The Jerseys of the Vuelta a España

Vuelta jerseys

There are four jerseys in the Vuelta a España: red, green, blue polka dot and white. Unlike the Tour which has been trying to engineer the points allocation to provide distinct winners the Vuelta sees a big correlation where the leader in one competition is likely to be leading another competition and possibly all four at the same time.

As well as the jerseys, here’s a look at the cash prizes available in the race.

Red: the maillot rojo is awarded to the overall leader. It was orange when the Vuelta was launched in 1935 and switched to white for a year in 1941 but went back to orange. In 1955 race organisers switched it yellow, borrowing from the notoriety of the Tour de France and it stayed yellow until 1999 with one orange exception in 1977. In more recent times it has been gold but in 2010 red jersey was adopted. It is sponsored by Carrefour, a French supermarket.

The Vuelta offers time bonuses with 10 seconds for a stage winner, 6 seconds for second place and 4 seconds for third place. Each intermediate sprint offers 6-4-2 seconds as well.

Green: the points jersey but not necessarily the property of the sprinters. Points are awarded at the finish line and at intermediate points in the stage and the rider with the most points wears the jersey.

  • Finish line: 25-20-16-14-12-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points for the first 15 riders
  • Intermediate sprints: 4-2-1 points for the first three riders

Note that unlike the Tour de France, an equal amount of points are awarded in the mountains as on the flat. With the high number of summit finishes it means there’s a correlation between the overall classification and the points jersey. There’s a good example from 2012 when sprinter John Degenkolb won five stages but only finished fourth in the points competition with Alejandro Valverde well ahead. It is sponsored by a government recycling agency.

Polka dot: also known as the “King of the Mountains” jersey, this is similar to the Tour de France jersey, only with blue dots. Points are awarded at the top of categorised climbs and mountain passes. Whilst the Tour has five categories going from 4th cat climb to hors catégorie the Vuelta sticks to three categories. However there are exceptions where summit finishes offer more points. Also, like the Giro’s Cima Coppa prize, the highest climb of the Vuelta sees extra points awarded and the Cima Alberto Fernandez prize. This will be the Port d’Envalira which might be the highest climb but it’s not the hardest of the Vuelta being a large and wide road and a major transport artery for the principality of Andorra. It is sponsored by Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, the Spanish state lottery.

  • Cima Alberto Fernandez (Port de Envalira, Stage 14) : 20-15-10-6-4-2 for the first six riders
  • Summit Finishes: 15-10-6-4-2 for the first five riders
  • Category 1 climbs: 15-10-6-4-2 for the first five riders
  • Category 2: 5-3-1 points respectively
  • Category 3: 3-2-1 points

White: Tour connoisseurs should not confuse this with the white jersey from July. Instead this is for the “combined classification” and is awarded to the rider with the best position in all three of the above classifications: overall, mountains and points. It is calculated by the ranking in each classification. For example a rider who is 3rd overall, 5th on points and 8th on mountains has 16 points (3+5+8=16) and a rider 9th on GC, 4th on points and 2rd in the mountains has 15 points (9+4+2=15) and the rider with the lowest score wins. It is sponsored by Fertibibera, an agricultural products company.

Note there’s no best young rider competition and UCI rules limit a stage race to four jerseys in order to avoid confusing the public with too many in-race competitions.

Rojo Jersey Vuelta

The Jerseys and The Racing
The Tour de France agonises over the allocation of points for its green and polka dot jerseys. There’s a tension between rewarding the points jersey to the fastest sprinter and the best points gather, if only because folklore insists green is for sprinters. Similarly the mountains competition has seen many points changes to alter the outcome with summit finishes getting big rewards in a bid to thwart plucky raiders and instead reward the more obvious climbers.

But the Vuelta is less concerned with trying to engineer the outcomes. Again 2012 offers a good example where Alejandro Valverde finished second overall, won the points jersey and this helped him win the combined jersey too. In other words the racing should see riders aiming for stage wins and the overall classification rather than trying to bag a particular jersey.

Other Prizes
There’s also a daily “most combative” prize awarded every day to the rider who has attacked the most or tried the hardest. A subjective prize, it is awarded by a jury instead of using points.

There’s also the team general classification which is calculated on the basis of the sum of the three best individual times from each team in each stage ridden. For example if Riders A, B and C are a team’s best finishers on a stage, their times are added together for team’s overall standing. The next day Riders X, Y and Z are the best finishers and their cumulative time for the stage is added to the team’s time for the previous stage. In other words it’s not based on a team’s best three riders on GC but best three of a team each day.

The Prizes

  • Each day there’s €11,000 for the stage winner, €5,500 for second place and a decreasing scale down to a modest €360 for 20th place.
  • For the final overall classification in Madrid, first place brings €112,000, €57,000 for second place, €30,000 for third place and then down to €3,800 for 20th place.

There are other pots of money available in the race:

  • €160 a day to whoever wears the red jersey, €95 for the points and mountain jersey holders, €70 for the combined jersey
  • €13,000 for the final winner of the polka dot jersey
  • €11,000 for the final winner of the green jersey
  • There’s also money for the first three in the intermediate sprint and for getting mountain points too
  • The highest point – the Port d’Envalira – sees the Alberto Fernandez prize attributed with €1,520 for first place
  • And many other micro payments for the most combative rider, the leading team each day and more.

In summary that’s €1,057,890 in prizes. It seems to be up €410 from the prize pot of €1,057,480 last year.

17 thoughts on “The Jerseys of the Vuelta a España”

  1. “Again 2012 offers a good example where Alejandro Valverde finished second overall, won the points jersey and this helped him win the points jersey.”

    Should be:

    “Again 2012 offers a good example where Alejandro Valverde finished second overall, won the points jersey and this helped him win the combined classification.”

  2. The jersey sponsors tell a tale of how tough things are in Spain at present – the GC leader sponsored by a FRENCH company, the green jersey by a government recycling operation, the polka-dot by a lottery and the last one by a fertilizer company. Geez, I thought the Giro had a tough year in 2013!

    • Also note that Spain was the first country where Carrefour opened shop outside France 40 years ago, and that it has traditionally been the dominant food retailer in the Spanish market, especially after its merger with Continent.

    • ASO took a majority stake in la Vuelta several years ago – and given the state of the Spanish economy, and the rate at which Spanish races (as well as others) have been disappearing…thank goodness the ASO did. They’ve given it some level of financial stability.

  3. The “most combative” prize is awarded not by a jury but by TV viewers who are proposed three names about half an hour before the stage is over and send text messages to decide the winner of the day. Since this way of participating is limited to Spain, usually a Spanish rider will get that price, even if another rider was clearly more combative. Besides, giving the names half an hour before the end of the stage implies many votes being made without knowledge of the final result. Imagine a flat stage with a breakaway of four riders: a Spanish, a French, an Italian and a German. The first three are proposed for the combativity award. After their names are made public, the German breaks away and goes solo for 20 kilometers just to be caught after the flamme rouge. Normally he’d be considered the most combative of the day. However, his attack took place after the announcement of the three candidates. In this case, the Spanish rider would have a lot of chances to be on the podium at the end of the day.

  4. Does the Vuelta have the same amount of home viewers as the TdF or the Giro? If this is significantly less then there is an explanation regarding the sponsors…

  5. Wow didn’t realise that the ASO also were involved in this one. Would be interesting to have an article about who owns which races on the world tour and how many they each own at the next level. Sounds like you only need to get the ASO and RCS onboard for a break away world tour and the UCI wouldn’t have much left.

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