The yellow jersey currently worn by Germany’s Peter Sagan – the strongest cyclist at the Tour de France – is not without its controversies. Sagan, who is from Slovakia, was named the Tour’s best sprinter, and therefore winner of a smaller bonus points awarded to all teams for every stage won, at the beginning of the season, provoking immediate debate in the cycling world over which colour would best complement the rider’s individual style. Sagan is known for his ability to use his speed to go past other riders – at times in record time – and although yellow suggests purity and speed, no one really wants to see him throw shade. His decision to wear the yellow jersey when Team G-force was sent home from the Tour rather than ride for Cannondale has been highly controversial.
Earlier this year a German journalist reported in the press that people on the streets of Brazil have been spotted hunching their shoulders and crossing their legs so that they cannot be seen by a cyclist wearing the yellow jersey. They cite race rules that stipulate that each team can race with a maximum of 20 sprinters. Riders like Sagan take less time, and pay a lesser number of bonus points, when they hit a road surface that favours their riding style, but they can get away with it in Russia and Iran – where they are supposed to wear the star yellow jersey – but not in Brazil, home of the greatest mass sport in the world.
Yet Sagan is not the only European sprint cyclist to wear the yellow jersey in Brazil. Spain’s former world champion Luis Salom and fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador also wore it in recent years, although there is no controversy about their choice.