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Tour de France classification explainer

There’s more than one way to win the Tour de France. Here are all the different awards on offer, and how to win them.

Prince Frederik of Denmark receives a yellow jersey from Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the official presentation of the 2022 Tour de France cycling race, in Paris, on October 14, 2021. Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images

You’ve probably heard of the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, but that’s just one of many jerseys available to the race leaders at Le Tour. And while the maillot jaune is the most famous, there are plenty of other ways to win at the world's biggest bicycle race.

The yellow goes to the leader of the “general classification” or “GC” after the previous day's stage. While this is the most prestigious and is an individual prize, remember cycling is very much a team sport with only an individual being recognized. A maximum of 22 teams, with no more than eight riders each, will start the Tour de France. Therefore, no more than 176 cyclists will start the race.

Green jersey (maillot vert)

This is given to the leader of the points classification and is also known as the “sprinters jersey” because the points race is designed to favor the best sprinters in Le Tour.

Sprinters get points for crossing a designated threshold first, and one of those thresholds is always the finish line. The easier the stage, the more points are on offer for crossing first. 50 points are on offer at the end of an easy stage for the winner, but a finish at the top of a mountain stage that number drops to just 20 points.

The first 15 riders will receive points across any intermediate sprint checkpoint or stage finish line. For an easy stage, that goes 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. For a harder stage, it’s 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Red polka dot jersey (maillot blanc à pois rouge)

This is for the best climber classification, or the “king of the mountains” for the race. Unlike the sprints, a maximum of eight riders will receive points for being the first to ascend to a summit. And remember this is for all major hills, not just those at the finish line.

Each hill or mountain in the Tour de France is placed into one of five categories based on difficulty. The toughest mountains will score 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2 points, respectively, for first eight riders across. But that can fall to just one point to only the first rider for the smallest of hills.

White jersey (maillot blanc)

This is for the best rider in the general classification that is under the age of 25. Riders will need to be born after January 1, 1998 to wear this jersey in 2023.

Yellow team numbers (le dossards jaune)

The best three times for each team on each day are added up to place each team in the Team Classification race. The team currently in the lead wears their race numbers with a yellow background instead of the usual white, signaling they are the No. 1 team even if they don’t have the No. 1 rider in the GC.