Published on Feb 13, 2019 by Tom Owen

In the cycling world, a road race isn’t just a road race. During a multi-day event like the Amgen Tour of California, the excitement can lie in the details. It’s not just about who’s victorious on the day, as multiple contests are happening at the same time. And that's what makes the sport fascinating. There’s more than meets the eye, especially when it comes to who wears what jersey.



Amgen Leader - Overall Competition

This one for all the marbles. Starting on the first day of competition, the overall leader is the rider with the lowest cumulative time on the general classification. As with all the other jersey competitions, this athlete will receive a special jersey that they must wear the next day, which indicates their status. At the Amgen Tour of California, this jersey is yellow, however, in earlier years, it was gold, referencing the California Gold Rush. Traditionally, the wearer of the yellow jersey holds a certain amount of respect amongst his or her peers. It is considered highly unsportsmanlike to attack when the yellow jersey is in difficulty, during a mechanical or crash, etc.



Lexus King/Queen of the Mountain Competition

The mountain goats have their eye on this prize. Designed for climbers, the King (or Queen) of the Mountain competition is based on a points and category system. After the routes are finished, the race organization offer points for the first riders to reach designated summits. The number of points and placings on each climb can change depending on its difficulty (harder ranked climbs award more points). If there’s a tie for first, the jersey will go to the rider with the lowest overall time. At the Amgen Tour of California, the leader of the men’s competition will wear a red and white polka dot jersey, while the women’s leader will wear pink and white.




Visit California Sprint Points Competition

From the mountains to the flatlanders, the green points jersey is for the sprinters in the race. Called intermediate sprints, the race gives two small opportunities along the route to pick up points in this competition, with more points offered during the stage finish. Peter Sagan, who not only has the most stage wins at the Amgen Tour of California, also holds the record for most days spent in green (40).




TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Competition

Highly competitive in its own right, the best young rider competition awards a white and black jersey to the rider with the best cumulative time under 25 years old. Like other classification jerseys, it can change hands during the stage race and is also an indicator of future talent. Last year at the Amgen Tour of California, young Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Sky) impressed the world by not only claiming the best young rider competition but the overall title.



Amgen Breakaway Most Courageous Jersey

Unlike the previous jerseys listed above, the most courageous jersey changes owners each day. Also called most aggressive, most combative, or most competitive depending on the race, this jersey is voted on and awarded to the rider who displays the most commitment, perseverance, and dedication during each stage. At the Amgen Tour of California, the jersey is light blue. After the stage podium presentation, the rider with the most courageous jersey gets to wear it the following day.



Team classification

Yes, road racing is very much a team sport, albeit a unique one. Each jersey honor, especially the yellow jersey, is unattainable without help from a strong team. This category goes to the squad with the lowest cumulative time by averaging the top three riders. Team Sky have dominated the team classification the last two years at the Amgen Tour of California.


About the Author

Tom Owen

Tom Owen is a cycling writer who has worked with some of the cycling world's biggest media brands, covering everything from the top levels of the professional sport to bikepacking adventures in the Balkans.