Le maillot est le trophée: The history of the Tour de France yellow jersey and a look at today's iteration

See what's printed inside the yellow jersey of this year's Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes

The 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift yellow jersey made by Santini
(Image credit: )

Nowadays, the yellow jersey is a symbol of cycling. More recognizable even than the rainbow stripes that signify a world champion. Yet in the early days of the Tour de France, there was no such thing as a yellow jersey. From the Tour’s inception in 1903 until 1919, only a simple green armband was used to help fans and journalists identify the race leader.   

The story goes that the 1919 Tour was already two-thirds of the way through when the race director, Henri Desgrange, recognized that there needed to be a clearer identifier of the race leader. A jersey seemed like the most obvious option and he chose yellow in honor of  L’Auto-Vélo, the newspaper that sponsored the race and was printed on yellow paper. 

And so on July 18, 1919, then-race leader Eugène Christophe premiered the very first yellow Tour de France jersey (opens in new tab)

Many iterations of the iconic jersey have been produced over the hundred years that followed, but this year’s jerseys — the yellow, green, polka dots and white — are produced by Santini. Santini signed a five-year sponsor partnership with race organizers last fall, which will run through the end of the 2026 event.

The Italian brand is on the hook to supply all the official jerseys for the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the L’Étape du Tour sportif series as well as replica jerseys available to the public.

At the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Cycling Weekly got a close-up look at the yellow leader’s jersey, which comes with a message printed inside the back of the jersey. And just as the race leader's team logo will be added to the front of the jersey, the leader's name will be printed alongside the inscription inside each jersey.

Santini 2022 Tour de France jersey inscription

(Image credit: Future)

Le maillot est le trophée

Maillot jaune

Dans vos mains, vous tenez une icône. Aucun autre maillot qui existe dans le monde du sport ne véhicule une histoire aussie profonde que celle du Maillot Jaune. C’est un symbole, non seulement de la victoire, mais aussi de l’histoire et de la culture d’une nation et d’un sport, porté sur les épaules de quelques privilégiés seulement.

2022 marque le début d’un nouveau chapitre et vous inscrit dans l’histoire de ce symbole. Avec une grande fierté, nous pouvons affirmer que ce maillot a été exclusivement fabriqué à la main dans notre usine familiale à Bergame en Italie, où nous habitions la passion du cyclisme depuis 1965.

Félicitations,

[winner’s name to be printed here]

Ce trophé est le vôtre

Transcription:

The jersey is the trophy

The Yellow Jersey

In your hands you hold an icon. No other jersey that exists in the world of sport conveys such a deep history as that of the Yellow Jersey. It is a symbol, not only of victory but also of the history and culture of a nation and a sport, carried on the shoulders of only a select few.

With great pride we can say that this jersey has been exclusively handcrafted in our family owned factory in Bergamo, Italy, where we have had a passion for cycling since 1965.

Congratulation,

[winner's name to be printed here]

This trophy is yours

Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard collected an impressive 11 jerseys throughout the 2022 Tour de France, while Dutch woman Lorena Wiebes became the first woman in 33 years to win an official Tour de France yellow jersey. The Tour de Frances Femmes avec Zwift is ongoing and has seven more iconic yellow jerseys to hand out.

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