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A Uni Watch Look at the Tour de France

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Andrew Engbretson about the uniforms at the Tour de France. ”” PL]

By Andrew Engretson

The Tour de France, which just completed its first week, may be one of the most colorful collection of uniforms in professional sports. First off, instead of just two teams competing against each other, there are 22 on the road at once, each with their own unique kit creating a patchwork of nearly 200 riders for 21 days of racing. But there’s more to it than that.

Let’s start with the teams. Each team has at least one title sponsor and many smaller ones that cover everything from bikes to the stuff they wear after the race. Sponsorships come and go, so the same core of riders can find themselves wearing entirely different kits from year to year, but usually these changes are incremental.

Furthermore, cycling has world and national championship races every year. The reigning world and national champions get to wear a unique kit celebrating their accomplishment. As a side note, these riders can only wear that jersey in their specific discipline. For example, current world road champion Phillippe Gilbert will be wearing his rainbow stripes during “normal” road stages but not during the time trials. Individual time trial champion Tony Martin gets that right in stages “against the clock.” (To complicate things a little more, Martin was fined for having a bike and helmet with world champion stripes during Stage 4’s Team Time Trial, which is considered a different discipline.) The same goes for national champions in each area. Finally, riders who have won either a world or national championship in previous years ”” but not this year ”” are entitled to wearstripes on the sleeves and collar of their team’s normal jersey, but again only when riding the discipline in which they won it.

Also, some teams actually put the riders’ names on the jerseys, but this is not very common. In order to help out the team mechanics, riders have their names on their bikes (or sometimes their Twitter handles). Some of the big names get custom-painted bikes.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the “normal” kits that riders wear throughout the year, let’s move on to the jerseys that are specific to the Tour de France. Nearly everyone knows about the yellow jersey (“malliot jaune” in French), which is worn by the rider who has the lowest overall time after each stage of the race. This is arguably the most prestigious jersey in all of cycling and wearing it for just one day can make a lesser rider’s career.

The next most prestigious jersey is the green, or points, jersey (“malliot vert”), which reflects the best sprinter in the race. Riders accumulate points at two designated spots each day. Points at the finish line are awarded on a sliding scale that reflects how difficult the stage is.

The Tour de France is famous for its mountains, so there is also a jersey for that: the polka dot jersey. Riders accumulate points for this classification at the tops of climbs, and the number of points awarded are determined by the difficulty of the climb. The harder the road, the more points available.

Finally, there is the white jersey, awarded to the highest-placed rider who was under 26 years of age at the start of the calendar year.

Often the riders celebrate wearing these jerseys by getting their own custom-painted bikes. Additionally, riders will sometimes deck themselves out in full kits to match their special jerseys, resulting in YFYS, GFGS, WFWS, and a clown costume.

There are also a few other uni-related things that may catch the eye of the keen observer. Each day a jury awards a “combativity” prize to the rider who has done the most to animate the day’s stage. This cyclist gets to wear a special race number with a red background the next day. There is also a team classification, determined using the total time of the three best-placed riders on each squad. This is designated by race numbers with yellow backgrounds (and more recently yellow helmets as well).

Finally, if a rider is leading more than one category — overall time and sprint points, for example — he is obligated to wear the more prestigious jersey (seriously — otherwise he gets fined) and the person in second place of the lesser category “borrows” the other jersey for the day.

Got it all? Good. Now go and impress your friends.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner

By Brinke Guthrie

We’ve featured these Technigraph NFL helmet plaques individually from time to time here on Collector’s Corner, but here’s a set of six! Would these look great on a football fan’s wall? The answer is yes.

Now, on to other business for this week:

• Dave Boss NFL Poster Alert! I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention these auctions. Some of the posters are showing their age, though.

• We have complete Chiquita NFL Sticker Set Alert, too! Check it out.

• These NFL helmet banks from the late 1960s and early 1970s are commonly found on eBay, but this is the first Niners example I’ve seen.

• This 1960s Vikings banner shows a yellow facemask, purely for artistic reasons. Wouldn’t that have looked good on the real helmet? [I think it’s not so much “artistic reasons” as production reasons. This banner has a two-color design ”” purple and yellow. They couldn’t use a gray facemask (the proper color for that era) without adding a third color to the banner, which would have increased production costs. And they couldn’t use a white facemask because it wouldn’t have shown up against the white background. So they had to go with yellow. ”” PL]

• Ever seen this 1969 Sports Illustrated football game? I was absolutely killer on this one.

