Tour de France jerseys: Yellow, green, white and polka dot explained

We explain what the yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys worn by riders in the Tour de France represent

Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar on the podium of the 2022 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tour de France jerseys quick guide
Jersey colourClassification
YellowGeneral classification, overall leader
Polka dotsMountains
WhiteBest young rider

The Tour de France sees the very best cyclists in the world battle it out for the yellow, green, white and polka dot jerseys, based on the general, points, mountains and young rider classifications. 

The jersey for each category is awarded to the leader of that classification at the end of every stage, and the recipient earns the right to wear it during the following day's racing. When a rider has the lead in multiple classifications, the yellow jersey is prioritised, then green, the polka dot, and white - the next person on the ranking wears the kit in the leader's stead.

Here we take a brief look at what they are and how they are won. 

Jonas Vingegaard time trials at the 2022 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France yellow jersey - GC leader

Also called the maillot jaune, the Tour de France yellow jersey is the most coveted piece of kit in professional cycling. The wearer is the rider who has completed the race in the least amount of time, and as such tops the overall or general classification (GC) of the race.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) dominated the GC in 2020 and 2021, wearing the yellow jersey almost throughout the 2021 edition, before Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) took it off him halfway through the 2022 race, wearing it until the end of the race.

Before that, in 2012, Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to finish in Paris in the Yellow Jersey - with Chris Froome following up in 2013, 2015-2017. Geraint Thomas took the 2018 race, becoming the third British rider to win the race.

The yellow jersey is sponsored by LCL, a French bank, and it is yellow, because the Tour's original organiser, L'Auto, was a newspaper printed on yellow paper. 

A time bonus of 10, six and four seconds will be awarded to the first three riders across the finish line each day (not including TTs). These bonus seconds are taken off their stage and therefore overall time. Bonus seconds of eight, five and two seconds are also awarded on certain, strategically placed climbs on stages one, two, five, 12, 14 and 17.

Last 10 winners of the Tour de France general classification:

Tour de France green jersey - points classification

Wout van Aert at the 2022 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The green jersey relates to points awarded to riders according to the position they finish on each stage, with additional points for intermediate sprints during some stages also on offer.

The number of points on offer will vary depending upon the type of stage. More are on offer during pure flat, sprint days, while on hilly and mountain stages there are fewer points available. The points are then tallied up after each stage and added to points won in all previous stages. The green jersey (maillot vert) is awarded to the rider with the most points. Sometimes it is a sprinter's game, sometimes more of an all-rounder - like Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

The jersey took its colour because the initial sponsor was a lawn mower manufacturer - though the colour was changed once in 1968 to accommodate a sponsor. It is now sponsored by Škoda, and has a new shade for this year.

Both Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault successfully won both the general classification and the points classification with Merckx achieving the biggest sweep in 1969 with the points, mountain and general classifications to his name. Over the last ten years, Peter Sagan has triumphed in the points classification on no less than seven occasions. 

The following points are on offer:

Flat stage (stages 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 18, 19, 21): 50, 30, 20 points (descending to 15th place) 

Hilly stage (stages 1, 9, 10, 12, 13): 30, 25, 22 points (descending to 15th place)

Mountain stage and ITTs (5, 6, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20): 20, 17, 15, (descending to 15th place)

Intermediate sprint: 20, 17, 15, (descending to 15th place)

Last 10 winners of the Tour de France points classification:

Tour de France jerseys: Polka dot - King of the Mountains classification leader

Tour de France polka dot jersey - mountains classification

Simon Geschke in the polka dot jersey at the 2022 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mountains points are awarded to riders who manage to summit classified climbs first. Points vary depending on the category of each ascent, with more difficult climbs awarding more mountains points.  

Climbs are divided into five categories: 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) - then there's the 'Hors Categorie', denoted by HC which represents the most challenging of ascents. The tougher the category, the more points on offer, and to more riders - a HC climb will see points awarded down to the first eight over the summit, while a fourth category climb results in points for just the first rider over the top.

The organisers decide which mountains or climbs will be included in the competition, and which category they fall into. If the stage features a summit finish, the points for the climb are doubled.

The points are tallied up after each stage and added to points won in all previous stages. The distinctive white-with-red-dots jersey (maillot à pois rouges) is given to the rider with the most mountains points. The first climber's award was given out in 1933, and the jersey arrived on the scene in 1975. It is now sponsored by Leclerc, a supermarket.

Points awarded as follows:

HC: 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2pts  

1st cat: 10, 8, 6, 7, 5, 1pt 

2nd cat: Five, three, two.

3rd cat: Two and one points 

4th cat: One point 

The souvenir Henri Desgrange is awarded to the first rider over the race’s highest point, the Col de Loze, on stage 17. The souvenir Jacques Goddet to the first rider over the Col du Tourmalet on stage 16. 

Last 10 winners of the Tour de France mountains classification:

Tour de France white jersey - best young rider

Tadej Pogacar Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The plain white, young rider classification jersey is awarded to the fastest rider born after 1 January 1998, meaning 25 or under. It is sponsored by Krys, an opticians

First introduced in 1975, riders such as Marco Pantani, Alberto Contador, Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogačar have all won the young rider classification, helping propel them onto bigger and better things during their careers.

Last 10 winners of the Tour de France young rider classification:

Other Tour de France classifications - team and combativity

There are two further classifications that do not earn the winner(s) a coloured jersey - the most aggressive rider award and Team Classification.

While not necessarily a classification, the Combativity Award is given to the rider who has shown the most fighting spirit during each individual stage, as chosen by the race jury. They will wear a gold race number during the following day's stage. A 'Super Combativity' award is handed out on the final stage for the most aggressive rider during the whole race.

The Team Classification is based on the collective time of the three highest-placed riders from each squad. Leaders of the team classification get to wear race numbers that are yellow with black digits, and the right to wear yellow helmets. The latter is not compulsory.

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