Tour de France: your guide to Jerseys

Tour de France

Tour de France: your guide to Jerseys

It’s the cycling sporting highlight of the year – the Tour de France – 23 days of lycra clad action across July, with the best riders in the world cycling over 3,500km (2,200 miles). Whilst called the Tour de France the start of the race (called the Grand Départ) usually starts in a City outside of France, before riders then pass through France and neighbouring countries such as Belgium, before always finishing in Paris.

This year’s Grand Départ is in Copenhagen, with two further stages in Denmark, before the race will work its way through eastern and southern France.

The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Individual finishing times for each stage are totalled to determine the overall winner at the end of the race, who wins the much coveted ‘yellow jersey’. There, are however, other coloured jerseys to be won. So read on for some more Le Tour trivia!

Yellow

The most coveted Jersey of the Tour De France, the Yellow Jersey is worn by the race leader. In the early days the leader wore a green armband, but this was quite hard to see by the other competitors. The idea came from Race Director Henri Desgrange to introduce a coloured Jersey, and yellow as chosen as it was the colour of the race’s newspaper sponsor L’Auto-Velo. The overall winner of the Tour receives the Yellow Jersey as a symbol of excellence, prestige and victory.

Past Winners

Reading through the list of yellow jersey wearers and tour winners, is a who’s who of cycling greats. Eddy Merckx of Belguim holds the most jerseys at 96 and 5 tour wins. In second place, Bernard Hinault from France with 75 and 5 tour wins. In third, Miguel Indurain from Spain with 60 and 5 wins. And in forth, Chris Froome, with 59 jerseys and 4 tour wins!

Green

In 1953 the Green Jersey was introduced. In 1952 rider Fausto Coppi beat everyone by such a large margin that other riders decided to give up. In order to stop riders quitting the following year, stage placings were awarded with points and the leader of the points the Green Jersey. Points are awarded for stage finishes and intermediate sprints. Green was chosen to match sponsor La Belle Jardiniere, a lawn mower manufacture, and today fits in very well with Skoda as sponsor. The Green Jersey is typically awarded to powerful sprinters.

Past Winners

Peter Sagan from Slovakia has won the most times with 7, Erik Zabel of Germany with 6 and Sean Kelly of Ireland winning 4 times. Most recently won by Mark Cavendish in 2021

Polka Dot

Ever since 1905, the tour newspaper of the time, L’Auto-Velo chose a best climber starting with Rene Pottier who raced to the summit of the Ballon d’Alsace. In 1933 the title was given official classification, but it was not until 1975 that the first polka dot jersey was awarded. The polka dot colours chosen after the original sponsor Chocolat Poulain. The winner of the best climber classification is awarded the polka dot jersey.

Past Winners

Richard Virenque from France holds 7 wins of the polka dot jersey. Federico Bahamontes from Spain, and Lucien Van Impe from Belgium both hold 6 titles.

White

In the earlier days of the tour the white jersey was worn by the leader of the combined classification based on the overall, points and mountains standings. In 1975 however, this changed to represent the best placed rider under the age of 26. The first winner of the white jersey was Fransesco Moser in 1975.

Past Winners

The only riders to have won the white jersey more than once are Jan Ullrich and Andy Schleck with 3 wins each, and Nairo Quintana and Marco Pantani both with 2 wins. And most recently Tadej Pogacar joins the list with 2 consecutive white jersey wins after winning in 2020 and both the white and yellow jerseys in 2021!

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