Lance’s wheel, the yellow jersey, and the green jacket Matt 11 Jul 2005

4 comments Latest by Adam C posts about how graffiti legend Futura (that’s a person, not the font) designed the symbols that adorn the wheel Lance Armstrong used in Stage 1 of the Tour de France. There’s a little Eiffel Tower, a map of Texas, an “LIG” for his kids’ initials, and more.

Speaking of Lance, there’s a powerful ad at Nike’s Wear Yellow site that shows the press conference where he announced he has cancer.

So how did the whole yellow jersey thing get started? According to this history of the Tour, partway through the 1919 race it occurred to Tour organizer Henri Desgrange that the race leader ought to wear something distinctive since spectators along the route often had no idea who was winning. He decided on a yellow jersey, mainly because L’Auto, the newspaper Desgrange edited that sponsored the race, was printed on yellow paper. So the famous “maillot jaune” was born.

That got me wondering about that other iconic piece of colorful sports clothing, the Masters’ green jacket. says the tradition of the green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club dates to 1937. That year, members of the club wore green jackets during the tournament so that fans in attendance could easily spot them if they needed to ask questions. Soon the jacket became the symbol of membership at the club and the presentation of one to the winner of The Masters symbolized that golfer’s entry into the exclusive club of Masters champions.

4 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Geof Harries 11 Jul 05

I’d love to hear how the TdF originally came up with the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey design. Most other cyclists I talk to are split on the design - some love it, some think it’s simply nasty.

Personally, with fond memories of Richard Virenque or Bjarne Riis quietly blazing up the Alps with the KOM jersey intact, I really dig it. Gotta love that old school style.


LNJ 11 Jul 05

Jerseys and the like are a facinating subject. The histories and stories behing them are usually amusing, almost always spellbinding, and occationally downright freaky.

As for the polka dot jersey, the design is essentially an ad: The jersey’s initial sponsor was Poulain, a chocolate maker whose product was packaged in polka-dot-patterned wrappers. So, like the yellow jersey because of the yellow paper, you get a jersey to match a product. Although, the King of the Mountain was introduced in the 30’s I don’t think that a polka dot jersey was awarded until sometime in the late 60’s. Anyone have the facts on this?

Ed 11 Jul 05

Haha: “It’s a little hard to link, since they’re stuck in the late dot-com bubble, and build every page in Flash. Just click on anything that moves for a while and it’s bound to come up eventually.”

Adam C 11 Jul 05

Interesting sorta/kinda related story. The Mini Cooper’s iconic checkerboard roof was brought about so specators could easily spot it during races. I think there’s an interesting story behind everything.