Le Tour de France: A Deep Dive Into The Annual Men’s Multiple Stage Bike Race



The Tour de France is an annual men’s multiple-stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally passing through nearby countries. Like the other Grand Tours, it consists of 21 stages, each a day long, over the course of 23 days.

Le Tour de France sees the best of the best bicyclists in the world compete for the yellow, green, white and polka-dot jerseys. The jerseys are representation for the general, points, mountain, and youth categories  in the competition. The jersey for each category is awarded to the winner of each classication at the end of every stage. Those who have earned their jersey earn the right to wear it in the next day’s race.

The yellow jersey, also known as the “maillot jaune” in French, is the most sought after article of clothing in the sport of professional cycling. The yellow jersey is awarded to the cyclist that finishes the race in the least amount of time. This means to have beaten the overall score, or what is commonly known as the general classification of the race.

The green Jersey, also known as the “maillot vert” in French, is awarded to the leader of the points classification. This refers to the cyclist who earns the most points, during any given stage, which is determined by the finishing position of the cyclist. At the end of each stage, points are added to the total amount of points earned.

The amount of points available will vary from stage to stage. More points are on offer during pure flat, or what is known as sprint days, compared to other stages. There are fewer points available to earn on mountainous or stages with hills.The first 15 cyclists to complete each stage are awarded points. The most points are awarded whomever comes in first place, which is represented by the green jersey.

Sam Bennett pictured in the green jersey during Le Tour de France 2020 (via Getty Images)

The amount of points available  will vary from stage to stage. More points are on offer during pure flat, or what is known as sprint days, compared to other stages. There are fewer points available to earn on mountainous or stages with hills. The first fifteen cyclists to complete each stage are awarded points. The most points are awarded whomever comes in first place, which is represented by the green jersey.

As of 1953, the color green was selected to represent this classification because the initial sponsor was a lawn mower manufacturer. The color has not changed, except for when it was briefly changed in 1986 to accommodate another sponsor. Afterwards, it reverted back to green and has remained in tact since then.

The polka dot jersey is  known as the “maillot à pois rouges” in French. It was originally referred to as the climbers award. It was initially acknowledged  in 1933, while the jersey was first distributed in 1975. The distinctive white jersey with red dots is awarded to the rider with the most accumulated mountain points.

Mountain points are awarded to cyclists who summit classified climbs first. Points vary depending on the ascent category. For example, climbs considered to be difficult have  more points on offer. At the end of each stage the points are awarded and then added the total amount of points.

Mountain ascents are divided into five categories. The first four categories are represented by the numbers one through four. Each category varies in ascent difficulty, starting at one being the most difficult and ending with four being the least difficult. The fifth category is known the “hors categorie” and is also referenced by its abbreviations or initials, HC, representing the most challenging of ascents.

The Tougher the climb, the further down points are awarded. For example, in the HC category points are awarded down to the first eight over the summit. Whereas, in the fourth category, points are awarded down to only the first rider over the summit. The organizers decide which mountains will be included in the competition and which category they fall into. When the stage features a summit finish, the points for the climb are doubled.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: