Mountains classification in the Tour de France

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Polka dot jersey
The 2013 polka dot jersey, worn by Pierre Rolland
SportRoad bicycle racing
CompetitionTour de France
Awarded forBest climber
Local nameMaillot à pois rouges (French)
First award1933 (jersey since 1975)
Editions82 (as of 2021)
First winner Vicente Trueba (ESP)
Most wins Richard Virenque (FRA)
7 wins
Most recent Giulio Ciccone (ITA)

The mountains classification is a secondary competition in the Tour de France, that started in 1933. It is given to the rider that gains the most points for reaching mountain summits first. The leader of the classification is named the King of the Mountains, and since 1975 wears the polka dot jersey (French: maillot à pois rouges), a white jersey with red polka dots.


Ide Schelling in the 2021 polka dot jersey

The first Tour de France crossed no mountain passes, but several lesser cols. The first was the col des Echarmeaux (712 m (2,336 ft)), on the opening stage from Paris to Lyon, on what is now the old road from Autun to Lyon. The stage from Lyon to Marseille included the col de la République (1,161 m (3,809 ft)), also known as the col du Grand Bois, at the edge of St-Etienne. The first major climb—the Ballon d'Alsace (1,178 m (3,865 ft)) in the Vosges[1] — was featured in the 1905 race.

True mountains were not included until the Pyrenees in 1910. In that year the race rode, or more walked[citation needed], first the col d'Aubisque and then the nearby Tourmalet. Both climbs were mule tracks, a demanding challenge on heavy, ungeared bikes ridden by men with spare tires around their shoulders and their food, clothing and tools in bags hung from their handlebars. The assistant organiser, Victor Breyer, stood at the summit of the Aubisque with the colleague who had proposed including the Pyrenees, Alphonse Steinès.[2] The tour organiser, Henri Desgrange was confident enough after the Pyrenees to include the Alps in 1911.[3]

The highest climb in the race was the Cime de la Bonette-Restefond in the 1962 Tour de France, reaching 2802 m.[4] The highest mountain finish in the Tour was at the Col du Galibier in the 2011 edition.[5]

Since 1905, the organising newspaper l'Auto named one cyclist of the Tour de France the meilleur grimpeur (best climber).[6] In 1933, Vicente Trueba was the winner of this classification. In order to recognize climbers, the Tour de France director, Henri Desgrange, decided that cyclists should receive a bonus for reaching the tops first. From 1934 on, the gap between the first and the second cyclist to reach the top was given as a time bonus to the one reaching the top first. These time bonuses were later removed, but the King of the Mountain recognition remained.[7] Although the best climber was first recognised in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975, as the sponsor, Chocolat Poulain, wanted to enhance the visibility of the jersey in the peloton.[8] The Tour's organizer Félix Lévitan decided to use the jersey used by the cyclist Henri Lemoine as a tribute to him. As a consequence, the sponsor, Chocolat Poulain, decided to change its wrappings of chocolate bars and covered them in a polka dot wrapper.[9]

The first rider to ever wear the Polka Dot Jersey, during the 1975 Tour de France, was Joop Zoetemelk, and while he never won the King of the Mountains competition in the Tour De France he is considered to be one of the greatest climbers in Tour de France history.[citation needed] Zoetemelk did win the mountains classification in the 1971 Vuelta a España, as well as the general classification in the 1979 Vuelta a España and the 1980 Tour de France.


The polka dots originate from sponsor Chocolat Poulain. Between 1993 and 2018, the jersey was sponsored by Carrefour supermarkets, initially under the Champion brand, and later under the main Carrefour brand from the 2009 edition of the Tour.[10] Since 2019, the jersey is sponsored by E.Leclerc supermarkets.[11]

Jerseys ranking[edit]

The polka dot jersey is the third most important jersey in the Tour de France, third to yellow and green jerseys.[12][13] If a rider is the leader in the general and/or points classifications and in the mountain classification he will wear the yellow or green jersey. The second rider (or the following eligible rider) in the mountain classification will wear polka dot jersey with some exceptions:

  • If the second rider also leads the young rider classification, he will wear the white jersey (for example if rider A is first in both the general and mountain classification and rider B is second in the mountain classification but also the leader in young rider classification, then rider A will wear wear the yellow jersey and rider B will wear the white jersey);[14][15]
  • If the second rider is world champion he will wear the rainbow jersey. If the rider is a continental champion or national champion he will wear the corresponding jersey;[16][17]

In both case the third rider (or the following eligible rider) will be in polka dot jersey.

Current situation[edit]

At the top of many climbs in the Tour, there are points for the riders who are first over the top. The climbs are divided into categories from 1 (most difficult) to 4 (least difficult) based on their difficulty, measured as a function of their steepness, length, location within the stage (near the start or end), and location in the overall race (early in the race or toward the end). A few of the toughest climbs were originally given different individual points scales, and were thus listed as "uncategorised" (Hors catégorie, a term that has since passed into the French language to refer to any exceptional phenomenon); however, since the 1980s, the hors catégorie climbs have been merged into the single scale and have effectively become, despite the name, just a top category above category 1. In 2004, the scoring system was changed such that the first rider over a fourth category climb would be awarded 3 points while the first to complete a hors catégorie climb would be awarded 20 points. Further points over a fourth category climb are only for the top three places while on a hors catégorie climb the top ten riders are rewarded. From 2004 to 2021, points scored on the final climb of the day were doubled where that climb was at least a second category climb.[18] In 2022 and 2023, mountain-top finishes were worth the same number of points as any other climb.[19]

Distribution of points[edit]

The points gained by consecutive riders reaching a mountain top are distributed according to the following classification:

For 2020, "Double points will be awarded at the top of passes or at the finish of stage 17 at Méribel Col de la Loze, the highest peak in the 2020 Tour (2,304 masl)".[20] The organisation of the race determines which mountains are included for the mountains classification and in which category they are.

If two riders have an equal number of points, the rider with the most first places on the hors catégorie cols, is declared winner. If the riders arrived first an equal number of times, the first places on the 1st category cols are compared. Should the two riders again have an equal number of first arrivals in this category, the organization looks at mutual results in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th category, until a winner is found. If the number of first arrivals in all categories is equal for both riders, the rider with the highest position in the overall list of rankings receives the mountain jersey.

Up until 2011 the points that are gained by climbing the mountains were distributed according to the following classification:

  • Hors Catégorie climbs: 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st to the 10th rider to climb the mountain
  • First category climbs: 15, 13, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st to the 8th rider to climb the mountain
  • Second category climbs: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st to the 6th rider to climb the mountain
  • Third category climbs and hills: 4, 3, 2 and 1 point, respectively for the 1st to the 4th rider to climb the hill
  • Fourth category climbs and hills: 3, 2, and 1 point, respectively for the 1st to the 3rd rider to climb the hill.

Criticism of the system[edit]

The system has faced criticism. Six-time winner Lucien Van Impe said in 2010 that the mountain jersey has been devalued, because it goes to cyclists who have no hope of winning the general classification and are therefore allowed to escape and gather points in breakaways by the general classification contenders. According to Van Impe, focusing on the mountain classification was started by cyclists such as Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque, but compared to modern mountain classification specialists, "they could really climb, and they could win sprints on hors category climbs or even win the stage".[21] However, in 2020, 2021, and 2022, the mountain classification winner also won the general classification.


Meilleurs grimpeurs (top climbers)[edit]

This list shows the cyclists who were chosen meilleur grimpeur by the newspaper L'Auto. Although L'Auto was organising the Tour de France, the meilleur grimpeur title was not given by the tour organisation, so it is unofficial. However, it is a direct predecessor of the later King of the Mountains title. [22][23]

Year Country Rider Team
1905  France René Pottier
1906  France René Pottier
1907  France Emile Georget
1908  France Gustave Garrigou
1909  Luxembourg François Faber
1910  France Octave Lapize
1911  France Paul Duboc
1912  Belgium Odiel Defraeye
1913  Belgium Philippe Thys
1914  Belgium Firmin Lambot
1919  France Honoré Barthélemy
1920  Belgium Firmin Lambot
1921  Belgium Hector Heusghem
1922  France Jean Alavoine
1923  France Henri Pélissier
1924  Italy Ottavio Bottecchia
1925  Italy Ottavio Bottecchia
1926  Belgium Lucien Buysse
1927  Italy Giovanni-Michele Gordini
1928  France Victor Fontan
1929  France Victor Fontan
1930  France Benoît Fauré
1931  Belgium Joseph Demuysere
1932  Spain Vicente Trueba

