The points classification at the Tour de France is a competition which rewards consistent finishing. Riders receive points for being among the first 15 positions, both at the finish of each stage and at an intermediate sprint. The latter is often positioned somewhere in the middle of the stage, but can also occur relatively early or late, depending on the organisers’ choice.
The points competition has been a regular feature of the Tour since 1953. The current leader of the classification wears a distinctive green jersey, also known as the maillot vert. Although points are awarded for all stages other than team time trials, the green jersey is generally regarded as a competition for sprinters.
This is reinforced by the way points are allocated to different stages. In all cases, points are awarded to the first 15 finishers, but whereas 45 points are awarded to the winner of a flat stage, the winner of a high mountain or time trial stage gains just 20. In all non-time trial stages, a single intermediate sprint offers additional points for the first 15 riders across the line. Irrespective of the type of terrain, the winner of this receives 20 points.
The classification rewards consistent finishing as opposed to stage wins. A rider who wins two stages and then fails to score in the third receives the same number of points (90) as a rider who records three third places. Hence it is possible to win the green jersey without winning the most (or indeed any) sprints, as Thor Hushovd demonstrated in 2009 despite winning just one stage to Mark Cavendish‘s six.
Of the Tour jerseys, the green is second in prestige only to the yellow, and wearing the maillot vert on the Champs Élysées at the end of the Tour de France is every sprinter’s dream. Erik Zabel is king of the green, with six consecutive wins from 1999 to 2004. Mark Cavendish won the points classification in 2011 after taking five stage victories.
For general information on the other Tour de France jerseys, click here.