The Dotted Jumper

The Dotted Jumper

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I’m not sure if it’s because I’m too fat to climb and therefore admire those who aren’t, or if it has something to do with the masochistic nature of sprinting to the top of every hill during a three-week race, but the competition for the best climber in the Tour de France has long captured my imagination.

The ugliest of all jerseys, it is also somehow the coolest one, despite the many abominations that have been created in the recent trends of matching the rest of one’s kit to competition leader jerseys. Who would have the nerve to design a jersey made up of a pattern or red dots? The French, apparently.

I first noticed it in the 1988 and 1989 Tours. Here were these crazy, tall, lanky Dutchmen dominating the mountains. The Dutch are flat landers for whom, aside from those living in the Southern province of Limburg, the phrase “Living at Elevation” means living at three meters. But it turns out that tall Dutch guys can climb, as is routinely demonstrated by Robert Gesink in his countless mountain escapades – not to mention in yesterday’s finale up to Morzine-Avoriaz.

Recent memory has this jersey particularly stained by drug scandals, but a review of what is involved in challenging for – let alone winning – this jersey makes it somewhat easier to appreciate that a little dose of EPGo might help out. The jersey is decided based on points awarded at the summit of each categorized climb along the route based on the following scale (from Wikipedia):

  • Hors Catégorie climbs: 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st until the 10th rider to climb the mountain.
  • First category climbs: 15, 13, 11, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st until the 8th rider to climb the mountain.
  • Second category climbs: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points respectively for the 1st until the 6th rider to climb the mountain.
  • Third category climbs and hills : 4, 3, 2 and 1 point, respectively for the 1st until the 4th rider to climb the hill.
  • Fourth category climbs (hills): 3, 2, and 1 point, respectively for the 1st until the 3rd rider to climb the hill.

Consider, then, the profiles of mountain stages like we’ll have tomorrow to St.-Jean-de-Maurienne, and the weight of this competition starts to weigh heavy on the legs. Climbing these mountains in the first place is hard enough, but to add a sprint to the top of them is something else altogether. Drugs or not, that requires a heaping spoonful of Rule #5 and an intimate exploration of the depths of  Rule #10. Personally, I think Jérôme Pineau might just be mad enough to try for it this year, although it might also come down to Gesink if he were to give up his GC ambitions for the chance to take home the Spotted Tog.

In any case, whoever wins it will have my admiration. And then I’ll hold my breath in anticipation of the doping suspension.

// Nostalgia // Racing

  1. I loathe climbing more than hemorrhoids.

  2. @Cyclops
    I’ve not had hemorrhoids, so I can’t compare. I climb and descend like a stone, but I love the climbing. I love the pain and the constant reminder that I’m not 60kg.

  3. @Cyclops
    Are you saying to do or don’t loathe climbing? I am going to go ahead and assume you do, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions. To each their own, and all that. Maybe it’s your thing, who knows.

    Yeah, me too. There’s no other time you can ride at a consistent pain level like that. Like you say, “I climb well for my weight.

    I’m anxious to get out to John’s place and ride Haleakalakakakaloogie. But I won’t be sprinting for points at the top, that’s for damn sure.

  4. This might be a spot off topic, but do pro riders ever use oxygen tents for simulating altitude and increasing red blood cell count (sleep high/train low)? How does that go over with the blood passport? I live at almost 2000m and just did some nice climbs closer to sea level this past weekend. What a difference a little oxygen makes.

  5. @pakrat

    they don’t bother, they just use EPO

  6. @pakrat
    Well, I think those tents are banned these days; back in the early 2000’s, the likes of riders like Pharmstrong and Ullrich had altitude tents installed and used them openly.

    But, at this stage – like Andy is joking about – it’s pretty clear that they did that in conjunction with EPO and autologous blood transfusions; my pessimistic view would be that they probably used that to justify any suspicious changes in hematorit.

    My own altitude training definitely shows what you’re talking about; go high and you can go at a large percent of your maximum for a long time. But I also notice that my top speed seems to drop when I do that; I can go long and hard, but not as fast. Anyone else notice that, too?

  7. @frank
    I’m with you Frank, and Kermit but I really suck at climbing and I still love it. I don’t like getting dropped by most everyone but the constant dancing along the edge of aerobic pleasure to anaerobic dysfunction is fun, the rhythm is great it and makes me all dumb-like afterward.

    Re: Altitude, We lived at 2000m two winters ago and it took a month to adjust to it but the rides at lower elevation were pretty easy afterward. Top end speed, I can’t comment as I don’t have any unless we are talking descending.

    Re: Spotted jumper to spotted bike; I love that shit. I love the pink Giro bikes too. I’m twisted. Too bad Cadel’s special yellow bike only lasted one day.

  8. @john
    That bike Cadel had was all class. I love lugged frames, and one of my deepest regrets is that I’ve never owned a Colnago C-40 with those sweet carbon lugs – not to mention the Cervelo R2.5 that had those, too. Man, that’s a classy look. Don’t even get me started on steel lugs, or those alu lugs on the Lotus, TVT, and Look frames. Mercy!

