Explaining the Colorful Jerseys of the Giro d’Italia

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Giro d’Italia’s Jersey Colors: What They MeanTim de Waele - Getty Images

When thinking about jerseys, our brains often default to the Tour de France. Why? Because there’s no bigger race than the Grande Boucle.

Leaders wear yellow, sprinters wear green, climbers wear polka dots, and young guns wear white. But when it comes to Grand Tours, those jerseys only apply to the Tour de France (mostly). Cycling’s two other Grand Tours, the Vuelta a España and the Giro d’Italia, have their own jerseys to correspond with their races’ four classifications.

And seeing as we’re on the eve of this year’s Giro, let’s look at the jerseys of the season’s first and most difficult Grand Tour.

Maglia Rosa: Overall Leader

Known as the maglia rosa (which, you can probably guess, means “pink jersey” in Italian), the pink jersey goes to the Giro’s overall leader in the general classification race.

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Filippo Ganna, wearing the overall leader’s pink jersey, as he competes in Stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia 2021.LUCA BETTINI - Getty Images

“Why pink?” You might be wondering. Well, because Italians are always going to have a beautiful flair for the dramatic. But, more accurately, the jersey is pink because the Giro d’Italia was originally created by the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, which has been printed on pink paper since the late 1800s.

At the end of the Giro’s three weeks, the man in pink will be the one hoisting the race’s trophy, which is called the “Trofeo Senza Fine,” or the “Endless Trophy.” (Remember: Italians, dramatic flair.)

Maglia Ciclamino: Best Sprinter

Next is the purple jersey, which, in the Giro, goes to the leader of the points classification. In Italian, it’s called the maglia ciclamino (“chik-lamino”).

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Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ in the ciclamino (purple) jersey sprints to a stage win during the 105th Giro d’Italia in 2022.Tim de Waele - Getty Images

As available points are weighted toward sprint stages, it’s easy to think of the points jersey as the race’s best sprinter (though that’s not always the case). As Grand Tours are virtually impossible for sprinters to win, sprinters are angling for the points classification. And in Italy, that means they’re racing purple. Well, I guess in Italy, it means they’re racing for ciclamino.

Scoring for the ciclamino is a bit complicated, as each stage is broken down into three categories (two of which include two categories each. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.) Bear in mind that the race also includes daily intermediate sprints, which are their own category, so it’s not just about the finish line. Scoring in the points classification goes as follows:

  • A and B category (flat sprint stages): 50, 35, 25, 18, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points

  • C category: 25, 18, 12, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points

  • D and E category: 15, 12, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points

  • Intermediate sprints: 12, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points

Maglia Azzurra: Best Climber

The maglia azzurra is the blue jersey awarded to the race’s best climber. As the Giro is known for its punishing climbs, this is one of the most important jerseys in racing. Sometimes, as climbing is essential to winning a Grand Tour, the blue and pink jerseys are worn by the same rider. Of course, that’s not always the case, and often, the maglia azzurra is won by a climbing domestique.

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Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), wearing the maglia azzurra, celebrates at the finish line as stage winner in the 105th Giro d’Italia 2022.Tim de Waele - Getty Images

The Giro breaks climbs down into five categories, with Category 1 climbs being the hardest and Category 4 climbs being the easiest. Above Category 1 is the Cima Coppi, which is the summit of the highest point in the race. Mountain scoring is far more straightforward than the breakdown for the points classification. Points available on each type of climb are as follows:

  • Cima Coppi - 50, 30, 20, 14, 10, 6, 4, 2, and 1 points

  • Category 1 climbs - 40, 18, 12, 9, 6, 4, 2, and 1 points

  • Category 2 climbs - 18, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1 points

  • Category 3 climbs - 9, 4, 2, and 1 points

  • Category 4 climbs - 3, 2, and 1 points

Maglia Bianca: Best Young Rider

The one constant across the jerseys of the three Grand Tours is the white jersey. In Italian, it’s called the maglia bianca and, like in the Tour and the Vuelta, is awarded to the best young rider. Unlike the maglias azzurra and ciclamino, and their more complicated points breakdowns, the race for the maglia bianca is simple: the highest rider in the general classification rankings under the age of 25 wins the white jersey.

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Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-QuickStep celebrates at the podium wearing the white jersey for the best young rider during the 106th Giro d’Italia in 2023.Tim de Waele - Getty Images

As all four jerseys must be worn every day (after all, companies pay good money to sponsor each jersey), should any rider hold two jerseys, the second-place rider in each category will wear one of the jerseys. In other words, should Tadej Pogačar be in pink and blue at the same time, the second-best climber gets to wear the blue jersey.

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