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
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)


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 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.[11]

Distribution of pointsEdit

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 systemEdit

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 classificationEdit

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 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
Tadej Pogačar   Slovenia 2020, 2021

By nationalityEdit

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 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 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.
  11. ^ "Regulations of the race" (PDF). ASA/ Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-05. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
  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 linksEdit

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