There are four Tour de France classification jerseys awarded after each stage of the three-week race, each recognizing different success and talents in the race.
The iconic yellow jersey is worn by the race leader climbs, while the best white rider’s jersey is another based on time, only reserved for riders born after January 1, 1996.
The team classification is also based on time, with the riders of the leading team racing with special yellow numbers (dossards). The most aggressive rider wears a special red number during the following stage.
The most aggressive rider of the entire race is selected by the jury at the end of the Tour de France and is just like the other competition winners in Paris.
The yellow jersey – the maillot jaune
The yellow jersey is worn by the leader of the general classification, the rider with the lowest net time in the race after every stage. The rider who takes it to Paris is crowned the Tour de France winner, the prestigious post success of the men’s cycling season. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the 2021 Tour de France.
The jersey is yellow because the newspaper first organized the race, L’Autowas printed on yellow paper.
The classification is based on the time taken to cover the 21 stages, taking into account time penalties and time bonuses. In the event of a tie in the general classification, the first winner will be included in the general classification. If the riders remain tied up, then the positions in which they are finished will be taken into account.
Bonus seconds are offered to encourage attacking racing and these are deducted for the time needed to cover the stage. Bonuses of 10, 6, 4 seconds are awarded on the finish three riders on each stage, excluding time trials.
All riders must finish within the time limit – ranging from 104% to 120% depending on the stage and average speed This is often a problem for sprinters, domestiques and injured riders when it comes to the high mountains.
The green jersey – the maillot vert
The green jersey is worn by the leader of the points classification. Points are awarded at stage finishes and intermediate sprints (one per road stage).
While the sprinters are the main candidates for the green jersey, it’s the more versatile among them that has the best chance of overall success in Paris. Peter Sagan is one such rider and has won green in seven of the past nine Tours, while Mark Cavendish took his second green jersey last year.
Points are awarded to the first 15 riders at stage finishes or intermediate sprints, with different allocations depending on the nature of the stage. More points are awarded on flat stages than on trials. The winner of a flat stage scores 50 points, a mountain stage winner just 20.
Only riders who complete the entire Tour de France are included in the points classification.
In the event where a rider or riders finish outside the time limit but they are rehabilitated by the president of the commissaires’ jury, they will lose all points awarded.
The polka-dot jersey – the maillot blanc à pois rouges
The polka-dot jersey is worn by the leader of the mountains classification, who is known as the ‘king of the mountains.’
Mountain points are on the top of every classified climb, ranging from the hardest – ‘hors catégorie’ – to the easiest – category 4.
Hors catégorie: 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2
Category 1: 10-8-6-4-2-1
Category 2: 5-3-2-1
Category 3: 2-1
Category 4: 1
In the event of two riders being equal on points, the winner will be declared the winner.
Only riders who will be included in the best climber classification. In the event of a rider or riders finishing outside the time limit but being reinstated by the president of the commissaires’ jury, they will lose all points awarded to them in the best climber classification.
The white jersey – the maillot blanc
At the end of the Tour de France in Paris, the prize is awarded to the most aggressive rider of the whole race
The white jersey is worn by the leader of the best young classification. A young rider is anyone who was born after January 1, 1996, so anyone under 25. The jersey goes to best placed on general classification.
Tadej Pogačar won both the white jersey and the yellow jersey in 2021 and the white jersey is often the indication of the future Tour de France contenders.
The red dossard
The special red number dossard is awarded to the rider intended, subjectively, the ‘most combative’ the previous day. He is usually the most active rider in the breakaway or someone who shows panache and aggression or even qualities of sportsmanship.
The prize, which is awarded on every road stage except the final one, is decided by a jury presided over by the race director. Each stage’s most aggressive rider wears a red race dossard during the following stage.
The race’s most aggressive rider (super-combatif) is selected by members of the jury at the end of the Tour de France.
Wearing the leader’s jerseys is mandatory from the signing-in protocol before the post-stage press conference. Skinsuits are provided to the leaders of the various rankings for time trial stages, with special fitting sessions arranged the day before the time trials.
The yellow race number dossard is worn by members of the leading team classification. It is calculated by adding together the times of each team’s three best riders at every stage. Any team will be eliminated from the team classification.
Riders can lead multiple jersey classifications but only wear one jersey in the race. There is an established order of priority for the different leader’s jerseys: the yellow jersey, followed by the red jersey, then the red polka-dot jersey and finally the white jersey.
When a rider is leading several classes, they wear the one designated by the order of priority. The other jerseys are then worn by the riders lying second, third or fourth in the corresponding classification.