Tour De France Yellow Jersey? » (Yellow Shirt History & Facts)

The Tour De France is one of the most historic sporting events in the world. 

There are different colored jersey’s in the Tour De France, all with different meanings and stature behind them.

What is the Tour De France yellow jersey? It is one of the most well-known jerseys and it represents the best-ranked racers, as it signals that they have completed various stages of the race is the smallest amount of time. At the end of the race, the winner will wear the yellow jersey, and it can be compared to the green jacket of golf in just how much of an honor it is.

Today, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look into this jersey, the other colors that there are, and so on. 

We’ll also be taking a look at the race itself, and just how tough of a race it actually is.

The Yellow Jersey

As I mentioned, it is the premier jersey to wear and represents the current leader of the race.

It is also called the “Maillot Jaune” in French and is a shirt all professional bicyclist strive to acquire.

Only one cyclist gets to wear this at a time, making it that much more unique. 

It means they are the rider who is the leader of the General Classification (which we’ll cover more in detail later) and gets to put it on in the next stage.

Many cyclists dream of just getting to wear it at least one point in their career, let alone winning the entire race.

With one rider in each classification having this honor at a time, this puts them in a particular category from the rest of the racers, and typically, these leaders will focus on beating each other’s times and start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

The Green Jersey

Another jersey with high honor to its name, the green jersey is given to the cyclist with the most amount of points collectively in a classification.

Most of the points are won at the stage finish.

The green jersey is also a premier to wear, and many riders also seek out to wear this just once as well.

Often referred to as:

  • The Sprinters Jersey (They are all around good riders and consistent in many aspects)
  • Also known as “Maillot vert” which is Green Jersey in French

As a cool fact about the green jersey, it is the color of green due to a sponsor being a manufacturer of lawnmowers.

The Polka-Dot Jersey

Yet another premier jersey that one can wear during the Tour De France is the polka-dot jersey. 

This is referred to often as the “King of the Mountains” jersey as well.

This is because the jersey itself is worn by the person who has gathered the most amount of points from the mountain sections of the Tour De France, which are also referred to as some of the toughest parts of the course as well.

The White Jersey

The White Jersey is going to be given to the best young rider who fits these categories:

  • 25 years old or younger (Age determined on January 1 of the year of the race)
  • Lowest overall time (25 years or younger)

For young riders, this is the equivalent to winning the yellow jersey. 

It is highly respected and a wonderful award to receive. A great sign to a young rider that they are at the top of their class and may have an even more successful career.

History of The Yellow Jersey

In terms of when the yellow jersey appeared as an indicator of the leader from the start of it. The race itself started in 1903, and the leader would be highlighted with a green armband, to help then stand out somewhat from the crowd.

The yellow jersey would be then introduced in the year 1919 after the race returned from its pause after the end of World War I. The director at the time of the race, Henri Desgrange, came up with the idea of a better way to represent the leader, thus the yellow jersey was born.

The color itself derives from the color of the newspaper that sponsored the event, which happened to be yellow. As you can imagine, in the year 1919, the color yellow for men was not exactly a popular color at the time, and many thought it looked funny, but even throughout whatever people may have thought about it, it has stuck around for 100+ years.

The only real modification that has been made to the yellow jersey is the addition of Henri Desgrange’s initials, honoring the man who created the iconic jersey and made a staple in the Tour De France.


The race is broken up into various classifications. The most premier classification is the general classification, which also happens to be the oldest as well. This is also where the famous yellow jersey appears to the leader/winner as well.

Here are all the classifications:

  • General Classification (Yellow Jersey)
  • Mountains Classification (Polka-Dot Jersey)
  • Points Classification (Green Jersey)
  • Young Rider Classification (White Jersey)

The next classification is the mountains classification and is second to the general classification in terms of its age in the race. This is also represented by the polka-dot jersey, which I mentioned earlier.

Next up is the points classification, which was brought into the race in 1953, and is based off a point system to the first 15 athletes that finish a stage completely. This classification is represented by the green jersey.

The white jersey represents the young rider classification. This is given to athletes who are under 26 and is given to the rider who possesses the lowest aggregate time. This was first introduced in the Tour de France in 1975.

Tour De France

The historic race that many tune into each year, the Tour De France is perhaps one of the most globally recognized sporting events in the world. Beginning in 1903, the race has exploded in popularity and recognition all across the world, and also holds one of the biggest scandals in all of sports, referring to Lance Armstrong.

The race itself includes 21 stages and spans over 23 days, which is over 3 weeks of competition. It has run annually every year, except for when the event was put on hold for the World Wars, which had severe effects on France.

