Yellow, green, white and polka-dot jerseys are awarded to riders during the Tour de France if they lead one of four distinct classifications.

The jersey for each classification is awarded to the leader of that classification at the end of each stage, and the recipient earns the right to wear it during the following day’s stage.

Here we take a brief look at what they are and how they are won.

Alberto Contador, Tour de France 2010, stage 15

Yellow jersey – overall classification leader

The Tour de France yellow jersey is the most coveted item of clothing in professional cycling. The wearer is the rider who has completed the race in the least amount of time, and as such tops the overall or general classification of the race.

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 4 TTT

Green jersey – points classification leader

Points are awarded to riders according to the position that they finish each stage, plus points are also awarded for intermediate sprints during some stages. Stage winners get the most points, with less points awarded to those that cross second, third, etc. The points are then tallied up after each stage and added to points won in all previous stages. The green jersey is awarded to the rider with the most points.

Franco Pellizotti, Tour de France 2009, stage 20

Polka-dot jersey – King of the Mountains classification leader

Mountains points are awarded to riders who crest the Tour de France’s climbs first. The amount of points awarded depends on the severity or ‘category’ of the mountain – the bigger it is, the more points are on offer. The points are tallied up after each stage and added to points won in all previous stages. The distinctive white-with-red-dots jersey is given to the rider with the most mountains points.

Geraint Thomas, Tour de France 2010 stage 5

White jersey – Best young rider classification leader

The least distinctive of all of the classification jerseys – it’s plain white – is awarded to the under-26 rider who has completed the Tour de France in the least amount of time.

Non-jersey classifications

There are two further classifications that do not earn the winner(s) a coloured jersey – the Combativity Award and Team Classification. The Combativity award isn’t a classification as such, as the award is given to a rider who has been deemed by a race jury to have shown ‘fighting spirit’ during each individual stage. However, a ‘Super Combativity’ award is handed out on the final stage. The Team Classification is based on the squad which has collectively completed the race in the least amount of time.

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