, but I have slowly put together a nice collection. One problem, however, with researching stuff like this over the internet is that many photos are unlabeled or mislabeled with the wrong race name or date. Because all the photos I have are confirmed as being from 1973, I always assumed the team used the jersey only that year and throughout the entirety of the season.

I noticed last year while watching Stars and Water Carriers, however, that the Brooklyn jerseys worn during the race were neither Version 1 or 2, but Version 3, the “standard” version. But somehow, it didn’t click with me that they didn’t fit my timeline. If you don’t know, Stars and Water Carriers is the Jørgen Leth documentary looking at the 1973 Giro d’Italia. I highly  recommend you watch it.

Recently, as I sometimes do at night when television sucks, I was watching old clips of races on YouTube. In one, I noticed De Vlaeminck was wearing the later jersey at the 1973 Giro. That’s when it finally clicked. If the video and Leth’s film were shot in 1973 and the boys were wearing the later jerseys, I had my facts wrong. It was time for me to put together a visual timeline and confirm things.

1973 RDV & ? Spring
Roger De Vlaeminck and Attilio Rota in Version 2 of the Brooklyn jersey during an unidentified race in the spring of 1973, perhaps in Italy or France. A hint may come from the Minerva Radio banner in the background, but the Belgian radio station only came into being in 1982, almost a decade after this photo was taken.

I started with what I already knew, or thought I knew—that there were two jerseys early in 1973 with the famous version appearing at the Giro. Many of the photos I had of De Vlaeminck and his teammates (very few of the latter), were unlabeled or mislabeled. I was going to have to rectify this problem first and figure out which were shot when. It took some effort, but within 48 hours I had things mostly figured out. I ran various searches for all the races that year. Along the way, I found a few new pics I hadn’t seen before, some of them from later in the season, also showing Version 3 of jersey.

It was pretty clear in my new timeline that Version 1, the pre-season/promotional photo jersey, was indeed just that. Initially I never saw any race photos of Version 1, but after reading this, Jasper De Deyne (owner of another Gilardi Frame), sent me the undated photo below of Patrick Sercu racing in the Version 1 jersey. The photo is undated and from an unidentified race. It could be from an early-season race, or it could be from one of the post-Tour de France critériums in Belgium, as revealed in the photo at the end of the story. Based on the fact that Sercu’s bike has brazed-on cable guides, a feature that Gios added to frames later in the season, I am betting on the latter. 

Sercu in First Brooklyn Jersey

The Version 2 jersey shows up as early as March 2 at Sassari-Cagliari and March 3 at Omloop-Het Volk. It’s the same jersey worn through Paris-Roubaix on April 15. I also found two photos likely from the Spring Classics time period without dates or references to races. Then, Version 3, the standard well-known design, shows up at the Giro.

Version 1

Version 1 features a blue diamond shape that looks as if it were draped over the neck with corners on the centerlines of each sleeve, bisecting the front and rear of the jersey and corners on the centerlines of the front and back. The corner on the front is positioned about halfway between the base of the sternum and the naval. The corner on the back is presumable slightly lower, overlapping the pockets by about 3 inches (7.6cm) as in Version 2. It has the familiar red and white vertical stripes around the torso, but these are thinner and more numerous than the well-known Version 3 with a red stripe centered on the point of the blue panel. A large gap is left between the outer-most red stripes on the front and back creates a white side panel where a blue Brooklyn logo is placed. This may have been the first cycling jersey to feature logos on the side panels.

On the front is a downward curved, white Brooklyn Chewing Gum logo across the chest and a red Brooklyn bridge logo stroked in white just left of center and above the Brooklyn logo. White Brooklyn logos also run across the shoulders and down the sleeves. The longer-than-usual short sleeves end with more red and white stripes. There is no cuff at the base of the sleeves. I have yet to see any photos that show the back of the jersey.

Stevens Pre Season 1973
Julien Stevens in Version 1 of the Brooklyn jersey early in 1973.
Brooklyn_cycling_team_1973
Version 1 of the Brooklyn jersey appears to have been used only pre-season and for a variety of promotional photos.
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This 1970s, reproduction, fan jersey recently appeared on eBay. It is a hybrid of the Version 1 and 2 jerseys minus several important graphic features.

Version 2

Version 2 is very similar to Version 1, but graphically simpler. The Brooklyn side panel logos are gone and the chest logo is revised. The front still has the downward curved Brooklyn logo in white, serif letters. The phrase Chewing Gum is smaller and printed on a white panel with the red bridge logo. The back is the same as the front, with the exception that the logos and corner are placed slightly lower down on the jersey. De Valeminck’s has the world champion’s stripes on the collar. The other team riders’ jerseys have solid blue collars. 

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The front of Roger De Vlaeminck’s Milano-San Remo winning jersey is an excellent example of Version 2…
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…as is the rear of the jersey.
Sercu Sassari-Cagliari 02:03:1973
This may be the earliest photo of the Version 2 jersey in action. Patrick Sercu wins the Sassari-Cagliari race March 2, 1973.

