La Vuelta jerseys – who gets to wear them and why?

The 2023 La Vuelta cycling event is almost upon us. This huge road cycling contest begins on August 26th, and it won’t reach its conclusion until September 17th. This shows three weeks of world-class cycling for us all to enjoy, and like always, the 2023 event should be another classic. However, rather than covering the likely winners or specific details of the courses, my focus here is to explain the many La Vuelta jerseys for you. After all, like all of these World Tour events, there are various jerseys in play that certain individuals are gunning for.

La Vuelta Jerseys

These are almost like mini competitions within a much larger competition, and for some of these La Vuelta jerseys, the battles to secure such jerseys are intense. Some might even say that they are as intense as the battles to win the overall tour, although that’s open to individual interpretations. 

Anyway, with a number of 2023 La Vuelta jerseys to get through, and with this event approaching quickly, let’s get right into the key information now.

The Red Jersey – Maillot Rojo

Of the many La Vuelta jerseys that feature in this event, the famous ‘Maillot Rojo’ is the one that the main contenders are constantly pursuing. Of course, this jersey is the one worn by the general classification leader, otherwise known as the rider who is in first place. Therefore, on any race day that unfolds, which can be tracked through the La Vuelta schedule, the guy that you see wearing red is the current leader. Or translated another way, this rider has completed the respective stages in the fastest time when compared with everybody else. 

As for who ends up wearing the red jersey, it’s usually the team leader for any individual team. After all, these are the guys that the team prioritizes in order to secure an overall victory, and it’s very rare that anyone but a team leader is seen in the Maillot Rojo. Finally, I should point out that La Vuelta does offer time bonuses for stage and sprint finishes too, which does alter the times in the general classification standings. 

The Green Jersey

Okay, we’ve now covered the most significant of all the La Vuelta jerseys that you will see in 2023. However, while the red jersey captures the bulk of the attention, the green jersey is the one that the true adrenaline junkies focus on. To clarify, the green jersey symbolizes the rider that has racked up the most points, which is why the green jersey is often synonymous with sprinters. But technically speaking, it’s not always a ‘sprinters jersey’, not in these major tours anyway. 

Yet since most of the stages held during La Vuelta lead to sprint finishes, this automatically means that sprinters end up racking up most of the points. If this sounds somewhat confusing, allow me to explain further. Referring back to the red jersey, I stated that time bonuses are awarded for stage and intermediate sprint winners. But when it comes to the points associated with the finish line, there are points handed out for the first 15 riders to finish. The winner gets 25, 2nd place gets 20, 3rd place gets 16, and the points diminish from that point onwards. 

And that’s exactly why those that engage in sprint finishes end up wearing the green jersey – most of the time. Finally, for those who are interested, I’ve covered some La Vuelta odds and tips regarding who might be seen in the respective jerseys for 2023.

The Polka Dot Jersey

If you are a cycling fan, you probably have an idea of what the famous polka dot jersey stands for already. This is the jersey that comes with the title of the ‘king of the mountains’, which tells you exactly what it stands for. Of course, the polka dot jersey is also used in major tours like the Tour de France too. But in the case of La Vuelta, the points that are issued for mountain passes and categorized climbs are based on a three-category system – unlike the four-category system in the Tour de France. 

Simply put, the more extreme the climb, the more points are available that count towards the polka dot jersey. As for this jersey’s appearance, it is pretty easy to see with its blue spots.

The White Jersey

Of the four La Vuelta jerseys discussed here, the white jersey is often the most misunderstood. So allow me to clarify what the white jersey actually means in La Vuelta. Basically, this jersey is given to the rider that ranks as the best from the three categories relating to the La Vuelta jerseys shown above. However, since La Vuelta works on a ranking system, with one being the most desirable position, it’s the individual with the lowest total that gets the white jersey. Once again, this relates to the GC standings, total points, and mountain-related points.

For example, if a rider was 2nd in the GC, 4th in the mountains, and 3rd on points, his total would be 9 (2+4+4). And if no other rider had fewer than 9, this rider would be in the white jersey.

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About the author

Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the United Kingdom. He has previously played NCAA college tennis in the USA and competed in many international events throughout his younger days. He still plays competitively and follows both the ATP & WTA Tours closely. His favourite player is Roger Federer.