The course varies from year to year, but the locations stay nearly the same, but as with the course changes here and there, obviously, so do the locations. No matter the course though, it is a tough task to complete.

Just How Hard is It?

In the world of shorter attention spans and many people wanting to watch things quicker and quicker by the day, an event such as the Tour De France isn’t as popular as it once was. With that, also comes a lack of understanding of just how hard the feat is to do.

Any event that goes over three weeks is just mad, and in the world of endurance sports, the Tour De France is an absolute beast. Not only does it require a large amount of physical strength to keep performing for that long, but the mental toll is exhausting as well.

In total, the athletes will travel around 2,200 miles during the race, and their days of competition can even last in upwards of 6 hours a day. Competing for that long for 23 days is just unheard of in sports, and for the athletes that compete, preparation is harsh.

Factors Against The Cyclists

Several factors go against the competitors that do not exactly help the fact that they compete for three weeks. One of those factors is the fact that the event starts in the summer, and in the July heat, it takes a toll on the human body, no matter how in-shape you are.

Due to this, this adds a unique element to the event, which is that hydration and recovery are more crucial than ever for these athletes. It is a delicate balancing of when to eat and drink and when not to, which even the veterans of the race still have trouble dealing with.

The heat not only zaps the energy out of the racers, but it also makes them lose their appetite as well, and when you are burning a few thousand calories from one event, recovery is undoubtedly needed. However, if you find yourself overeating during this time, then you may not be able to perform at the level you need to the next day.

Mental Strain

Apart from the apparent physical beatdown that your body will get from a race like this, the spiritual warfare that these cyclists go through is rather exhausting as well. The thought of having to wake up every day for 3 weeks, knowing that competition awaits you is intense on its own, adding in exhaustion and pressure to that makes it even worse.

Many cyclists now take this into their training methods as well, knowing that they’ll need to be mentally stable before preparing to take on the mammoth that is the Tour De France.


Training for the Tour De France is perhaps one of the most grueling things to prepare for. This is because not only due to the physical wear and tear of the race itself, but also what all they will endure throughout the race, such as the quick turnaround times and their mental strength as well.

In terms of when most athletes began their start to training, they’ll pick back up riding in late November or even early December. From there, they work to establish building blocks to be as successful as they possibly can throughout the next few months.

The training picks up quite a bit usually for these athletes in February, where they start to really dial in their training and push themselves harder. When it hits around the 3-month out mark, this is when the athletes start to shift all of their efforts into preparing correctly for the race and cutting out most of the other training.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to do in terms of training for something like this is peaking at the right time. You don’t want to be underprepared for the race and not race in your usual standard that you hold yourself to, but you also do not want to come in overtrained, as this can severely have an impact on your performance as well.


Although many do not an associate risk with cycling, the Tour De France has had a terrible accident over its long tenure, even including fatalities during the event. The truth is, at the speed these cyclists travel, the danger is never too far away from them.

However, thanks to added safety measurements and a great, supportive staff, the race is not only becoming safer, but it also offers the athletes piece of mind knowing that there is staff on standby to help them with whatever they may need.

Winners of Tour De France

Winning the Tour De France is an absolute honor for any athlete in the field of endurance and shows your physical and mental compacity to be off the charts truly.

Obviously, when people think of the Tour De France and who was won, the name Lance Armstrong comes to mind, as he claimed 7 titles to his name. However, in 2012, the world would be stunned by one of the largest sport exploitations in the world, as he admitted to using PED’s and was stripped of all 7 titles and was given a lifetime ban as well.

It gave the sport a bad look, but it certainly wasn’t the race’s fault, just the athlete who decided to cheat for an advantage over his fellow competitors. However, despite that, there are some great names in the sport who have won, such as:

  • Chris Froome (2013, 2015-2017)
  • Miguel Indurain (1991-1995)
  • Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)

Most recently, Egan Bernal was the winner of the race, hailing from Colombia.


Overall, the Tour De France is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world today. The yellow jersey that is represented in the sport has a rather deep history and represents the top of the food chain in the race.

Also, there are a few other jerseys as well that represent different stages of the course. However, none are quite the stature of the yellow jersey, as we’ve learned. Also, race is one of the most brutal events in sports as well, both on the physical and mental side.

The athletes that compete in this go through intense training for most of the year, and then endure a three-week-long contest with little time to recover in between the stages. However, despite these setbacks the athletes face during the competition, many of them shine with flying colors, demonstrating just how tough they are and how prepared they have come for the race.

The Tour De France will continue to be an iconic sports event that will be cherished for many years to come, and the tradition of the yellow jersey will live on with it.

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