There also are photos of two long sleeve examples of Version 2. Both lack the red and white sleeve stripes. One is without the Brooklyn shoulder logos.  

1972-73? RDV Cross Season
Roger De Vlaeminck in a long sleeve example of Version 2.
RDV Pre Season 1973 3
This long sleeve example of Version 2 has no shoulder logos.

 

Version 3 (The Standard)

The first image I found of Version 3, or the Standard Brooklyn jersey, was from Stage 2 at the Giro d’Italia, corroborating what I saw in the YouTube videos and in Stars and Water Carriers. It makes sense that Brooklyn, a team based in Italy, would introduce the new jersey at its home race that year.

The new jersey features fewer and wider vertical red and white stripes on the torso with center of the blue panel aligned between the centermost red and white stripes. The familiar black Brooklyn Chewing Gum logo on a white chevron-shaped field runs across the chest. A simple white bridge is positioned above the logo and to the left of center. The white side panel is gone. Curved Brooklyn logos on sleeves follows the lines of the wear’s shoulders. Red, white and blue stripes are on the cuffs and collar. De Valeminck’s and Sercu’s collars and cuffs feature the world champion stripes.

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Roger De Vlaeminck won Stage 2 at the 1973 Giro d’Italia in the new Brooklyn jersey. Version 3 would be used until the team ceased to exist at the end of 1977. It’s one of the most iconic cycling jerseys in history.

I reached out to Aldo and Marco Gios to confirm some of my assumptions and to ask about a Brooklyn-Gios jersey and shorts kit seen in a number of famous photos of De Vlaeminck. The jersey is basically Version 3, but it has Gios across the top of the sleeves and Bici Gios Torino on the shorts instead of Brooklyn. Aldo Gios said the photos of De Vlaeminck was shot in early-1974 in Appiano Gentile (near Como) as promos. He said only two of the jerseys were made for the shoot. A week after hearing from the Gioses, I found a photo of Patrick Sercu from the same photoshoot. 

The Gioses also confirmed that Version 3 of the jersey was introduced in May at the Giro.

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Roger De Vlaeminck wore unique Brooklyn-Gios jersey and shorts for this promotional photoshoot in early 1974.  Only two of the jerseys were made, said Aldo Gios.
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The second Brooklyn/Gios jersey was likely this one worn by Patrick Sercu, also at the same photoshoot.
Brooklyn Gios Jersey
Not long after I published this article, Simon Langhard replied to my post on Facebook with this photo of what may be one of the surviving Gios-Brooklyn jerseys. He said it was posted on the Brooklyn Cycling Team Facebook page.

 

Mystery Jerseys

After I shared my finding with jersey connoisseur and author of the book The Cycling Jersey, Oliver Knight, he sent a link to an article that showed four jerseys from 1973. The article is on the French site Mémoire du Cyclisme and never came up in any of my searches. (I never used French words or phrases for my searches.)

The jersey may be the first redesign after Version 2. If it was, it was very short lived. Neither Knight nor I can find any photos of the jersey. It’s basically Version 3 with a hybrid version of the chest logos of Versions 2 and 3.

 

Brooklyn Jersey ???? 1973
I can find no photos of this mystery jersey, so I have no idea when or if it was used by the team. I know of only only one mention of it on the site Mémoire du Cyclisme.

While in Europe for the Paris-Roubaix Challenge,  I visited several public cycling museums and private bicycle collections in Belgium. One of my destinations was Leo’s Bike Collection, where De Vlaeminck’s Milan-San Remo jersey is housed. I was unsure I’d get to see it, but I was hopeful. As it turned out, not only did I see it, I was able to hold it and take detailed photos of it. While there, I also discovered two other mystery Brooklyn jerseys, as well as one of De Vlaeminck’s standard 1976 jerseys.

One of the mystery jerseys belonged to Julien Stevens, the Brooklyn rider who raced on my Gilardi-built Gios Torino frame. I was pumped to see one of this jerseys. I was even more pumped to see it was a 1973 jersey design I’d never seen before. The jersey is solid blue—there are no red and white stripes—with a black Brooklyn logo in a serif font on a white rectangular field. A large white Brooklyn bridge logo is embroidered above. Below are the words, “La Gomma Del Ponte,” a phase used on the packaging and in ads for the chewing gum. Roughly translated, it means, “the gum of the bridge.”

I didn’t ask to take the jersey out of its protective bag, which I now regret, so I am unsure of all it’s details. I was able to see that the collar and waist are cuffed in red, white and blue. I assume the arm cuffs are the same. Also unknown are if Brooklyn logos are on the shoulders or if there are graphics on the back. Several people have theorized that the jersey was used for training. Although I met Stevens on my trip, it was before I visited Leo’s Collection.

