General classification in the Tour de France
|Given for||Overall best time|
|Local name||Maillot jaune (French)|
|Editions||104 (as of |
|First winner|| |
|Most recent|| |
The general classification is the most important classification, the one by which the winner of the
The winner of the first Tour de France wore a green armband, not a yellow jersey. After the
There is doubt over when the yellow jersey began. The Belgian rider
He spoke of the next year's race, when "I won the first stage and was beaten by a tyre by Bossus in the second. On the following stage, the maillot jaune passed to Georget after a crash."
The Tour historian Jacques Augendre called Thys "a valorous rider... well-known for his intelligence" and said his claim "seems free from all suspicion". But: "No newspaper mentions a yellow jersey before the war. Being at a loss for witnesses, we can't solve this enigma."
According to the official history, the first yellow jersey was worn by the Frenchman
The two possibilities have been promoted equally but the idea of matching the colour of Desgrange's newspaper seems more probable because Desgrange wrote: "This morning I gave the valiant Christophe a superb yellow jersey. You already know that our director decided that the man leading the race [de tête du classement général] should wear a jersey in the colours of L'Auto. The battle to wear this jersey is going to be passionate."
Christophe disliked wearing it, anyway, and complained that spectators imitated canaries whenever he passed. It was a habit encouraged by his nickname of Cri-Cri (from "Christophe") which is French babytalk for a bird. Christophe remembered riders and spectators teasing: "Ah, the yellow jersey! Isn't he beautiful, the canary? What are you doing, Madame Cri-Cri", adding, "And that lasted the whole course."
There was no formal presentation when Christophe wore his first yellow jersey in
After Desgrange's death, his stylized initials were added to the yellow jersey, originally on the chest. They moved in 1969 to the sleeve to make way for a logo advertising Virlux. A further advertisement for the clothing company
Desgrange's initials returned to the front of the jersey in 1972, some years on the left, others on the right. They were removed in 1984 to make way for a commercial logo but
The original yellow jerseys were of conventional style. Riders had to pull them over their head on the rostrum. For many years the jersey was made in only limited sizes and many riders found it a struggle to pull one on, especially when tired or wet. The presentation jersey is now made with a full-length zip at the back and the rider pulls it on from the front, sliding his hands through the sleeves rather like a strait-jacket. He then receives three further jerseys each day, plus money (referred to as the "rent") for each day he leads the race.
There is no copyright on the yellow jersey and it has been imitated by many other races, although not always for the best rider overall: in the Tour of Benelux yellow is worn by the best young rider. In professional surf, the current male and female leaders of the
In American English it is sometimes referred to as the mellow johnny, a mispronunciation of its French name originally by