tour de france 2019 different jerseys

The 2019 Tour de France Yellow Jerseys. Photo: ASO/Pauline Ballet

Tour de France: Yellow, Green, White and Polka Dot jerseys explained

The Tour de France is most famous for its Yellow Jersey, but there’s much more at stake than the maillot jaune. Here’s what you need to know.

tour de france 2019 different jerseys

The 2019 Tour de France Yellow Jerseys. Photo: ASO/Pauline Ballet

As cycling fans across the globe turn their eyes to the Tour de France from 6-28 July, Geraint Thomas will be looking to defend the highly coveted Yellow Jersey.

Although this is the main prize on offer, those less familiar with the tour might be unaware that the peloton will also be battling it out for three other prestigious prizes.

If you are a casual Tour de France observer or a new cycling fan, our brief Tour de France jerseys 101 crash course offers you everything you need to know.

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Yellow Jersey (maillot jaune)

This is awarded to the Tour de France leader in terms of overall time. The jersey, like all others at the Tour de France, changes hands based on ranking at the end of each stage before the overall winner claims the prize at the end of the tour.

The 90s kids can be forgiven for associating the maillot jaune with Lance Armstrong, but his doping cost him the overall record for tour wins as he was stripped of his seven titles. As a result, Belgium’s Eddy Merckx currently holds the record with five — earned in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974.

Green Jersey (maillot vert)

The Green Jersey, generally regarded as a sprinter’s jersey, is awarded to the rider with the most points at the end of each stage, eventually going to the overall points winner of the Tour de France. Some points can be earned during mid-stage sprints, but the majority are awarded to the first 10-25 riders to cross the finish line.

Although the maillot vert is a secondary classification, it is by no means an easy prize to win. This is evidenced by the fact that only four of 169 overall tour champions have ever finished first on points: Jan Janssen, Ferdinand Kübler, Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx. The record for the most Green Jersey triumphs at the Tour de France is six, shared by Peter Sagan and Erik Zabel.

Polka Dot Jersey

This is a jersey reserved for the king of the mountains, the rider with the most points in the designated climbing sections of each stage. Points are earned here by the riders who reach the summit first. Climbs are ranked according to difficulty from category 1 (most challenging) to category 4 (least strenuous), with more points being awarded for success on tougher climbs.

The winner of the Polka Dot Jersey is often a small-built, energetic climber. It is little surprise, then, that lightweight Richard Virenque is the most decorated climber of all time at the Tour de France with seven King of the Mountains crowns.

White Jersey (maillot blanc)

Essentially, this is like the Yellow Jersey but exclusively open to Tour de France contenders under the age of 25. The highest-placed young rider in the general classification wins the prize.

Few will be surprised to know that Jan Ullrich, who fought several fierce battles with Lance Armstrong at his peak, sits joint top of the historical list having won the young riders’ classification on three occasions. Only Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck has matched the German’s total.