    But I digress. That was a class act, that frame. I love that the lugs were yellow. Stunning! As for your call on colors; leave it up to this sport – the toughest of all – to make the best riders wear rainbows, pink, dots, and yellow. Respect.

  9. @frank
    Right on cue, if you wonder if this is a tough enough sport, check out the “after” on Brother Grimpeur the Elder’s shoulder:
    (not embedding because not everyone may want to look…)

  10. @frank
    Ouch! Is that an Amazonian millipede on his shoulder?

  11. @frank
    Speaking of custom paint jobs for special bikes, just after Phil and Paul had mentioned that poor old Sammy Sandshoe doesn’t get a special jersey despite being Olympic champ, the camera spent some time on a close-up of the man himself showing gold bar tape and a gold seat. Nice touch.

    And, speakingof the Phil and Paul show, anyone else catch their interchange on the descent off Madeleine along these lines, re Sammy Sandshoe:

    Phil: “Ooh, he’s not much of a descender is he? He’s really fighting it.”
    Paul (diplomatically): “Actually, he’s normally a pretty good descender Phil”.
    Paul (less diplomatically, but after five mintues have passed so that Phil will have forgotten his previous nonsense): “Sanchez is an extremely good descender – one of the best in the business” (or words to that effect).

    On a slow day it would be amusing. On an action-packed day of drama like today it’s just silly.

  12. @Geof
    Phil makes me mad and I love him at the same time. Paul is a star. The two of them, well…it’s really all I know. And I love it. Phil, for me – at the end of the day – is the voice of cycling. Sherwin started to help out in ’86, but all the awful overdubbed commentary for the first videos I had – ’89 and ’90 (which I wore out) were all just him. The soundtrack on the ’89 video was just classic. Was that Kraftwerk?

    Teeny Bettini had classy Gold Ladies instead of White Ladies:

    And, in a slightly less sexy light:

  13. @frank

  14. @Geof
    It could be the light, but his back wheel doesn’t look like the big winner from the deal.

  15. Just as a note on the scoring, and a de-digression (I love the digressions btw) they double the value of the points if it’s a mountaintop finish. So it’s very heavily skewed to the stages with mountaintop finishes. So Stages 14 & 17 are the key remaining ones for the dotted jumper.

    Tourmalet baby! I’m excited just thinking about it.

    And back to the digressions, think about all of the teams that have to destroy the custom kit they make “just in case” one of their boys gets a jersey! The bikes get paint jobs I’d reckon, but the clothes? Destroyed you’d think.

  16. Whilst I respect the traditions of the sport, the polka dot jersey is one tradition that I would not miss. The only things uglier are the dresses that the podium chicks have to wear when presenting the jersey!

  17. Bzzz, WRONG.

  18. @Pistolfromwarragul
    not even in a subtle way?

  19. @Pistolfromwarragul
    I thought those polka dot umbrella dresses were awesome! remember, they’re for pr purposes and meant to get your attention. They certainly did that. There’s really no need for any practical application unlike cycling gear where, I’ll admit, the tendency to make everything yellow, green, dotty, pink, WC bands etc, etc is bad.Sometime, just the jersey alone with regular team kit is enough. 9I’d post examples of this if I had the skillz.

  20. @wiscot

    @PistolfromwarragulI thought those polka dot umbrella dresses were awesome! remember, they’re for pr purposes and meant to get your attention. They certainly did that. There’s really no need for any practical application unlike cycling gear where, I’ll admit, the tendency to make everything yellow, green, dotty, pink, WC bands etc, etc is bad.Sometime, just the jersey alone with regular team kit is enough. 9I’d post examples of this if I had the skillz.

    Agree, love the Dotty Jumper and would love to jump a Dotty-Jumper-dressed-podium girl and play connect-the-dots as well!

  21. The Maillot a Pois has gotten a bad rep in recent years because of all the doping and overly matched kit. But Rooks here pictured again, shows pure Polka-dot class:

    In sharp contrast to this.

    I think that just for the fact that the competition involves putting sprints at the top of the biggest mountain passes in Europe makes it cool, regardless of the design of the jersey. I mean, have you ridden one of those passes? Sprinting is not what comes to mind at the top. At least not for me.

  22. @frank
    the matching dots is kinda funky whacky, but you do have a point when you compare it to Rooks who looks more interested in nailing the summit, than winning a fashion parade

  23. @frank
    Thank you. Your superior IT skillz make my point exactly. Rooks is class – it’s about earning and wearing a particular jersey; with Rasmussen it’s become a pathetic “fashion” exercise wherein someone wants to see how far they can take a color/design theme. Including the bike, there are seven elements with red dots (I think the glasses are dotty), that’s just too many. I could see some dotty gloves being a fun accessory, but everything bar the shoes? Ridiculous.

  24. I loath the so called dotted jumper…..As a big powerful man who climbs like a obese  bassett hound I much prefer the Maglia Rosa to cover my substantial belly.

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