Mountains classification in the Tour de France

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Polka dot jersey
Tour de France 20130704 Aix-en-Provence 076.jpg
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 Jonas Vingegaard (DEN)

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, 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. However, Trueba was a very poor descender, so he never gained anything from reaching the tops first. 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, had chocolate bars were covered in a polka dot wrapper.[8]

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.


Between 1993 and 2018, the jersey was sponsored by Carrefour supermarkets, initially under the Champion brand, and later under the main Carrefour brand since the 2009 edition of the Tour.[9] Since 2019, the jersey is sponsored by E.Leclerc supermarkets.[10]

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 in fact the hors catégorie climbs have been given a single points scale and effectively became, 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 was awarded 3 points while the first to complete a hors catégorie climb would win 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. Since 2004, points scored on the final climb of the day have been doubled where that climb was at least a second category climb.[11]

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)".[12] 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 had some 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 to win the general classification so are allowed to escape and gather points in breakaways. This tactic was started by cyclists such as Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque, but according to Van Impe, they were really able to climb.[13] The 2020–2022 winners 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. [14][15]

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

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 12 Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Imerio Massignan, Claudio Chiappucci (2 each) Claudio Chiappucci (1992)
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:


  1. ^ Woodland 2000, p. 38.
  2. ^ McGann & McGann 2006, p. 29.
  3. ^ Woodland 2000, p. 43.
  4. ^ Woodland 2007, p. 273.
  5. ^ Tour de France 2011—The Galibier 1911–2011 Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine. (10 July 1911). Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  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 Xtra: Polka Dot Jersey". Archived from the original on 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  9. ^ Vergouwen, Thomas (23 April 2009). "For Carrefour the Tour already started!". Retrieved 2022-03-30.
  10. ^ Gary (2018-09-18). "E.Leclerc takes on polka-dot jersey sponsorship at Le Tour". Retrieved 2022-03-30.
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  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Tour - Pagina 3 - WielerArchieven". Archived from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
  15. ^ "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