Mountains classification[edit]

Year Country Rider Team
1933  Spain Vicente Trueba Touriste-routier
1934  France René Vietto France
1935  Belgium Félicien Vervaecke Belgium
1936  Spain Julián Berrendero Spain–Luxembourg
1937  Belgium Félicien Vervaecke Belgium
1938  Italy Gino Bartali Italy
1939  Belgium Sylvère Maes Belgium
1947  Italy Pierre Brambilla Italy
1948  Italy Gino Bartali Italy
1949  Italy Fausto Coppi Italy
1950  France Louison Bobet France
1951  France Raphaël Géminiani France
1952  Italy Fausto Coppi Italy
1953  Spain Jesús Loroño Spain
1954  Spain Federico Bahamontes Spain
1955  Luxembourg Charly Gaul Luxembourg–Mixed
1956  Luxembourg Charly Gaul Luxembourg–Mixed
1957  Italy Gastone Nencini Italy
1958  Spain Federico Bahamontes Spain
1959  Spain Federico Bahamontes Spain
1960  Italy Imerio Massignan Italy
1961  Italy Imerio Massignan Italy
1962  Spain Federico Bahamontes Margnat–Paloma–D'Alessandro
1963  Spain Federico Bahamontes Margnat–Paloma–Dunlop
1964  Spain Federico Bahamontes Margnat–Paloma–Dunlop
1965  Spain Julio Jimenez Kas–Kaskol
1966  Spain Julio Jimenez Ford France–Hutchinson
1967  Spain Julio Jimenez Spain
1968  Spain Aurelio Gonzalez Spain
1969  Belgium Eddy Merckx Faema
1970  Belgium Eddy Merckx Faemino–Faema
1971  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Sonolor–Lejeune
1972  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Sonolor–Lejeune
1973  Spain Pedro Torres La Casera–Peña Bahamontes
1974  Spain Domingo Perurena Kas–Kaskol
1975  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Gitane–Campagnolo
1976  Italy Giancarlo Bellini Brooklyn
1977  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Lejeune–BP
1978  France Mariano Martínez Jobo–Spidel–La Roue d'Or
1979  Italy Giovanni Battaglin Inoxpran
1980  France Raymond Martin Miko–Mercier–Vivagel
1981  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Boston–Mavic
1982  France Bernard Vallet La Redoute–Motobécane
1983  Belgium Lucien Van Impe Metauro Mobili–Pinarello
1984  Great Britain Robert Millar Peugeot–Shell–Michelin
1985  Colombia Luis Herrera Varta–Café de Colombia–Mavic
1986  France Bernard Hinault La Vie Claire
1987  Colombia Luis Herrera Café de Colombia–Varta
1988  Netherlands Steven Rooks PDM–Ultima–Concorde
1989  Netherlands Gert-Jan Theunisse PDM–Ultima–Concorde
1990  France Thierry Claveyrolat RMO
1991  Italy Claudio Chiappucci Carrera Jeans–Tassoni
1992  Italy Claudio Chiappucci Carrera Jeans–Vagabond
1993   Switzerland Tony Rominger CLAS–Cajastur
1994  France Richard Virenque Festina–Lotus
1995  France Richard Virenque Festina–Lotus
1996  France Richard Virenque Festina–Lotus
1997  France Richard Virenque Festina–Lotus
1998  France Christophe Rinero Cofidis
1999  France Richard Virenque Team Polti
2000  Colombia Santiago Botero Kelme–Costa Blanca
2001  France Laurent Jalabert CSC–Tiscali
2002  France Laurent Jalabert CSC–Tiscali
2003  France Richard Virenque Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004  France Richard Virenque Quick-Step–Davitamon
2005  Denmark Michael Rasmussen Rabobank
2006  Denmark Michael Rasmussen Rabobank
2007  Colombia Mauricio Soler Barloworld
2008  Spain Bernhard Kohl Carlos Sastre CSC–Saxo Bank
2009  Spain Franco Pellizotti Egoi Martínez Euskaltel–Euskadi
2010  France Anthony Charteau Bbox Bouygues Telecom
2011  Spain Samuel Sánchez Euskaltel–Euskadi
2012  France Thomas Voeckler Team Europcar
2013  Colombia Nairo Quintana Movistar Team
2014  Poland Rafał Majka Tinkoff–Saxo
2015  Great Britain Chris Froome Team Sky
2016  Poland Rafał Majka Tinkoff
2017  France Warren Barguil Team Sunweb
2018  France Julian Alaphilippe Quick-Step Floors
2019  France Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale
2020  Slovenia Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates
2021  Slovenia Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates
2022  Denmark Jonas Vingegaard Team Jumbo–Visma
2023  Italy Giulio Ciccone Lidl–Trek

