New rules for Tour de France competitions explained

Green jersey

At last, I’ve found a source quoting the new rules for the Tour de France points and mountains competitions. These rules have changed after Tour organisers ASO wanted to liven up the race a bit, to ensure the green jersey is more closely correlated with a stage winning sprinter and also so that the mountains jersey goes to a proper climber, rather than a calculator-wielding rider who takes off early on a couple of mountain stages.

Anyway, there had been talk of rules changes… but then more talk of more changes and nobody’s had a definitive version. Now it seems have got their hands on the rules. Here’s how it works…

Green jersey
There will now only be one intermediate sprint during each stage, as opposed to two or three in the past. Here 20 points are on offer to the first rider and a sliding scale for those close behind down to 15th place. At the finish line the points will vary, with 45 points available to the winner on a flat stage, 30 points on a hilly stage and 20 for a mountain stage and again, with points down to 15th. As such an intermediate sprint is worth the same as a stage win in the mountains when it comes to the green jersey.

I’m unsure what to make of this. The increased weight of the intermediate sprint could be a significant tactical change in the race. We might see some breakaway artists rack up points, then again we might see breakaways reeled in just so a challenger close to the green jersey can sprint for more points. Mark Cavendish will appreciate the chance to take big points in a sprint final but first week of uphill finishes could well see a more rounded rider wearing green, especially if they can latch on to a breakaway to mop up points from the intermediate sprints on a mountain stage. Certainly no rider can leave it to the finish line to get their points.

King of the Mountains jersey
Big changes here. Lower rated climbs now get fewer points, with only the first rider to the top of a fourth category climb getting one measly point. There are still 20 points for a hors catégorie climb but whereas 10 riders over the top used to get points, now only the first six get points and even then the sixth rider gets just two points. Plus points are doubled for the four HC summit category finishes.

Steven Rooks
The good old days

As such, this is a clear way to reward pure climbers. No longer can a rider poach points on the flat stages and top up with a couple of Alpine breakaways. Not that this strategy was ever easy but last year’s winner Anthony Charteau managed to win the competition yet stay anonymous. This time points are distributed to those crossing the high climbs with an even greater advantage to those in contention at the finish of a stage compared to the earlier climbs on a stage.

King of the mountains points

HC 1 2 3 4
1st 20 10 5 2 1
2nd 16 8 3 1
3rd 12 6 2
4th 8 4 1
5th 4 2
6th 2 1

Green jersey points

Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3+4 Cat 5 Intermediate sprint
1st 45 30 20 20 20
2nd 35 25 17 17 17
3rd 30 22 15 15 15
4th 26 19 13 13 13
5th 22 17 11 11 11
6th 20 15 10 10 10
7th 18 13 9 9 9
8th 16 11 8 8 8
9th 14 9 7 7 7
10th 12 7 6 6 6
11th 10 6 5 5 5
12th 8 5 4 4 4
13th 6 4 3 3 3
14th 4 3 2 2 2
15th 2 2 1 1 1

Every stage of the Tour de France is classified with a “coefficient”, a category to determine how hard they are and the easier the stage, the greater the number of points available for the green jersey competition. For 2011, here’s how the stages break down:

Coefficient 1: Stages 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 21
Coefficient 2: Stages 8, 9, 16
Coefficient 3+4: Stages 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19
Coefficient 5: Stage 20 (time trial)

27 thoughts on “New rules for Tour de France competitions explained”

  1. I like it, especially for the KOM – which was woeful last year.

    A fit Soler should also make for greater viewing and suspense for the Polka Dot jersey.

  2. Question here – As a relatively new cycling follower (2nd TdF), we often wonder why the mountain jersey is worn by someone who seems so bad at going up mountains. The wearer of the jersey is often seen at the back of the peloton in the grupetto with the sprinters. Wouldn’t you think the mountain climbing specialists would be first going up the mountains?

  3. Nick: yes and whilst Charteau was riding very strongly, I think many felt he was hardly the best climber.

    TBooker27: well you have points for the first to the top of each categorised climb. Some riders realised they could find a stage with a big climb at the start and sprint to the top in order to collect the points whilst others were more focussed on the climbs later in the stage where the big battles take place. This way some guys scored points and took a lead in the KoM competition. Not easy at all but it meant clever riders took the prize, rather than the actual best climber in the race.

  4. I like the idea of trying to award the KOM jersey to a pure climber, but am not so sure about the changes to the green jersey, and whether they will change all that much.

    Maybe have a separate points jersey and sprinters’ jersey, or get rid of the intermediate sprints altogether?

  5. Wonder who the favourites are realistically in this new points system will be? Am looking forward to the first stage to see who will lead the green jersey first!

  6. I think the Maillot Vert should be on the finish line only, to promote/reward consistency of placing high in the stages. It is a points jersey, not a sprint jersey, despite what people (including the so cal experts) call it!

    I’d also like there to be a separate competition for the intermediate sprints, similar to the Red Jersey for the “Catch” Sprints competition in years gone by (complete with the dead bug logo of the sponsor!). If they want to have it as an overall sprint competition, then points can be offered on the finish line for stages where sprints are likely.

