Brancale Stories: Combination Classification Jersey June 30 2016

Remembering the Combination Classification Jersey at the Tour de France...

It has been a long time since 1989 when the last combination classification jersey was awarded at the Tour de France. First introduced in 1968, the competition was intended to identify the best all-round rider in the Tour by combining the general, mountain and sprint (both intermediate and final) classifications. The best part about it was the multi-colored jersey awarded to the combination classification leader.

The jersey featured random patches of green, red, white and yellow across the top half of the jersey with red polka dots on the bottom half. It was an explosion of color and a patchwork of all of the Tour’s leader jerseys. In short, it was awesome (note: in earlier years it was actually noted by a white jersey but then that later became the best young rider jersey).

Dutchman Steven Rooks of the PDM team has the distinction of being the last rider to win the competition. He repeated in both 1988 and 1989. Before him, French great Jean-Francois Bernard took home the jersey in 1987 when he was touted as the next Bernard Hinault. And before that, American Greg LeMond won the combination classification in both 1985 and 1986, when he also won his first Tour.

Strangely, the jersey has disappeared and reappeared throughout the Tour’s history. It first began in 1968 when Italian rider Franco Bitossi won the competition. The next four years (1969-1972) were dominated by the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx and he again took home the jersey in 1974. Then, for some strange reason 7 years after its introduction, the combination classification jersey disappeared, only to reappear again in 1980. The reappearing jersey was taken that year by Belgian Ludo Peeters. Bernard Hinault dominated the competition in 1981 and 1982.

The disappearing act continued. In 1983 and 1984 there was no multi-colored jersey found among the peloton racing across the roads of France. Clearly, the combination classification and its colorful jersey have come in and out of favor with the Tour organizers over the years.

We think it’s time it was reintroduced. If for any other reason, to be able to see that incredible jersey with its patchwork of color in the peloton again. Alas, this may require some patience as there are no plans to bring back the competition. In the meantime, Brancale has launched a new pair of socks modeled on the combination classification jersey for those nostalgic for the old days.