100 YEARS OF THE YELLOW JERSEY

SPORT

First Tour

The original race in 1903 took riders on a 2,428 km tour that closely followed the contours of France’s borders. The sixty competing cyclists on the first stage alone were required to cover nearly 470km in one day, and in an age of basic materials.

The punishing race drew a large audience, and it proved that some people are just built to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.

Green Armband

Green Jerseys go to the overall points winner in the tour, as was the case with the race when it started in 1903. The first few Tour De France races used to present its winner with a green armband. Armbands are used to this day signify a connection to a group, association, or the military.

The Armlet or Brassard would be indicated the rank. In this case, the rank would be the winner of the first Tour de France and it was visible to the other riders, so they knew who they had to beat.

Apparently, some riders did not like the armlets colour or size, due to it being difficult to see at night.

The Maillot Jaune

Many possible origins for the Yellow jersey have been rumoured. The Yellow jersey is awarded to the overall leader of the tour and it is still the most sought-after prize of a professional cyclist.

It was not until 1919 that the yellow jersey was introduced. One of the theories is that the jersey was yellow because of the L’Auto, the struggling magazine that organised the event, printed on yellow paper.

A different theory is that Peugeot, a major sponsor of the race, use yellow in their logo and tried to present a jersey promoting the manufacturer’s revolutionary bicycles and motorcycle designs.

Polka-Dot

The red-polka-dot jersey goes the King of the Mountains. Pure white jerseys to the best under the 26-year-old rider. It is possible to win combinations of these jerseys with exception to the Red Lantern.

This is the French version of the wooden spoon, and signifies the red light hanging at the back of a vehicle. As with Formula one, the team can also win Jerseys, and in a similar vein to formula one most people turn off the tv before these are handed out.

Cyril Dessel putting on the combined yellow jersey and polka dot jersey (Tour de France 2006) by Kallenovsky

By the 1920s the stages had been increased from 6 into 15 covering an inconceivable 5,500 km, and reducing the number of rest days between stages, from 3 down to 2.

The longest stage went from Les Sables d’Olonne to Bayonne at a distance of 482 Km. L’Auto seemed to be throwing greater challenges at its riders each year, to push the boundaries of what was possible.

By the 30s the race had increased to 21 stages, reducing the length of each stage, the longest being 322 km, the total course covered 4,822 km. The Tour de France still closely followed the contours of France’s borders and the tradition that people associate with the race.

World War II caused disruption to the sport, as the organiser refused to bow to the Nazi wishes to proceed. The 1942 race that did go ahead, was apparently run under the duress of the Gestapo, and was marred by poor organisation.

By the 50s, the tour had gone back into full swing, with the race still following the border of France, but also crossed into Belgium. Races have since started from Rotterdam, Berlin, making this more of an international race, rather than being purely focused on France.

Yellow Jerseys all round

This year celebrates 100 years of The Maillot Jaune [ Yellow Jersey], as 176 competitors rally to win the 2019 race that will be watched live by 13 million people.

To celebrate, the race will award a personalised yellow jersey to the winner of each stage of the race. Each jersey will be made specific to the stage won and will have a symbol representative of the are the stage goes through.

Tour de France 2018 peloton, stage 9 at Montigny-en-Ostrevent by Felouch Kotek

Belgium

The 2019 Tour De France race will last 3 weeks, cover a gruelling 3,480Km (2162Miles), and take cyclists over 2770metres (1.7Miles), up into the Graian Alps through the Col de l’Iseran, ending in a sprint to Paris.

2019 Tour de France starts with two stages in Belgium, one 120km run from Bruxelles, and the other a 27.5km time-trial to the Brussel Atomium.

The third stage from Binche in Belgium will take the riders over the border to start the French leg of the tour. The race will continue for 3 weeks, up to the Iseran pass, through to the east, followed by a flight to Rambouillet to finish the race in Paris.

Below, are the 23 stages with respective links to the official Tour de France pages for each stage:

 1.  6th  July  194.5km  BRUXELLES > BRUSSEL
 2.  7th  July   27.6km  BRUXELLES PALAIS ROYAL > BRUSSEL ATOMIUM
 3.  8th  July  215.0km  BINCHE > ÉPERNAY
 4.  9th  July  213.5km  REIMS > NANCY
 5.  10th July  175.5km  SAINT-DIÉ-DES-VOSGES > COLMAR
 6.  11th July  160.5km  MULHOUSE > LA PLANCHE DES BELLES FILLES
 7.  12th July  230.0km  BELFORT > CHALON-SUR-SAÔNE
 8.  13th July  200.0km  MÂCON > SAINT-ÉTIENNE
 9.  14th July  170.5km  SAINT-ÉTIENNE > BRIOUDE
 10. 15th July  217.5km  SAINT-FLOUR > ALBI
 11. 16th July  Rest     ALBI
 12. 17th July  167km    ALBI > TOULOUSE 
 13. 18th July  209.5km  TOULOUSE > BAGNÈRES-DE-BIGORRE
 14. 19th July   27.2km  PAU > PAU
 15. 20th July  117.5km  TARBES > TOURMALET BARÈGES
 16. 21st July  185.0km  LIMOUX > FOIX PRAT D'ALBIS
 17. 22nd July  Rest     NÎMES
 18. 23rd July  177.0km  NÎMES > NÎMES
 19. 24th July  200.0km  PONT DU GARD > GAP
 20. 25th July  208.0km  EMBRUN > VALLOIRE
 21. 26th July  126.5km  SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE > TIGNES
 22. 27th July  130.0km  ALBERTVILLE > VAL THORENS
 23. 28th July  128.0km  RAMBOUILLET > PARIS CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES 

Modern Bicycles

Modern bicycles are far beyond the financial reach of the keen amateur, prices are upwards from $10,000 and require a team of mechanics to keep the machine at its full potential.

A Hundred Years

As with all the Tour de France races, the final stage finishes in the capital, Paris. There will be tears of happiness, sadness and a few people will end up in the hospital.

Since the race was created over 100 years ago, manufacturers and doctors have sought to improve the efficiency of the athlete’s muscles.

There is no doubt that with new materials, making the bikes nearly weightless, riders will continue to break speed records. Training techniques are now so finely tuned that, their legs are built purely for peddling.

It is a fascinating time to watch such a race and for those of us that have no experience participating in professional sport, we can only sit back and wonder, ‘How do they do it?’

Buy Your Own

We found some good level Bikes on Amazon, or you can try and buy a pro-bike from Peugeot or Skoda directly for a couple of thousand dollars.

Or if you are feeling really flash, you can buy the Trek Madone SLR 9 Disc eTap with wireless shift control, for five-figures.

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