• Here’s a late-1960s/early-1970s Chicago Bears poncho that’s supposedly never been worn.

• Major League Baseball in Wisconsin! Says so right here on this vintage 1970s Brewers seat cushion.

• And here’s one from Paul: an old baseball jersey from a team that must have been called the Milkmen.

Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.

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Tryin’ to anaesthetise the way that you feel: My 30-minute radio segment yesterday ended up being an hour-long segment, with uni designer Todd Radom and Ebbets Field Flannels honcho Jerry Cohen both on board for parts of that hour. I thought it went really well. You can listen to it here.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like the Longhorns have switched to a logo-clad Nikelace and moved their TV numbers from the sleeves to the shoulders. … Wait, check that: No Nikelace for the Longhorns after all (but they’re definitely moving the TV numbers and adding the collar logo). But you know who is changing to the Nikelace? Ohio State, plus they’re adding little buckeye leaves on the back of their collars, although I think we already covered that a week or so ago (from Dan Luther). … The Trail Blazers have changed the color, and I believe the font, of the uni numbers on their red alternate uniforms (from Oliver Sturtevant and Derek Hinatsu). … The Suns have released a teaser image for their new uni set. … Welcome development in St. Looie, where Cards GM John Mozeliak has instructed the grounds crew to stop etching that cross on the Busch Stadium mound. ”¦. Neglected to mention yesterday that Mariano Rivera went high-cuffed on Sunday as a way of supporting teammate Dave Robertson’s All-Star candidacy. ”¦ The Diamondbacks will keep wearing their black “Arizona” jerseys for the balance of their current homestand, but the “19” patch will be moved from the chest to the sleeve (thanks, Phil). … There’s a movement to allow Sikhs to wear their traditional beards, long hair, and turbans in the U.S. Army. ”¦ Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: The “Me too” thing is spreading, as several Red Sox players wore the Angels’ memorial patch for Dr. Lewis Yocum on Sunday. That makes three MLB teams that have worn another team’s memorial patch in the past few weeks. And all three instances involve the Angels. But as Dwight Fisher points out, the Angels actually got this ball rolling last season, when they wore the Red Sox’s Johnny Pesky memorial patch for a game at Fenway. I had completely forgotten about that. ”¦ Georgia State will unveil its new football uniforms later this week (from Matt Newhouse). … BJ Lanier came across a retro car company that uses the Wizards logo. … Really good question from Nathan Fiala, who writes: “I opened my newspaper this morning to a picture of Andy Murray kissing the Wimbledon championship trophy. It made me wonder who was the first person to kiss a trophy/medal for his or her respective sport. Have people always done this, or is it a more modern celebration?” The first person I can recall doing it is Bjorn Borg, but I’m sure it predates him. Anyone..? … Check out this photo of Jackie Robinson and one of his Montreal Royals teammates. Alan Tompas thinks they’re wearing satin night uniforms, and he’s probably right, although they don’t look quite as shiny as I’d expect. Maybe only the stripes are satin..? Hmmmm. … Clint Richardson is working on an Auburn basketball uniform database. If you have old photos you’d be willing to share with him, contact him here. … Interesting commentary on Yahoo’s use of purple (thanks, Brinke). … New handicapped symbol for New York City (from Tom Mulgrew). … Oh baby, look at the amazing stationery you used to be able to get on board passenger trains (great find by Ben Fortney). … Rare sight: an NFL NOB with a tilde. That’s rookie Gilbert Peña of the Packers (from Jeff Ash). ”¦ Absolutely killer striped stirrups for the Danbury Westerners, who play in a summer college league. That player, incidentally, is Brandon Bonilla — Bobby’s son (from John Dankosky ). ”¦ Two death-related items from Tommy Turner: A Browns fan specified that his funeral include Browns-themed pall bearers “so the team could let him down one last time” and a ’Skins fan was buried in a Robert Griffin III jersey. ”¦ Check out the NOBs in this photo of the Iraqi soccer team. “Even though they are using the Latin alphabet, periods are to the left of initials,” notes Ryan Burns. … Chad Hayes sent along some pics from one of those old-timey “base ball” games, this one from Bay Village, Ohio. … The Toledo Mud Hens wore hot dog-themed uniforms the other day (from Bill Radocy). … According to the No. 15 item on this page, Batman once wore Nike-branded sneakers (from Steve Hudgin). … New kits for Tottenham. … The Big Ten Network asked one football beat writer covering each school to rank the uniforms for the teams in the conference. Here are the results (from Tyler Sajdak). … Coleman Mullins notes that the flag on the 18th green on the final day of the Greenbriar Classic was an American flag. … Todd Radom has put together a characteristically excellent look at the visual history of the Baltimore Bullets. … New football cleats for Louisville. … Holy moly, look at this rad wrestling singlet. … “The All-Star Game patches on the side of this year’s MLB caps do not have that faux-felt appearance and feel that the past few years’ patches have had,” says Adrian Acosta. “Instead, they have a hard vinyl/plastic cheap feel. Poor job,” … Here’s an excellent interactive infographic on NFL player arrests. Highly recommended (from Kevin Beebe). … Looks like Earl Thomas of the Seahawks is going with RNOB this season (from Thom Armitage). … No photo, but Christopher Hall says Torii Hunter was still wearing his star-spangled July 4th batting gloves last night. ”¦ James Ashby found some awesome early-1970s photos of the Philadelphia Warriors rollerderby team.

