Tour de France: Know your yellows from your greens and your polka dots

France's Pierre Rolland with the white jersey, Spain's Samuel Sanchez with the polka dot jersey, Great Britain's Mark Cavendish with the green jersey and Australia's Cadel Evans with the yellow jersey in 2011

France's Pierre Rolland with the white jersey, Spain's Samuel Sanchez with the polka dot jersey, Great Britain's Mark Cavendish with the green jersey and Australia's Cadel Evans with the yellow jersey in 2011

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For the uninitiated, the famous jerseys of the Tour de France can be a little bewildering, Let us guide you through what each one represents.

YELLOW - Given to the overall race leader, namely the rider who has completed the stages so far in the shortest combined time. The jersey is thought to date back to 1919 and takes its colour from l’Auto, the newspaper owned by race founder and sponsor Henri Desgrange. Eddy ‘the Cannibal’ Merckx wore it for a record 111 days.

GREEN - The next most prestigious jersey is given to the leader in the points classification which rewards sprinters, the riders who can be seen barrelling to the line in a bunch finish. During each stage, points are attributed during the intermediary sprints and at the finish. The jersey was introduced in 1953. Germany’s Erik Zabel won it a record six consecutive times between 1996 and 2001.

POLKA DOT - The King of the Mountains. Like the green jersey, riders succeed in the climbers’ classification by claiming points, in this case for being the first to the top of designated hills and mountains, the greatest number of points being awarded for the hardest ascents. Although the award was introduced in 1933, the distinctive jersey was not introduced until 1975. Scotland’s Robert Millar was King of the Mountains in 1984.

WHITE - Given to the best-placed rider under 25 years old on January 1 of the year the Tour is ridden. The jersey was introduced in 1975. It was abandoned in 1989 but reintroduced in 1999.