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The 100th Tour de France has started and the first yellow shirt goes to German competitor Marcel Kittel. But what does that mean?

The 100th Tour de France

The first stretch of the most watched cycling competition in the world took place not in the French mainland but in Corsica, and island in the Mediterranean sea that is one of the administrative regions of France, with spectacular scenery, craggy mountain roads and sunkissed beaches.

The yellow jersey

Thanks to the victory on this stage of the race, the German racer will wear the yellow short or maillot jaune, signifying that he is placed at the top of the overall general classification (in other words, he has the most total points). The bad news is that also means that he is now the guy to beat and the optical yellow just makes it easy to pick him out of a crowd. The origin of this tradition is a bit hazy, the first official one was awarded in 1919 but the tradition can be traced back to 1914. In all probability it originated as a way for journalists to visual identify the person in the lead as the swarm of bikes zoomed past.

The colour code

After each stage the points are counted and the yellow jersey goes to the applicable lead man. Not the same actual piece of clothing, you understand. That would be gross. Anyway. The yellow shirt is not the only colour-coded identified. There’s also a green jersey associated with the best sprinter, a red and white jersey for the best mountain racer, and a white jersey for the young leader (most points among competitors under 26).

How about you?

So there you are, now when you watch the race you can spot the coloured t-shirts and understand a little bit more of what’s going on. Better yet, get on your bike for your own Tour de France.

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