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Comments (78)

    I’m sure they predate his professional career, but I could swear link was the model for those Technigraph plaques.

    I seem to remember Christie Kerr kissing a certain trophy for winning the Long’s Drug Challenge in 2010. Not the first, but definitely the best example of it.

    Thank you, Andrew Engretson (aka Anders, son of the Baleful Engret, in the Old Norse sagas) for that Tour rundown. Personally, I don’t feel the love for cycling, but it’s always good to know about sports and spectacles that keep hundreds of millions of fellow humans glued to their sets.

    [The Jeff’s (reasonable) snark re doping will be Tour Issue #1 for a lot of us Americans, but maybe that will fade. The margins between first place and middle of the pack seem so small, relative to the distances travelled, that nobody should be surprised that drug use became close to a requirement for success.]

    Aesthetically, I just can’t deal very well with: a) the ubiquity of sponsor ads; and b) the dorky helmet shape. But this year’s logo of the Tour itself (see above) is terrific.

    For me, road cycling is one of those sports that doesn’t seem like it should be telegenic, but sucks me right in for hours on end. (Tops on this list of insanely counterintuitively watchable competitions: Snooker. I’ve lost whole days to snooker tournaments on the BBC.) Not that you’ll ever see it on American TV, but women’s road cycling is even better, since there’s still more of an amateur ethic to the sport on the women’s side. More dramatic, and less corporate polish. Also, there are a few top women cyclists who are plausibly non-dopers.

    It was a very interesting piece.

    There’s something heraldic about it: it must take a tremendous amount of work just to keep all of it straight. How did the traditions develop? Was it all in place at the first Tour, or did things evolve?

    Borg perhaps initiated the custom of trophy kissing on the men’s side of tennis, but on the women’s side it was fairly common if not entirely customary. Here’s a shot of Margaret Court kissing the Wimbledon trophy (or more aptly, plate):

    And here’s perhaps the most iconic trophy kissing picture, of the 1970s at least:

    I don’t care that the Cardinals told the grounds crew to stop putting a cross on the pitching mound, but it’s hypocritical to do that and then have “Christian Day at the Ballpark” two days later. They’ve been having that promotion for years.

    How is it “hypocritical”? There are all sorts of promotions that don’t deserve to be enshrined on the mound.

    I hope someone on the grounds crew got what consider a thinly veiled approval of etching StL into the mound. I mean, no WAY they could work a cross into that one, eh?

    Not the same thing. One is a sales promotion, aimed at a target demographic. The other is a statement of purpose.

    The Dodgers used to have a “Mormon Night” every summer. That didn’t imply endorsement of the tenets of the LDS Church, and it certainly didn’t impede beer sales at the stadium. If they had replaced the National Anthem with “Come, Come Ye Saints” and had a brief testimony meeting during the seventh inning stretch, well, that would be a different story.

    How about after the game? Over the weekend, the Nats hosted a post-game concert with some Christian praise band, and before and during the concert, several Nats players took the stage to testify and preach. Not quite the seventh inning stretch, but “Stick around for a sermon from first baseman Adam LaRoche!” comes close.

    I believe the Dodgers still do Mormon Night. President Uchtdorf threw out the first pitch in 2012 link and Elder Holland was there on June 28 link

    I agree that having a night like this for a certain group is very different than the cross on the mound.

