Jerseys of the Tour de France

Over the course of the three-week Tour, the professional peloton fight for yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys. Each jersey is awarded to the leader of that classification after every stage and the leader wears that jersey on the road the next day. The final stage of the Tour de France is heald in Paris, on the Champs Elysées. It’s here where the overall winner of each jersey is announced.

The Tour de France is televised in over 190 countries worldwide, providing a huge opportunity for teams to get their sponsors seen by the public. Around 12 million spectators line the roadside each year with in excess of 1.5 billion people watching the event on TV. Some teams go to the race with the sole objective of winning a jersey, while others hunt for individual stage wins.

The jerseys of the Tour de France are a big deal in cycling, so how does a rider win one?

Jerseys of the Tour de France:

  1. Yellow Jersey
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    Yellow Jersey

    The yellow jersey, otherwise known as the ‘maillot jaune’ is the most important of the race and is awarded to the leader of the general classification. The rider with the lowest accumulative time at the end of each stage is the one who leads the ‘GC’. Why is the jersey yellow? In 1919 the organisers felt that it was becoming difficult to spot the leader of the race. At the time race sponsor’s magazine, L’Auto, was printed on yellow paper and thus the colour yellow was chosen.

    Spectators often see Mark Cavendish sprint to victory and ask “Why can he not win the Tour de France?”. The answer is simple; sprinters struggle on the mountainous stages in the Alps and Pyrenees where climbers excel but climbers don’t struggle as much on the flat stages where sprinters cross the line first. For example, Mark Cavendish may cross the line first on a flat stage after 4 hours of racing with Chris Froome in the same group, on the same time. After the first mountain stage, however, Chris Froome will likely finish with the leaders while Mark Cavendish crosses the line over 30 minutes behind, slipping down the general classification and out of contention for the yellow jersey.

    Previous winners:

    2017 – Chris Froome (Team Sky)

    2016 – Chris Froome (Team Sky)

    2015 – Chris Froome (Team Sky)

    2014 – Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)

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  2. Green Jersey
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    Green Jersey

    Also known as the points classification jersey, the green jersey is awarded to the best sprinter in the tour. At the end of each stage, points are awarded to the top 15 riders, there are also intermediate sprint points throughout each stage.

    The green jersey was first introduced in 1953 to give riders that weren’t pure climbers a chance to compete in a separate classification. German sprinter Erik Zabel won a record six green jerseys while Peter Sagan who already has five will be trying to equal his record at the 2018 Tour de France.

    Previous winners:

    2017 – Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

    2016 – Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)

    2015 – Peter Sagan  (Tinkoff)

    2014 – Peter Sagan  (Liquigas-Doimo)

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  3. Le Coq Sportif Tour de France 2018 King of the Mountains Official Jersey - Red/White
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    Le Coq Sportif Tour de France 2018 King of the Mountains Official Jersey - Red/White

    Race director, Henri Desgrange, first introduced a mountains classification into the tour in 1934. He decided to start awarding points to riders that crested the top of mountains first, although there was no official climbers jersey until 1975. A chocolate company sponsored the race and designed the jersey with polka dots to resemble their chocolate bar wrapper.

    The higher and tougher the climb, the more points are awarded. It’s common for GC riders to place highly in the mountains classification but sometimes lesser known riders will attempt to get into the breakaway on multiple days to sweep up points towards the polka dot jersey.

    Previous winners:

    2017 – Warren Barguil

    2016 –  Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

    2015 – Chris Froome (Team Sky)

    2014 – Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

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  4. White Jersey (Young Rider's)
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    White Jersey (Young Rider's)

    The white jersey, otherwise known as the best young riders jersey is awarded to the best rider under the age of 26. It’s similar to the yellow jersey in that the classification is based around accumulative time rather than points. The white jersey is awarded to the highest placed under-26 rider on the general classification and gives us a good idea of who will be racing for the maillot jaune in a few years time.

    Previous winners:

    2017 – Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge)

    2016 – Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge)

    2015 – Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

    2014 – Thibaut Pinot  (FDJ)

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View all Tour de France merchandise at ProBikeKit, including jerseys, caps, socks and t-shirts!


Johnny Bowles

Johnny Bowles

Writer and expert