Repeat winners[edit]

Rank Name Country Wins Years
1 Richard Virenque  France 7 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004
2 Federico Bahamontes  Spain 6 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964
Lucien Van Impe  Belgium 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983
4 Julio Jiménez  Spain 3 1965, 1966, 1967
5 Felicien Vervaecke  Belgium 2 1935, 1937
Gino Bartali  Italy 1938, 1948
Fausto Coppi  Italy 1949, 1952
Charly Gaul  Luxembourg 1955, 1956
Imerio Massignan  Italy 1960, 1961
Eddy Merckx  Belgium 1969, 1970
Luis Herrera  Colombia 1985, 1987
Claudio Chiappucci  Italy 1991, 1992
Laurent Jalabert  France 2001, 2002
Michael Rasmussen  Denmark 2005, 2006
Rafał Majka  Poland 2014, 2016
Tadej Pogačar  Slovenia 2020, 2021

By nationality[edit]

Rank Country Wins Riders winning most Most recent winner
1  France 23 Richard Virenque (7) Romain Bardet (2019)
2  Spain 18 Federico Bahamontes (6) Samuel Sánchez (2011)
3  Italy 13 Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Imerio Massignan, Claudio Chiappucci (2 each) Giulio Ciccone (2023)
4  Belgium 11 Lucien Van Impe (6) Lucien Van Impe (1983)
5  Colombia 5 Luis Herrera (2) Nairo Quintana (2013)
6  Denmark 3 Michael Rasmussen (2) Jonas Vingegaard (2022)
7  Luxembourg 2 Charly Gaul (2) Charly Gaul (1956)
 Netherlands Steven Rooks, Gert-Jan Theunisse Gert-Jan Theunisse (1989)
 United Kingdom Robert Millar, Chris Froome Chris Froome (2015)
 Poland Rafał Majka (2) Rafał Majka (2016)
 Slovenia Tadej Pogačar (2) Tadej Pogačar (2021)
12   Switzerland 1 Tony Rominger Tony Rominger (1993)

Winners of the general and mountain classification in the same year[edit]

Some cyclists have won both the general classification and the mountains classification in the same year. In the early years of the Tour, only the highest mountains gave points. Cyclists aiming for the Tour win generally did well on those mountains, so the riders high in the general classification were typically also high in the mountains classification, which made the double more likely. Later, the rules of the mountains classification changed, giving more points to mountains of lower category. The cyclists aiming to win the general classification did not spend energy on those lower category mountains, and thus other cyclists could aim for the mountains classification win. In 1969, Eddy Merckx won not only the general classification and the mountains classification, but also the points classification.

The general classification and the mountain classification were won by the same rider twelve times, by eight different cyclists:

Days in polka dot jersey[edit]

after the end of 2023 Tour de France

The classification existed since 1933. The polka dot jersey was issued since the 1975.

Rider After 1975 Total since 1933
France Richard Virenque 96 96
Belgium Lucien Van Impe 74 94
Spain Federico Bahamontes 0 77
Spain Julio Jimenez 0 43
Belgium Eddy Merckx 0 40
Spain Domingo Perurena 0 30
Italy Gino Bartali 0 30
Italy Claudio Chiappucci 27 27
Denmark Michael Rasmussen 27 27
Belgium Félicien Vervaecke 0 27
Colombia Luis Herrera 26 26

Riders leaders in all stages of an edition[edit]

Before 1975[edit]

In some editions the Mountain Classification, without a distinctive jersey, was not compiled in the first stages (no points awarded in the first stages). Some riders led for all the stages after the first points were awarded:

Belgium Félicien Vervaecke 1935 (first stage awarding points: 4th stage)

Italy Gino Bartali 1938 (first stage awarding points: 8th stage)

