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Tour de France Polka Dot Jersey
The King of the Mountain in the Greatest Cycling Race
The Tour de France is widely regarded as the greatest and most prestigious cycling race in the world. Contested each year for three-weeks, 21 teams consisting of 9 riders race over 2,000 miles through France and sometimes adjoining countries. Each day is a new stage that can be contested for an individual win.
There are four jerseys awarded in the Tour: Yellow, for the overall winner based on time. Green for the one who collects the most points, typically regarded as a sprinters competition. White for the youngest rider with the fastest overall time and polka dot for the the rider who collects the most points in the mountain classification giving him the honor of King of the Mountain.
Photo credit to Chris Beckett via Flickr
Uphill Race to Collect Some Points
The polka dot jersey competition is a competition within the whole of the Tour de France. Points are awarded along most each day's race course to those who climb a specific incline first. It does not have to be a massive alpine mountain for points to be awarded either.
Race organizers assign points to be awarded on various hills and mountains along the course. For instance, sometimes the first racers to climb a small hill on that day's stage can gain a points 3-2-1. In a mountain top finish in a high category climb riders placing 1-10 can get 25 to 2 points.
The interesting thing about the polka dot jersey is some guys go strictly for king of the mountain points. It is possible to scoop up points along a long hilly stage and remain in the jersey without ever really contesting a true mountain stage win. There is a lot of strategy for those men that hope to wear the jersey.
Some guys pursue the king of the mountain in the flat early stages by being in so-called breakaways and grabbing the early race points. They may only have a couple of points but it will be enough for them to stay in the jersey until the true mountain stages. The prestige for the rider and his team is enough to try to get someone in the jersey and hold it for as long as possible.
During longer mountain stages, the polka dot jersey hopefuls will try to get in an early breakaway and grab the intermediate points along the race route, if possible. They will try to hold on to the finish but typically these breaks are caught and someone else will win the stage. But for those going for the polka dot jersey they might be able to collect enough points to stay in the lead.
Typical Mountain Stage Profile
This is a a typical profile of a mountain stage in the Tour de France. The numbers and "HC" listed are what classification the peak is. 4 is the lowest classified mountain all the way down to 1 being the hardest...with a twist. "HC" refers to a mountain being Hors catÃ©gorie. The mountain peak is so steep that it cannot be classified. The first over HC climbs receives the maximum number of points which is 25. A rider first over the 1st category climb receives 10 points. Rider finishing first on 2nd category climb receives 5 points.
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