How do you fancy boring your friends to death down the pub or driving your girlfriend/wife/lover/yourself! nuts with mind-numbing feats of Tour de France pedantry? In the first of a series (This is the pilot. If it’s just too dull, then the series may never get off the ground) of trivia for the layman or laylady (lay), we strip away the layers of complicated jargon to reveal, if you will, the bare facts:
NUMBER 1: THE GREEN JERSEY
What is the green jersey?
The green jersey is the prize awarded to the most consistent rider in the race. In the same way that the polka-dot jersey is synonomous with the best climbers, so the green one singles out and pays homage to the hard men of the flat stages, the sprinters. If we love the willowy grimpeurs (climbers) for their romantic crusades in the Alps and the Pyrenees, so we must admire the sprinters (they don’t inspire love, rather respect for their unflinchingly gung-ho speed) for the unparalleled excitement they provide. They intensify the suspense of the last few kilometres of each flat stage. Let’s face it, there’s something scarily compelling about the spectacle of speed.
How did it come about in the first place?
The green jersey awarded to the points winner was created in 1953, the year of the fiftieth Tour de France. The Swiss cyclist Fritz Schaer, winner of the first two stages that year, was the first to reach pole position in the standings, and won the green jersey in Paris.
Why is the jersey green?
“It’s the colour of hope,”(does this mean that yellow is the colour peace? So what do red polka dots signify?) according to the Tour de France Organisation. At the time, the organisers were looking for an easily identifiable colour, distinctly different from the yellow jersey. It is worth mentioning that the distinctive jersey for the Mountain Grand Prix, created in 1933, only started being awarded much later, in the mid-Seventies. How many jerseys are produced for the Tour de France?
All in all, 605 garments are manufactured for the duration of the Tour. The models, most of which come in six sizes (from 2 to 6), include short-sleeved, long-sleeved and three-quarter-sleeve jerseys, long sleeved jackets, and one-piece suits for the stages against the clock. Green waterproofs are also available.
What is a green jersey made of?
The fabric used is Dri Fit, which has a slightly open texture. It has the special property of letting body heat escape while forming a barrier against external elements.
What is the kit for a green jersey cyclist?
A points winner is allocated special kit, presented to him in the evening at his hotel. It generally consists of a three-quarter sleeve and a long jersey, a jacket and a waterproof.
DOUBLE WINNER LAURENT JALABERT GIVES US THE LOW DOWN ON THE GREEN JERSEY
Consistency is what the points competition is all about, and one man who certainly understands the definition of that word is ubiquitous World No.1 (recently lapsed) and the last Frenchman to pick up the points prize in Paris in 1995, Laurent “Ja Ja” Jalabert. Here he tells us what it’s all about:
So, Laurent, which one of your green jerseys (he also won it in 1992) means the most to you?
The one in 1992, because that year it was my goal. In 1995 it was different: I was chasing two hares at once, if you like. I was up against even greater odds with my first green jersey. There was Museeuw and I had to make a terrific effort in the medium-high mountains to gain points, at Saint-Etienne and particularly at La Bourbole.
What have you done with those jerseys? (after all most Academy Award winners have their Oscars on show in the toilet)
I had the first one framed. It’s in a room I use as my office at home, at Mazamet. The jerseys which represent my most important wins are all there, framed: the green and yellow Tour de France jerseys, the one for the Vuelta, the pink Giro jersey and the one for the World Championship time trial. The second green jersey has gone into the drawer with all the others I’ve worn during my career. I have a pretty big collection; there must be 60, 80- maybe 100 jerseys in all!
Who is your top tip for this year’s points king?
Well, he’s about 1.75m tall and he’s German…(smiles). I’m thinking of (Erik) Zabel of course. Frankly, I can’t imagine any other cyclist than Erik winning it. I’m not even thinking about it myself. It takes too much in terms of preparation, especially where sprinting is concerned. I’ve thrown in the sponge (does he mean towel?) as far as the green jersey goes.