Italy Fausto Coppi 1949 (first stage awarding points: 11th stage)

Spain Federico Bahamontes 1954 (first stage awarding points: 11th stage)

Spain Federico Bahamontes 1958 (first stage awarding points: 13th stage)

Spain Federico Bahamontes 1963 (first stage awarding points: 10th stage)

After 1975[edit]

No riders wore the jersey in all stages of a single edition. Lucien Van Impe in 1977 wore it in most stages in a single edition: 25 of the 28 stages (but the jersey was not issued in the prologue). Bernard Vallet in 1982 lead the classification in all 21 numbered stages but not after the prologue.


  1. ^ Woodland 2000, p. 38.
  2. ^ McGann & McGann 2006, p. 29.
  3. ^ Woodland 2000, p. 43.
  4. ^ Woodland 2007, p. 273.
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  6. ^ "Tour - WielerArchieven". Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
  7. ^ "Tour Xtra: Polka Dot Jersey". Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  8. ^ "Tour de France 2023 : pourquoi le maillot du meilleur grimpeur est blanc à pois rouges". LEFIGARO (in French). 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  9. ^ "Tour Xtra: Polka Dot Jersey". Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  10. ^ Vergouwen, Thomas (23 April 2009). "For Carrefour the Tour already started!". Retrieved 2022-03-30.
  11. ^ Gary (2018-09-18). "E.Leclerc takes on polka-dot jersey sponsorship at Le Tour". Retrieved 2022-03-30.
  12. ^ "Tour de France RULES AND REGULATIONS" (PDF). 8 July 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023. There is an established order of priority for the different leaders' jerseys: the yellow jersey, followed by the green jersey, then the red polka-dot jersey and finally the white jersey
  13. ^ "UCI CYCLING REGULATIONS - PART 2 ROAD RACES" (PDF). 2023-06-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2023-06-30. Retrieved 2023-07-24. 2.6.018 - [...] If a rider is leading more than one classification, the order of priority of the distinctive jerseys shall be as follows: 1. general classification by time; 2. general classification by points; 3. general climber's classification; 4. others (young rider, combined, etc.); the order of priority among these other jerseys shall be set by the organiser.
  14. ^ "Tour de France RULES AND REGULATIONS" (PDF). 8 July 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023. When a rider is leading several classifications, he naturally only wears one jersey: the one designated by the order of priority. The other jerseys are then worn by the riders lying 2nd, 3rd or 4th in the corresponding classification
  15. ^ "UCI CYCLING REGULATIONS - PART 2 ROAD RACES" (PDF). 2023-06-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2023-06-30. Retrieved 2023-07-24. 2.6.018 - [...] If a rider is leading more than one classification, the order of priority of the distinctive jerseys shall be as follows: 1. general classification by time; 2. general classification by points; 3. general climber's classification; 4. others (young rider, combined, etc.); the order of priority among these other jerseys shall be set by the organiser.
  16. ^ "Tour de France RULES AND REGULATIONS" (PDF). 8 July 2023. Retrieved 8 July 2023. However, if this rider is required to wear his world, continental or national champion's jersey, then he will wear this jersey
  17. ^ "UCI CYCLING REGULATIONS - PART 2 ROAD RACES" (PDF). 2023-06-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2023-06-30. Retrieved 2023-07-24. 2.6.018 - [...] In this situation, the organiser may require another rider next on the relevant classification to wear a jersey which is not being worn by the leader of that classification. However, if this rider must wear his world or national champion's jersey, or the leader's jersey of a UCI cup, circuit, series or classification, he shall wear that jersey.
  18. ^ "Regulations of the race" (PDF). ASA/ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-05. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  19. ^ Banqueri, Raul. "The Ultimate Guide to the Tour de France 2022 King of the Monutains Competition". Lantern Rouge. Lanterne Rouge Media, SL. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  20. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-09-30. Retrieved 2020-09-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Atkins, Ben (22 July 2010). "Tour de France: Lucien Van Impe criticises polka dot mountains jersey classification". Velonation. Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  22. ^ "Tour - Pagina 3 - WielerArchieven". Archived from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
  23. ^ "Tour-Giro-Vuelta". Archived from the original on 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2009-09-28.


External links[edit]

Media related to Mountains classification in the Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons