TeamCBC Cycling Tip – Understanding the Tour de France: The Jerseys

After an almost 2 month delay, the Tour de France will begin this weekend. For those of you haven’t followed it very closely, here is a brief explanation of the jerseys.

This year’s race will starts in Nice and end 23 days later in Paris. The race is almost 2200 miles in length and is broken up into 21 races called “stages”. After each week there is one rest day. This year there are 22 teams with 176 riders. In the past, it has been an incredibly popular event with 12 million spectators and another 3.5 billion fans watching on TV. For each hosting city or town, it is like the Super Bowl that turns into a traveling circus as it moves around the country.

What’s the meaning of all these jerseys?

There are 4 different jerseys that are awarded after each stage – Yellow, Green, Polka Dot and White. They represent the leader in each classification, General, Points, Mountains and Best Young Rider. In order to be the champion in each category, you must not only finish all 21 stages, but also complete them within so many minutes of the leader (otherwise you will be dropped).

The Yellow Jersey or “Maillot Jaune” – For most, the race’s fabled yellow jersey stands above all else, as it designates the rider who leads the General Classification. After each stage, officials calculate who has the fastest time across the entire race. The jersey then goes to the overall leader, who gets to wear it in the following stage. And because it’s based on time and not points, the yellow won’t necessarily go to the given day’s stage winner.

The Green Jersey or “Maillot Vert” – This worn by the top sprinter. Points are awarded to riders according to the position that they finish each stage, and there are additional points for intermediate sprints during some stages. Stage winners get the most points, with less points awarded to those that cross second, third, etc.

The Polka Dot Jersey or “Maillot à Pois Rouge” – This goes to the leader of the Mountains Classification, otherwise known as King of the Mountains. Points in this contest are awarded to the first riders who reach the summit of designated climbs on each stage. Tour de France climbs are ranked from category 1 (most difficult) to category 4 (least difficult). A fifth class, hors catégorie (“beyond category”), is reserved for the most challenging ascents. The amount of points awarded depends on the difficulty of each climb.

The White Jersey or “Maillot Blanc” – This goes to the General Classification leader who is 25 years old or younger (on January 1 in the given race year). Put simply, it goes to the best young rider with the lowest overall time. For young, ambitious all-rounders in the race, winning the white jersey is like winning yellow.

Other Jerseys – The current national road champions get to wear their team’s jersey that also features their country’s colors, and the reigning World Champion gets to wear their team colors on a jersey with horizontal stripes throughout the race.

Quote of the week: “As long as I breathe, I attack.” Bernard Hinault, 5-time TDF winner

Here is an article that explains the jerseys in more detail:

Stay safe and enjoy the race!

Rick Bunnell

President, TeamCBC