Jonas Vinzigard had been wearing the famous yellow jersey awarded to the Tour de France leader for almost a week when the question came.
It wasn’t a matter of race strategy, maintaining speed or how best to keep your nerves, but also over days of twisty roads, sharp turns and tough climbs to keep the lead. It wasn’t about fitness or form.
Vinzigard was asked if it would have been easier if he had finished second.
“It would be easier, yes,” he replied. “surely.”
Despite what that means in a sport of honor and respect, obsessed with data and details, the sacred yellow jersey is fraught with a surprising number of flaws and flaws.
For example, teams may spend hours using the wind tunnel to perfect the details of rider positioning, bikes and clothing. If a rider performs well enough to take the lead, is there a reward? A new jersey provided by Santini, the official sponsor of the race, but it may not fit or perform the same.
“It’s a little different,” said two-time Tour winner Tadej Pogacar, who always wears the yellow jersey. “You are not used to it.”
You have the following obligations: After crossing the finish line of each day’s stage, race leaders are tasked with a dizzying array of tasks. He is being interviewed for the tour. He is being interviewed by the official broadcasting partner of the race. He signs several jersey facsimiles. He will be on the podium with a few other riders (a group that includes a stage winner and several other class leaders) for presentations and photo ops.
He then has to navigate a crowd of journalists and a video press conference. The final step, and perhaps the longest step, is doping control. He will be there until nature calls. “If he wasn’t wearing the yellow jersey, he would have been at the hotel an hour earlier every day,” Vinzigard said.
Still, for every other rider, wearing it, even for a day, is the highest honor and obituary front-line moment. “My heart is exploding,” said Yves Rempart, with tears in his eyes, after a surprise victory in the opening time trial last year. “I’m a farmer’s son from Belgium.”
The mystique of the maillot jaune is so well known that you don’t even need to specify a color when you refer to it. It’s jersey, simply put. And in events where yellow is inevitable, fluttering from flags, clinging to sweaty spectators, and even the straps worn around the necks of journalists, organizers, VIPs, and even police officers, yellow is the choice of choice, though yellow isn’t really prevalent in the race itself. . There, its distinctive shade, Pantone Yellow 1000, is meant to be seen only in one place on his race leader’s back. (Race leaders are also known to ride yellow bikes and wear other yellow gear.)
“French fries are ready!” After the 11th stage, an emergency beep breaks out the hustle and bustle around the trailers and trucks that dot the outside of Mulan’s press center. Fabrice Clown laughs and lets go of the standing reporters. After slipping a small block of wood into the mechanism to hold it open, he carefully removes the yellow jersey with the still-steaming logo of Jumbo Visma, Vinzigard’s team.
Piero is Tour’s jersey printer and is tasked with producing special jerseys for the podium and the next day’s race each day. Behind the scenes at the podium the clown takes notes from the riders, but he’s been doing this job for 20 years so he can usually grasp the notes by sight. “This generation, like Pogacar, doesn’t speak a word,” he says. “I like working with them.” On this day, by the time Vinzigard crossed the finish line, almost exactly an hour after he crossed the line, his team bus and all the other team’s The bus had already left. The fence has been removed and the podium is folded into the trailer. He’s been wearing yellow for days and he’s proud of it.
“It’s not very fitting, but it’s okay,” Vinzigard said, a faint smile creeping across his normally stoic face. “I prefer being in a jersey over a regular jersey.”