Colors of the Peloton
Yellow, polka dot, green and white. The defining colors of cycling’s greatest race. The one hundred and third riding of Tour de France will begin Saturday, July 2nd in Mont Saint-Michel, France. The world’s most historic and prestigious bike race will test cycling’s elite as they compete in a 3 week, 2,200 mile race over 21 stages. While the peloton will don numerous colorful jerseys from twenty-two different teams, there are four colors to watch out for.
Yellow – The Overall Winner
In a race that’s history extends 100 years, almost all of them have been defined by yellow. The yellow jersey or the “maillot jaune” has been awarded to the best rider in the Tour since 1919. Originating from the Tour’s newspaper sponsor, L’auto, which was printed on yellow paper, the yellow jersey helped riders identify the leader in the peloton. This year, all eyes will be on two- time champion and last year’s yellow jersey winner, Chris Froome. Froome will attempt back-to-back Tour victories for the first time since 1995. Watch for Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte.
Green – Sprints Classification Winner
While the overall leader in the tour will wear yellow, the leader in the sprints classification will wear green. The green jersey or the “maillot vert” was introduced in 1953 as a celebration of the Tour’s 50th anniversary and to show off a lead sponsor who produced lawn mowers. It brought new interest to the Tour as the yellow jersey was no longer the only jersey in contention and not all riders were built for the demands of the GC. Already with a number of big results this year, look for world champion and four-time winner of the green jersey, Peter Sagan, to contend for a fifth in this year’s tour.
Polka Dot – King of the Mountains
The “King of the Mountains” is the rider that wears the polka dot and is the leader of the points competition in the mountain stages. The riders receive points based on their performance during key climbs in the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees. The King of the Mountains competition has been a part of the Tour since 1905. In 1975, the “King of the Mountains” was iconized with a white jersey with red polka dots. Since then, it has seen very little variation in style from the original jersey, and remains a coveted symbol for riders and fans alike.
White – Best Young Rider
Finally, the white jersey is awarded to the best riders in the Tour under the age of 26. The ‘young riders’ classification has been in practice since 1975, however, the white jersey as we know it was introduced into the peloton in the year 2000. The white jersey is an indication of the next generation of great riders; a sneak peek at who will be vying for yellow in the years to come. The white jersey has revealed some of the best talent in the sport including, Alberto Contador in 2007 and Nairo Quintana in 2013 and 2015. This year’s favorite is British rider Adam Yates.
While standings can and will change throughout the race, whoever is wearing these colors on the final stage will be the 2016 Tour de France champions.