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Brooklyn Training Jersey 1973
This rendering is based on what I could see and some assumptions I made about the 1973,  Julien Stevens “training” jersey.
IMG_9232
The phrase “gomma del ponte” appeared in many Brooklyn Chewing Gum ads and on the packaging in Italy. Loosely translated, it means “the gum of the bridge.”

A second mystery jersey in Leo’s Collection, if correctly labeled, casts doubt on my 1973 jersey development timeline. Leo labeled the jersey “R De Vlamick 1974.” Based on the design, I have some doubts about Leo’s date. But I cannot say for sure when it would have been made and used, if it was used at all. My best guess, it was a predecessor to the Version 3 Standard Brooklyn jersey and would have been developed before the 1973 Giro d’Italia, Pperhaps around the same time as the Mémoire du Cyclisme jersey above.

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This mystery jersey may be a predecessor to the Version 3 (Standard) jersey. It features attributes of Julien Stevens’ 1973 training jersey and the Version 2 and 3 jerseys. It is labeled “R De Vlamick 74.” And while the rainbow stripes clearly indicate I belonged to Roger De Vlaeminck or Patrick Sercu, I have my doubts about the 1974 date.

 

Brooklyn???? Jersey 1974
This rendering is based on what I could see and some assumptions I made about the 1974 De Vlaeminck jersey.

Like the Mémoire du Cyclisme mystery jersey, it’s essentially a hybrid. In this case, a hybrid of the Stevens training jersey of 1973 (a Brooklyn logo with white rectangle across the chest), Version 2 (the Chewing Gum and red bridge graphic printed on a white fabric panel) and Version 3 (the thicker red and white stripes). As with the Stevens jersey above, I didn’t ask to take the jersey out of its protective bag, so I am unsure of all it’s details. Unknown are if there are Brooklyn logos on the shoulders or what graphics are on the back.

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This photo appeared in a book (Someone on FaceBook sent me, but didn’t name the book.). The jersey appears to be the same one I saw at Leo’s and shows logos on the sleeves. The book dates it as 1973.

I know of no photos of team members racing in this or the Mémoire du Cyclisme jerseys. If anyone has a photo of rides in one of them, please, send it to me.

Updated May 1, 2019: Ask and you shall receive. Not long after I published this article, Simon Langhard (again) replied to my post on Facebook with the photo below of Patrick Sercu, which, according to Langhard, appeared in the May 1973 issue of Mirror du Ciclisme. It’s pretty clear that is of the same design as the jersey in Leo’s Collection, if not the exact same jersey.  

Patrick Sercu in Mystery 1973 jersey

Much More to Learn

My timeline is based on what I know today and is sure to change as I uncover more more and/or better photographs and learn more about the evolution of the Team Brooklyn jerseys.

1973 Jersey Timeline
This visual timeline of the Brooklyn jersey in 1973 will likely change. But here’s what I have.

My next goal is to figure out when and, if possible, why, Vittore Gianni supplied the team with shorts with the Brooklyn logo misspelled as Brooklin. I know of several photos from 1973 of riders in the shorts and had always assumed the photos of the riders wearing Brooklin shorts with the Version 3 jersey were from 1974 or later. That has now changed and I’m fairly confident the Brooklin shorts were a 1973 mistake.

Another photo I have questions about shows many of the stars of the peloton grouped together with several “fans” at an unidentified event. It curiously shows Patrick Sercu dressed in Version 1 (the promotional jersey) with Brooklin shorts and Roger De Vlaeminck (although he’s partially obscured) wearing what appears to be the famous Version 3 jersey, but it appears to be without the red and white stripes. Maybe De Vlaeminck is wearing a team sweater or some other training jersey. It’s not a tracksuit top because those resembled the Version 2 jerseys through 1977.  Based on the two Brooklyn kits, the Shimano-Flandria jerseys and Frans Verbeeck in the Belgian National Champion’s jersey, it’s pretty clear the photo was shot in 1973.

1973 Pre Season? Sercu & others
This is a weird one…This photo shows Patrick Sercu in Version 1 of the jersey with Brooklin shorts. Roger De Vlaeminck’s jersey, however, appears to be a Version 3 without stripes. (Could it be a team sweater?) According to Walter Vermeulen, the photo was taken August 10, 1973 in the pastry shop of a local cycling fan following the Sint-Niklaas post-Tour de France criterium. The photo of Sercu wearing the Version 1 jersey at the top of this story may have been taken during this race or at another post-Tour crit. It has been reported that riders often rode in random jerseys selected by the crit organizer.

Along with the timeline, I am working on a visual list of all the Brooklyn jersey variants between 1973 and 1977, including 6 Day, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and other race leader’s jerseys. Some of these leader’s jersey lack sponsor logos because I have yet to find good photos  I can use to create them. This is an ongoing project and one for which I’m happy to accept comments and additions.

Brooklyn Jersey Varients