That’s actually what all the jerseys mean at the Tour de France

Cycling’s greatest test begins today as the field prepares to head to Paris for the 2022 Tour de France – but what do all the different jerseys mean? What is the difference between polka dots, white, green and yellow?

The Tour de France yellow jersey is perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols in all of sport.

It’s the one every rider dreams of when the peloton swings down the Champs-Élysées in Paris for their lap of honor to be officially declared the winner.

But why should a rider be given the honor of wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France?

What do the other three jerseys mean and what does a rider have to do to get the white, green or polka dot jersey?

Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

What the jerseys mean in the Tour de France

The most iconic jersey of the Tour de France is the yellow one.

This is awarded to the rider who leads the overall standings at the end of each stage of the Tour.

Since the race is calculated on time, this means that the winner of a stage does not necessarily have to receive the yellow jersey.

For example, let’s say the winner finishes 23 seconds ahead of the rider in the yellow jersey, who finishes eighth.

The stage winner takes 23 seconds off the yellow jersey wearer, who is still eight seconds ahead of the stage winner with a 31 second lead.

Whoever wears the yellow jersey after the 20th stage of the Tour de France will be the winner.

The 21st and final stage is a procession to Paris, with the final order already set.

Green and white jerseys

Like the yellow jersey, the green and white jerseys in the Tour de France are calculated based on total time rather than points or final placing.

The green jersey is awarded to the rider who leads the points classification after each stage – it’s sometimes called the sprinter’s jersey – and Mark Cavendish wins it in 2021.

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

It combines a mix of skills including flat sprint speed for a strong overall rider.

The white jersey is awarded to the best young rider of the tour.

To qualify, you must be the overall classification leader under the age of 25.

In 2021, Tadej Pogacar won the white jersey in addition to the yellow jersey.

Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images

The polka dot jersey

The last of the main jerseys in the Tour de France is the polka dot.

A white jersey with red polka dots is awarded to the rider who is the best on the mountain stages.

He is known as the “King of the Mountains”.

Whoever gets to the top of the mountain first gets points that add up to a leader who then gets a jersey.

Teams will employ specialists for the mountain stages, with overall race contenders like Pogacar not in contention.

Typically, the polka dot jersey goes to small, fast, and powerful riders in the Tour de France.

Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

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Zack Zwiezen

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