Here’s a look of the Tour de France jerseys, and how they will be won on the June 30-July 22 race:
For most, the race’s fabled yellow jersey stands above all else, rewarding the rider who completes the race in the lowest overall time. Contenders must possess a combination of skills in climbing and time trialling, but also be strong enough to hold the pace of the peloton when it is being driven through hostile terrain by teams of rivals determined to drop you at every possible opportunity. The main contenders are Australia’s reigning champion Cadel Evans, Briton Bradley Wiggins, 2010 champion Andy Schleck of Luxembourg and Italian Vincenzo Nibali.
The green jersey rewards the rider who wins the race’s points competition, and has been traditionally won by a sprinter. Although most points are traditionally picked up at the finish of the flatter stages, where the sprinters come into their own, the competition has also been won by riders who have shown the most consistency, picking up points where they can. Last year organizers tweaked the points competition rules by including only one, strategically-placed intermediate sprint per stage (as opposed to two of more in previous year) and increasing the points on offer for the first 15 rider over the line. It led to a tight battle between eventual winner Mark Cavendish, Belgian Philippe Gilbert and Spaniard Joaquin Rojas. This year it will be more of the same.
Polka dot jersey
Won by some of the greatest climbers in cycling history, the polka dot jersey rewards the race’s ‘King of the Mountains’ (KOM), the rider who amasses the most points from the numerous categorized climbs throughout the race. Theoretically, the harder the climb, the more points are won. This year, points will be awarded to the first ten riders to crest the highest level mountain passes, while the points will be doubled for the summit finishes, of which there are only two in 2012. Although often won and coveted by pure climbers, as with the green jersey, the most consistent rider usually prevails. Last year’s champion was Spanish Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez.
For the ambitious all-rounders in the race aged 25 and under, winning the white jersey is like winning the yellow jersey. It is awarded to the rider who completes the race in the lowest overall time. Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, the 2010 yellow jersey champion and a former two-time runner-up, has won the white jersey for the past three years. Last year’s winner was Frenchman Pierre Rolland, who is considered a future contender for the yellow jersey.
Most aggressive rider
Although largely a token prize, winning the most aggressive rider’s jersey still gets you a podium appearance once the race finishes on the Champs Elysees in Paris. After every stage, excluding time trials, a panel of journalists vote to decide the day’s most aggressive rider. Not necessarily the stage winner, it could be someone who has attacked most, instigated a breakaway or simply been a major factor in the day’s proceedings. Last year’s winner was FDJ’s young French hope Jeremy Roy.