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White Jersey: Reward for Future Legends

By We Love Cycling

Yellow is the color of the most famous cycling race in the world – the golden maillot jaune is the Holy Grail and the most sought-after reward for the man who wins the grueling journey of the Tour de France. But it`s white, the color of innocent youth, which very often prefigures who will be the future champions of the most demanding stage race. In the Tour de France, the white jersey is the garment for cycling`s next bright stars. It is awarded to the best young cyclists under the age of 26.

The reward for future legends is sponsored by the car brand ŠKODA.

(White jersey with logos of Škoda. Source: skoda-auto.com)

A brief list of names of the previous white jersey winners speaks for itself: Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond, Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich, Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck. These men managed to win the white jersey and later (sometimes even in the same year) also acquire the coveted yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Although not as prestigous as the maillot jaune, to become the Best Young Rider of Le Grande Boucle wearing the white jersey remains one of the highest honors for the racers.

“Young riders are promising. Their results have even bigger value because of their age. That`s what we acknowledge them,” explains Tomáš Kubík, Communications manager of Škoda AUTO. Škoda is the sponsor for this classification since 2004.

The Sheriff Was the First

The history of the white jersey at Tour de France begins in 1968. During that time, the white jersey was an indication of the leader of the combination classification, which combined results from overall standings and points and climbing competitions. That changed in 1975 when the Best Young Rider Classification was introduced. “The Sheriff” – Italian Francesco Moser, who later went on to win the Giro d`Italia and as well as the road race at the World Road Cylcing Championship – became its first winner.

During that time, rules for this classification were different from the present day. The white jersey was designated for the best neo-professionals (riders who are in their first three years of professional peloton competition). From 1983 until 1987, only the best rookies could fight for it. Four years later, regulations changed again and the present model of the competition has been in effect ever since.

Cycling : 100th Tour de France 2013 / Stage 18

(Nairo Quintana during Tour de France 2013. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

Even though rankings were still calculated, the white jersey disappeared from Tour the France to eleven years (1989–1999). Since 2000, the white jersey has been given to the rider who is the highest in the overall rankings and who is younger than 26 years of age as of January 1st of the next year. According to these new rules, cyclists like Pantani (1994 and 1995), Ullrich (1996–1998) and Schleck (2008–2010) could have won this contest multiple times.

In Honor of Casartelli

Next to the yellow jersey for winner of the race, the green jersey for the best sprinter and the polka-dot jersey for the best climber, the white jersey is a sign for eager youth. But it also serves as a reminder to everybody that young life can be very fragile. The Best Young Rider Classification is named the “Souvenir Fabio Casartelli” in order to honor the promising 24 year old Italian cyclist and Olympic winner who died after a crash in during the 1995 Tour de France.

Jersey as an Advertisement

To win a white jersey is a great reward in many ways. Financially, it brings a bonus of 20 000 euros for the cyclist who earns the title of the Best Young Rider. It is great advertising for every team and their sponsors, since the white jersey attracts attention of fans and cameras, not only throughout the stages, but also at the end of every day when the leader puts the jersey on at the podium. And finally it`s the mark of great young talent. Yellow is the color belonging to legends. White is the color for legends being born!