    Exactly. And far from being hypocrisy, both express a consistent ethic of management control of the organization and deliberate catering to fans. Hypocrisy would be permitting concession staff to stage a wildcat, guerilla “Christian Night” at the ballpark, out of view of the TV cameras, while forbidding the groundscrew from staging their wildcat mound-graffiti that is visible to the public.

    Even with the chest stripe, there is no way Northwestern is higher than eleventh in the Big Ten’s league of twelve.

    I totally agree. Northwestern’s uniforms are a lot of wasted potential. In sort of related news, I couldn’t help but sadly nod in agreement in a lot of the talk about my beloved Boilers. Purdue’s uniforms went from classy and classic to mediocre practice uniforms. It’s just too bad.

    The seven buckeye leaves on the back of the collar represent each of the national titles won by the Buckeyes. It’s the equivalent of a world cup championship star for each World Cup attained being placed on the front crest of a national soccer team such as Brazil or Germany.

    I bet Tressel wanted to actually tattoo those buckeye leaves onto the necks of the players.

    Google “players kissing the Stanley Cup”.

    A lot of garbage comes up (including a photo of a girl in sunglasses licking said Cup), but there’s a least a couple of dozen shots of players bussing the trophy.

    Ok, so apparently I put the link to my site in the link above. I apologize. My brain is on a different wavelength today. I guess I forgot to actually copy the link. (read: I’m a dummy!)

    link in ’54.

    So the Suns are sticking with purple after all? All the chatter seemed to indicate a black uni.

    I have significantly less problem with a 6,000 square foot video board in Wrigley’s left field than I do with what’s being proposed here:


    all that big ESPN hype about “give us a gay athlete ..blah blah blah” and then when they have a kiss on their own network, they don’t say a word.


    I guess ESPN doesn’t think bowling is a REAL sport?

    the 4 letter network is pathetic.

    That “complete set” of NFL Chiquita banana stickers only has 20 of the 26 teams. Not sure if the seller made an error in taking the photo, or if it’s an incomplete set.

    Did anyone catch the special turd graphic on that chart of NFL arrests for Najeh Devenport’s closet incident??

    John Lackey had his elbow reconstruction done by Dr. Lewis Yocum, so I think it’s appropriate that he’d be wearing his tribute patch.

    What you’re essentially saying is that Yocum didn’t “belong” to the Angels, even though he was their team physician. He belonged to everyone (or at least everyone who ever dealt with him).

    That’s certainly a reasonable argument. But if that’s the case, then the Yocum memorial patch shouldn’t have been rendered in Angels colors, with an Angels font, etc. And the memorial tribute to him should simply have been MLB-wide, or at least an option for any player who ever dealt with Yocum. Right?

    At some point, Dr. James Andrews will die. He’s dealt with countless players on countless teams and has had a huge impact on the sport, although he’s not an official employee of any particular team like Yocum was. When Andrews dies, should there be a patch? If so, under whose auspices should it be designed? Who should get to wear it? Should all MLB players wear it?

    I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with Lackey or other non-Angels wearing the Yocum patch. But if they do so — and if you try to justify it using the argument that you used — there are implications. It would be good if we tried to think about those implications, instead of just thinking about the here and now.

    But what if the DC football team puts Dr. Andrews’ somewhat famous burgundy gold stocking cap on the helmet — in place of the current logo?

    The number of trophies awarded throughout NASCAR’s history is so great that it’s tough to say who kissed theirs first, but Dale Jarrett began the tradition of kissing the Yard of Bricks after his win at Indy in ’96.

    The University of Texas has had shoulder numbers (at least once) before – back in 1987 when Eric Metcalf was the featured star of the Horns.

    My favorite Tour de France-related uni moment comes from a friend of mine who’s a cycling enthusiast. He has a replica polka dot mountain jersey he wears sometimes when he rides. While riding in a park near his home a while back, he overheard a mother responding to her preschool-aged son, “No, honey, I don’t think so. I think he’s just wearing a clown shirt.”

    Looking through old AP images earliest I can find is Bing Crosby kissing his Oscar in 1945…


    It seems to be fairly common in sports in the ’60s. I did find Gary Player kissing the Claret Jug in 1959…


    What’s the big deal with the Yahoo weather icon? I don’t think it was ugly. (But then, I usually like purple.) It’s good that not every website is blue. Yahoo stands out from the crowd with the purple. The icon is clean and simple. You can instantly recognize it as Yahoo and that it is their weather app instead of something else.

