Matti Lehikoinen forfeits national champs win

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Matti Lehikoinen raced at the Finnish national championships over the weekend, but opted to stop at the finish line forfeiting his first place in protest at the UCI’s rules on national championships jerseys. 

Matti Lehikoinen raced at the Finnish national championships over the weekend, but opted to stop at the finish line forfeiting his first place in protest at the UCI’s rules on national championships jerseys.

The rules state that "National mountain bike champions must wear their jersey in all events in the discipline, speciality and category in which they won their title and no other event.

However, under the prior approval of the concerned National Federation and instead of wearing a traditional national champions jersey in the sense of the provision 1.3.068, the national champions in MTB DHI, MTB 4X and BMX have the possibility to wear a distinct national champion jersey with the left arm sleeve representing the flag of the rider’s country."


Matti in action at the at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup ©MTBCut

But not all countries have done this (including Finland and the Czech Republic), which meant that if Matti had become the Finnish national champ, he would not be able to race in the Team CRC/Nukeproof jersey for UCI events – i.e. the majority of the season.

As Team Manager Nigel Page says, "This causes major problems as our sponsors that pay for the team, the salaries and expenses would not get any exposure from the rider jerseys.

This is a massive concern for all big teams, and we hope that this rule can be changed by the UCI in the future."

Matti voiced his opinion on the matter too, saying: "I raced the National Champs last weekend – it was a wicked little track with some nice jumps and good flow to it. I would have loved to race it seriously but unfortunately our federation had not been on it once again to replace the national champs jersey with the national flag on the sleeve.

I was pretty bummed out that our federation had not sorted the jersey thing for this year like most other countries’ federations. I cruised the qualification to an easy three second win but in the final I stopped before the finish line because I didn’t want to win the jersey!

It was pretty funny because everyone thought I was going for it and when I stopped and crossed the finish line everyone was dead quiet. Everyone was just shocked because they didn’t believe what had happened.

I hope this will raise some thoughts at our federation and they will change the rule for the future."


"National champions in mountain biking have the possibility to wear a distinct national champion jersey with the left arm sleeve representing the flag of the rider’s country" – an option not available to Matti.

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