  7. I love watching sprints: the tactics, the teamwork, the pure power. If we could regularly see one mid-stage, that would be great. Here is my suggestion (anyone from ASO reading?): allow each team to designate one rider who will be eligible to compete for the green jersey. For most of the important sprint teams, this would of course be their top sprinter (Cav, Farrar, et. al). Then, green jersey points are awarded in descending order only to these designated men. Thus, if 8 domestiques get up the road in a break on a flat stage, they don’t eat up any points at all. They don’t care; they’re only interested in their quixotic quest for a stage or perhaps in some TV time for their sponsors. However, you can bet that all the usual lead-out trains will queue up when the peloton comes along 5 minutes later.
    Think of the side benefit: the intermediate sprint on mountain stages. Currently, it is a complete farce. No one contests it; no sprinter is ever there to do so. Under my proposed system, though, the climbers will most likely not be designated men. Even if one or two all-rounders is designated, that still leaves points to fight for. What does that mean? When the exhausted grupetto full of sprinters and lead-out men gets to flat ground for a little while, they will revive a bit and have something to fight for. Then the TV producer can switch the feed from Contador, Schleck, and Menchov stonily trying to look grim but not tired to the feed from those cameramen 30 minutes back who are otherwise relegated to trying to catch the sprinters hanging on to the team cars. It would be cool: we could check in for a couple of minutes of excitement from the sprinters (that’s what they’re there for, right?) jockeying for position and laying down the hammer on a day when we don’t typically see them at all (except if they get caught receiving a tow). Everyone wins!

  8. I like the sprint changes it’s going to make the mountain stages interesting where basically the sprint teams are going to flog the peloton to set up their guys for the sprint form a grupetto and let the GC teams take over.

    Stage 12 for example has the sprint just before the first cat 1 climb so the stage is affectively in 2 parts

  9. I don’t know, but I have a feeling that the polka dot jersey will be worn by the 2nd rider in the standings this way.
    Interesting to see that the same rules resulted in so different winners. In the past nobody thought of the possibility that you can win the jersey with tactical breakaways?

  10. This could result in bigger breakaways if a sprinters team like HTC or Garmin don’t want to contest an intermediate sprint they won’t bother chasing and let the points be soaked up by the minnows. I guess it’ll then be down to the GC teams to chase on the flat stages as well. Maybe not though, it might all remain the same.

  11. to solve the KOM issue, they could have simply adjusted the way the climbs are categorized to align the ratings with the climbs that are more highly contested by the whole field. for example, never have an HC climb (or even cat1) in the first half of the stage. climbs should only be rated highly if it’s at the end of the stage when the GC guys have something to race for.

    but overall, this is a move in the right direction.

  12. The KOM is a great improvement. I’ve no doubt it’s hard work bagging 1st over a Category 4, but it’s not strictly in the domain of mountain goats.

    Imagine a seperate points category for powerful classics riders a la Spartacus/Hushovd/Phil rewarding Cat 3,4 & hilly stages? Perhaps that’s what the combativité is for? Anyway, I think the changes are good.

  13. I’m not so sure if the KOM changes were totally necessary, since this year’s route has a lot more high peaks than last year. I can’t picture a non-climber being able to win the maillot à pois, and in fact I think it’s quite possible that a GC contender could win it simply by trying to get on the podium.

    And I like the Green Jersey improvements, but it seems to me that if the organizers really want to make the flat/intermediate stages truly interesting, they’ve got to limit superteams’ ability to control the race by reducing the team size to eight and inviting one or two more wildcards.

  14. can someone explain the timing – i thought that if there was a clear gap between riders finishing then they got a different time to the person winning – but i have seen this week of TdeF riders getting the same time as the winner and there being a clear gap


  15. one of the stage finishes this week shows a clear gap between riders – yet they all got the same time, and if they have transponders they should also show a difference in time – or is it a case of the TdeF making the rules up as they go along

  16. Same thing happened last year or the year before with Wiggins if I remember correctly. There was a gap in the main bunch coming over the line and they then separated the two groups by something like 15 seconds but that was appealed and rescinded.

  17. anyone know where i can obtain a copy of the riders roadbook – TofB makes theirs available to look at so be nice to see a TdeF


  18. Does anyone know how they go about customizing the leaders’ jerseys (i.e. yellow, green, white, polka dot) with all of the team sponsors logos? For instance, do they screen the Garmin-Cervelo stuff onto a blank yellow jersey each day after they see that Thor has retained the jersey? It seems like they have those “customized” jerseys immediately availalbe. Thanks.

  19. When a rider wins a ‘jersey’ during the race, and wears it the next day what happens to that jersey when he loses it. Does he keep it, or does he have to hand it back. If he can keep it is it marked in anyway to show that it was not for an overall win of the race but for an intermediate stage/s

    Many Thanks

  20. Maurice: they keep it. In fact they get several: thin and thick materials and one with long sleeves, so they’re ok what ever the weather. Then they get more to give away, for sponsors, team mates and friends. No difference between the final and the mid-race jerseys.

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