Open main menu

Mountains classification in the Tour de France

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.

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 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 situationEdit

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 pointsEdit

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 systemEdit

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 grimpeursEdit

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

Mountains classificationEdit

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

Repeat winnersEdit

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 nationalityEdit

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 yearEdit

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 linksEdit

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