The Tour de France is one of the largest and most watched cycling races in the world. In 2022, no less than 121 cyclists will participate, divided over 22 teams. Most of these riders will wear jerseys with their sponsors' logos, but there are some exceptions. After each stage, a number of jerseys are handed out to the riders with the best performances of the previous round(s). There is a yellow leader's jersey, a polka dot jersey, a green and a white jersey. This can change after each stage, and the jersey can therefore also change hands per stage.
The yellow jersey
The yellow jersey, or leader's yellow jersey, is the most important jersey in the Tour de France and is awarded to the leader of the general classification. This means that the rider with the yellow jersey has driven the lowest time of all rides so far. Whoever has this jersey at the end of the Tour de France is therefore also the winner. The yellow jersey was created to make the leader of the classification stand out more. Riders can wear the jersey for one stage, and may lose the second stage already. The record of wearing the yellow jersey stands at 96 stages, very impressive. This achievement was achieved by the Belgian Eddy Merckx, a cyclist who is rightly called one of the best cyclists of all time. Merckx finished the Tour de France a total of five times between 1969 and 1974 with the yellow jersey. This feat is surpassed only by Lance Armstrong, with seven victories. However, these titles were later stripped from Armstrong because it was proven that he used doping .
Dutch cyclists are not doing too badly either, in the history of the Tour de France no fewer than 19 Dutch people have worn the jersey over 81 stages. The rider with (so far) by far the most jerseys to his name is Joop Zoetemelk, namely 22. Since Zoetemelk has not competed for years, it remains to be seen whether this record will be broken. The cyclist with the most jerseys to his name who is currently active is Mathieu van der Poel. He has pulled the jersey a total of six times so far, but we certainly expect more to come.
The polka dot jersey
The white and red polka dot jersey is worn by the leader of the King of the Mountains , i.e. the best climber in the pack. Leading riders earn points during each climb in this mountain classification, the amount of points depends on the height of the mountain and the time they ride. The toughest climbs are not categorised, and the first rider to reach this top receives twenty points. The jersey was first assigned in 1975, to none other than Joop Zoetemelk. When a cyclist is the leader of the general classification, but is also the leader of the mountain classification, he wears the yellow jersey. The polka dot jersey is then given to the number two in the mountains classification.
Dutch cyclists are less successful in getting the polka dot jersey than in getting the yellow jersey. So far, the polka dot jersey has been worn twice by a Dutch rider, at the end of the eighties. Anyway, getting the yellow jersey is of course much more impressive.
The green sweater
In addition to the yellow jersey and the polka dot jersey, there is also the green jersey. This is again assigned to the leader of the points classification. Where the polka dot jersey is won by climbers, the green jersey usually goes to the fastest sprinters. There are sprints during each stage, and you win the green jersey by sprinting as the fastest. The riders are awarded a number of points in order of reaching the finish line. The first to cross the line gets the most points. In total, the first fifteen of the sprint will be awarded points. The flatter the path, the more points a rider can collect. Here too, when a cyclist owns the yellow jersey and also earns a green jersey, the green jersey goes to the number two.
The white sweater
The white jersey goes to what you might expect with the green jersey, the best young rider (the rookies). This jersey is for cyclists under 26 years old, and goes to the fastest rider in the general classification. Just like the yellow jersey. It probably won't come as a complete surprise that Joop Zoetemelk wore this sweater in his younger years. With the white jersey, however, it is difficult to estimate who can win the jersey. This has a lot to do with strategies that are determined within a team.