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
Given forBest climber
Local nameMaillot à pois rouges  (French)
First award1933 (jersey since 1975)
Editions78 (as of 2018)
First winner Vicente Trueba (ESP)
Most wins Richard Virenque (FRA)
7 times
Most recent Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)

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.


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. The colours were decided by the then sponsor, Chocolat Poulain, whose chocolate bars were covered in a polka dot wrapper.[8] 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. Since 2019, the jersey is sponsored by E.Leclerc supermarkets.

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 Espana, as well as the general classification in the 1979 Vuelta a Espana and the 1980 Tour de France.

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.[9]

Distribution of points[edit]

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

The points for a mountain top finish are doubled, if that mountain is an HC, 1C or 2C. 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]

In recent years, the system has had some criticism. Six-time winner Lucien Van Impe said 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.[11]


Meilleurs grimpeurs[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 Mountain King title. [12][13]

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

Mountains classification[edit]

Rider Team
1933 Spain Vicente Trueba (ESP) Touriste-routier
1934 France René Vietto (FRA) France
1935 Belgium Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium
1936 Spain Julián Berrendero (ESP) Spain–Luxembourg
1937 Belgium Félicien Vervaecke (BEL) Belgium
1938 Italy Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy
1939 Belgium Sylvère Maes (BEL) Belgium
1947 Italy Pierre Brambilla (ITA) Italy
1948 Italy Gino Bartali (ITA) Italy
1949 Italy Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy
1950 France Louison Bobet (FRA) France
1951 France Raphaël Géminiani (FRA) France
1952 Italy Fausto Coppi (ITA) Italy
1953 Spain Jesús Loroño (ESP) Spain
1954 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Spain
1955 Luxembourg Charly Gaul (LUX) Luxembourg–Mixed
1956 Luxembourg Charly Gaul (LUX) Luxembourg–Mixed
1957 Italy Gastone Nencini (ITA) Italy
1958 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Spain
1959 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Spain
1960 Italy Imerio Massignan (ITA) Italy
1961 Italy Imerio Massignan (ITA) Italy
1962 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Margnat–Paloma–D'Alessandro
1963 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Margnat–Paloma–Dunlop
1964 Spain Federico Bahamontes (ESP) Margnat–Paloma–Dunlop
1965 Spain Julio Jimenez (ESP) Kas–Kaskol
1966 Spain Julio Jimenez (ESP) Ford France–Hutchinson
1967 Spain Julio Jimenez (ESP) Spain
1968 Spain Aurelio Gonzalez (ESP) Spain
1969 Belgium Eddy Merckx (BEL) Faema
1970 Belgium Eddy Merckx (BEL) Faemino–Faema
1971 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune
1972 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Sonolor–Lejeune
1973 Spain Pedro Torres (ESP) La Casera–Peña Bahamontes
1974 Spain Domingo Perurena (ESP) Kas–Kaskol
1975 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Gitane–Campagnolo
1976 Italy Giancarlo Bellini (ITA) Brooklyn
1977 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Lejeune–BP
1978 France Mariano Martínez (FRA) Jobo–Spidel–La Roue d'Or
1979 Italy Giovanni Battaglin (ITA) Inoxpran
1980 France Raymond Martin (FRA) Miko–Mercier–Vivagel
1981 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Boston–Mavic
1982 France Bernard Vallet (FRA) La Redoute–Motobécane
1983 Belgium Lucien Van Impe (BEL) Metauro Mobili–Pinarello
1984 United Kingdom Robert Millar (GBR) Peugeot–Shell–Michelin
1985 Colombia Luis Herrera (COL) Varta–Café de Colombia–Mavic
1986 France Bernard Hinault (FRA) La Vie Claire
1987 Colombia Luis Herrera (COL) Café de Colombia–Varta
1988 Netherlands Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Ultima–Concorde
1989 Netherlands Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) PDM–Concorde
1990 France Thierry Claveyrolat (FRA) RMO
1991 Italy Claudio Chiappucci (ITA) Carrera Jeans–Tassoni
1992 Italy Claudio Chiappucci (ITA) Carrera Jeans–Vagabond
1993 Switzerland Tony Rominger (SUI) CLAS–Cajastur
1994 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Festina–Lotus
1995 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Festina–Lotus
1996 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Festina–Lotus
1997 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Festina–Lotus
1998 France Christophe Rinero (FRA) Cofidis
1999 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Team Polti
2000 Colombia Santiago Botero (COL) Kelme–Costa Blanca
2001 France Laurent Jalabert (FRA) CSC–Tiscali
2002 France Laurent Jalabert (FRA) CSC–Tiscali
2003 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004 France Richard Virenque (FRA) Quick-Step–Davitamon
2005 Denmark Michael Rasmussen (DEN) Rabobank
2006 Denmark Michael Rasmussen (DEN) Rabobank
2007 Colombia Mauricio Soler (COL) Barloworld
2008 Spain Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC–Saxo Bank
2009 Italy Franco Pellizotti[n 1] (ITA) Liquigas
2010 France Anthony Charteau (FRA) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
2011 Spain Samuel Sánchez (ESP) Euskaltel–Euskadi
2012 France Thomas Voeckler (FRA) Team Europcar
2013 Colombia Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar Team
2014 Poland Rafał Majka (POL) Tinkoff–Saxo
2015 United Kingdom Chris Froome (GBR) Team Sky
2016 Poland Rafał Majka (POL) Tinkoff
2017 France Warren Barguil (FRA) Team Sunweb
2018 France Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Quick-Step Floors

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

By nationality[edit]

Rank Country Wins Riders winning most Most recent winner
1  France 22 Richard Virenque (7) Julian Alaphilippe (2018)
2  Spain 17 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 2 Michael Rasmussen (2) Michael Rasmussen (2006)
 Luxembourg 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)
11   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 ten times, by seven different cyclists:


  1. ^ In March 2011, Franco Pellizotti's results were removed after the Court of Arbitration for Sport found his biological passport indicated irregular values. The classification standings were not altered.[14]


  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".
  7. ^ "Tour Xtra: Polka Dot Jersey".
  8. ^ "Tour Xtra: Polka Dot Jersey".
  9. ^ "Regulations of the race" (PDF). ASA/ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-05. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  10. ^ "Bonifications, classements, chutes et délais : ce que dit le règlement du Tour de France". L'Équipe. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  11. ^ Atkins, Ben (22 July 2010). "Tour de France: Lucien Van Impe criticises polka dot mountains jersey classification". Velonation. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Tour - Pagina 3 - WielerArchieven".
  13. ^ Tour-Giro-Vuelta
  14. ^ "Italian cyclist Franco Pellizotti found guilty of doping by Court of Arbitration for Sport". 9 March 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2012.


External links[edit]

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