The red polka dot T-shirt, which marks the rider at the top of the Tour de France – the best climber of the Tour – theoretically, but usually overshadowed by the climbing skills of the yellow T-shirt.
Points are accumulated in the competition by the riders separately and are awarded at the top of each climb by category during the Tour. Lifts are classified from the .HC category (Hors category) to the fourth category. The categorization of each ascent is decided by the organizers before the race and, as a rule, is based on the length and steepness of each ascent.
The King of the Mountains classification was first introduced during the Tour de France in 1933. It was 30 years after the first edition of the Tour and the 27th Tour de France. However, polka dot knitwear was presented as a business card of the competition only in 1975. The first rider to wear it was Jopp Zoetemelk, although the winner of that year’s classification was Lucien Van Impe. The big winner of the Tour de France that year was Eddie Merck, who took second place in the elusive polka dot competition.
Until 1933, L’Auto awarded the prize “Best Climbers”. The individual racer was chosen by the newspaper that organized the Tour de France at the time. The winners of this competition are not the official winners of the Tour de France classification, as the prize is not awarded by the organization of the Tour, but it is the predecessor of the modern classification of the King of the Mountains.
Record-holder in polka dot knitwear
Richard Wirenke has won the most King of the Mountains categories in the history of the Tour de France. The Frenchman won it seven times between 1994 and 2004, possibly overshadowed by the exploits, later erased, of a Texan … Lucian Van Impe and Eagle Toledo Federico Bahamontes held the record for Virenke with six wins each.
- Richard Virenke – 7
- Lucien Van Impe – 6
- Federico Bahamontes – 6
- Julio Jimenez – 3
Eleven riders have twice won the King of the Mountain category, including Eddie Merck, Fausto Koppi, Charlie Gall and Rafal Mike. Tadej Pogačar – the last rider to receive the second polka dot shirt – he won the shirt at the Tour de France 2020 and 2021.
The latest winners of polka dot knitwear
Tadei Pogachar is the last winner of the King of the Mountains rating. He won the polka dot T-shirt in addition to the yellow and white T-shirts for the 2020 and 2021 Tour de France for his first two Tour de France.
- 2021 – Thaddeus Pogachar
- 2020 – Tadeusz Pogachar
- 2019 – Romain Bardet
- 2018 – Julian Alaphilipp
- 2017 – Warren Bargill
- 2016 – Rafal Mike
- 2015 – Chris Froome
- 2014 – Rafal Mike
- 2013 – Nairobi Quintana
- 2012 – Thomas Fokler
- 2011 – Samuel Sanchez
He is not the only racer who has recently won both the King of the Mountains and the general classification. Chris Froome achieved this success for Team Sky in 2015. Nairo Quintana also came close in 2013 when he won the polka dot shirt and took second place in CG.
GC and the polka dot jersey were won by the same runner eleven times in eight different runners. Fausto Koppi, Eddie Merckx and Gino Bartali are three racers who have achieved this feat.