Just go ahead and bookmark this page for the entire Tour de France. You’ll be needing it.
The Tour de France is the most prestigious cycling race in the world. 2014 will see 198 riders from 22 teams battle it out in 21 stages. They’ll start in Yorkshire, England, and battle their way through 21 hairpin turns, a 33 percent gradient slope, and a 14km climb to the summit of Ale d’Huez. 23 gruelling days later, the winner will ride into the Champs Elysee in Paris. 3.5 billion people in over 180 countries will tune in to watch.
So what do the different coloured jerseys have to do with it?
The Tour de France jerseys are as much a part the sport as allegations over doping. Without them, it just wouldn’t be the same.
The different coloured jerseys signal to both the audience and competing cyclists who is the leader in a particular category. Not all cyclists will compete in all stages. They all have their different strengths to play. The 2014 Tour de France includes nine flat stages, five bumpy up-and-down stages, six mountain stages (with five summit finishes), and an individual time trial.
To bring you up to speed (so to speak) here’s what all the Tour de France jerseys mean.
The Yellow Jersey
French name: maillot jaune
This is the most prestigious of them all. The yellow jersey is worn by the overall time leader, who is chosen by calculating their total combined race time.
It was originally chosen as yellow because, at its inception in 1919, the race sponsor’s magazine, L’Auto was yellow.
There is a code of honour surrounding the yellow jersey. Cyclists who have won it through the misfortune of others (for example, in a crash) have refused to wear it.
Image Source: Cycling Tips
The Green Jersey
French name: maillot vert
The wearer of the green jersey must have some serious calf muscles as this jersey is awarded to the cyclist with the highest number of sprint points.
How are these calculated? Points are awarded to the cyclists who finish first, second, third, etc.. at each stage, with different numbers of points depending on the type of stage.
For example, a flat stage will give the winner 45 points (down to 2 points for the 15th rider), while a high mountain stage will give the winner 20 points (down to 1 point for the 15th rider). They’re awarded differently because certain stages are more likely to end in a sprint finish (a.k.a. a flat stage) than others.
At the end of the Tour, the winner is determined by the highest number of points accrued. In the event of a tie, the prize goes to the cyclist with the most stage wins. Erik Zabel has won the mountain classification a record six times.
Image Source: Zimbio
The Polka Dot Jersey
French name: maillot à pois rouges
The polka dot jersey is no joke: it’s worn by the ‘King of the Mountain’, the cyclist who’s gained the highest number of points in the mountain stages.
Like the yellow jersey, it was chosen in 1975 to reflect a then-sponsor, Poulin Chocolate. Like the green jersey, there’s a complex system of points based on the difficulty on the ride, and what place you finish in.
Mountain stages are divided into five categories: is the hardest, with categories 1–4 following (with 4 being the easiest). A cyclist who finishes first in the Hors catégorie will gain 25 points (with the first ten cyclists all awarded a descending number of points), while the first to finish a fourth category stage will only win one point. In the fourth category, no points are awarded beyond first place.
If the rider winning the mountain classification is also winning in another category (for example, he’s wearing the yellow or the green jersey), then the polka dot jersey will be worn by the mountain cyclist in second place.
Image Source: The Epoch Times
The White Jersey
French name: maillot blanc
The white jersey is like the yellow jersey, but only for riders under 26. Four riders have made Tour de France history by winning both the young rider classification and the general classification in the same year, most recently by Andy Schleck in 2010.
The young rider classification was introduced in 1975, and was originally only open to riders in their first three years of professional cycling (neo-professionals). This was later changed to first time riders only, before being changed again to the current rules.
Image Source: INRNG.
Are you looking at getting into the cycling game?
Apart from having a serious passion for the sport, the most important thing to a cyclist is the gear they wear. You can usually pick out a cyclist from a casual bike rider due to an alarming amount of lycra present. Keep an eye out for the oft-spotted MAMIL: a Middle Aged Man In Lycra.
If you are looking to get into cycling as a serious sport, have a gander at what gear you’ll be needing. Or, go straight to the source and check out the best places to buy your cycling gear online.
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