    I say every jersey in every sport should have a blank white circle with the black outline built into it. It should be made from some sort of dry-erase material so when a memorial is called for, it will be easy to just “plug & play”. That should be the next big uni-improvement from the Nike & UA sort. They can even come up with some bs term to call it (like “The Final Goodbye System”) and can claim it makes a team 18% more mournful.

    For better or worse, soccer jerseys already do this

    FIFA regulation: link (skip to page 28)

    9.1 A space needs to be kept free on each sleeve of the shirt, where no Manufacturer’s Identification or any type of identification of the Member Association may be displayed. This Sleeve Free Zone is exclusively reserved for specified badges for FIFA identification purposes. No other elements shall be positioned immediately adjacent to the badges exclusively provided by the FIFA general secretariat.

    The Sleeve Free Zone on each sleeve must be at least 12cm high, 8cm wide and be centred between the Shoulder Point and the Elbow Point.

    UEFA regulation: link (also page 28)


    Each sleeve (long or short, left and right) must have a free zone, where no manufacturer identification may be placed. This zone is used for badges. This free zone on each sleeve must be at least 12cm long and 8cm wide, positioned between the shoulder point and the elbow point on long-sleeved shirts and between the shoulder point and the sleeve end on short-sleeved shirts (Annex C). The distance between the top edge of the free zone and the shoulder point must be identical for short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts produced for the same team.


    My reaction exactly, dig the hooped socks, goes way back, Arsenal should do more of them.

    Yes and no.

    Yes because its still the nicest looking kit. No because it used to look even nicer, when the brown was a lighter shade and really complemented the blue.


    So does the new Suns collar have a stripe of orange that tapers away at the “V” neck? Or is that orange a part of the tie Len is wearing and the collar is all purple? I can’t tell. I’m glad the Suns are keeping purple, even though I’ve never liked the color (like Paul). But it is part of their identity. They are “The purple gang from Phoenix” after all. I’m sure they’ll have black alternates and wear them often.

    It looks like it’s a collar similar to the Houston one, from what I can tell in that pic

    The new handicapped symbol–the tweak from sitting stagnant to pushing forward independently–is remarkable. It implies there is a person, a human, to be aware of rather than…a thing.

    My biggest recollection of the ’84 Olympics is that McDonalds gave away free food with every medal won by the USA. ‘Murica KILLED it that year. I ate like a fast food king that summer. Best part was you didn’t have to redeem your winning game piece “on a future visit”. We’d eat, play, win. Eat, play, win. Eat, play, win.

    McD’s doesn’t run their games like that no more. P^:

    Can’t believe that the Sky team is in almost all black. I know these are the geekingest fabrics to cool off in, but isn’t there a limit?

    If a rider is leading more than one category…he is obligated to wear the more prestigious jersey…otherwise he gets fined

    To which I can only say, How Gallic. Or, “The French they are a funny race.”

    I’m sure it was probably noted around last year’s Fall Classic, but the World Series patch for the Tigers’ and Giants’ hats was made out of the same material as this year’s All Star Game.

    It’s somewhat visible here: link

    How the hell are the Chicago Bears consistently ranked at the top of the NFL Uniform rankings with a blue, orange, and white color scheme but somehow when U of I uses a very similar color scheme it is torn to shreds. Screw you Big Ten Network (though I cant say I expected any less coming from a conference that cannot count how many teams it has)

    Interesting write-up on Le Tour. I have often wondered one thing in regards to the leaders’ jerseys mentioned: does the team of a rider who is expected to excel in a certain category have one such jersey, complete with all the sponsors and, of course, in the correct size, made up prior to the race, or is it something that’s done on the fly, like how top draft choices receive personalized jerseys the night of the draft? I would think that the bike would have to have been completed beforehand, in anticipation of such a reward, but that strikes me as some bad juju.

    I’m pretty sure they’ve shown pre-podium coverage before on NBC of a dude behind the podium, screening the logo of the rider’s team onto a jersey.

    I guess it makes sense, as there’s a finite number of logos they’d need. That makes me wonder, then, if the one they wear on the podium is different from the one they wear in the next day’s stage; if so, how different?

    They just mentioned on the Gold Cup broadcast on Fox Soccer that Cuba’s wearing the shirt and shorts of one company and the socks of another – I can see Cuba’s wearing Joma socks but can’t make out the other. Any help from anyone else watching the game?

    I’ve been reading you guys for about 18 months everyday, if I miss one here or there I catch up asap. But how is the hot dog uniform not the lead today? It’s a hot dog uniform, there must be a back story.

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