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Giro feature, May 13, 2008

Giro d'Italia classifications demystified

Most seasoned cycling fans have a grasp on the major Tour de France competitions, but the classifications of the Giro d'Italia can leave even the most veteran commentators scratching their heads. With a dozen separate classifications, it's easy to get confused. Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo explains how each competition works and more!

The coveted maglia rosa
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

To wear any special jersey in the Giro d'Italia is a great honour - one which all riders dream of gaining. If a rider takes the lead in one of the jersey classifications, they get to stand proudly on the podium, get flowers and trophies as well as kisses from the podium girls after the stage. But more importantly the riders who lead either the overall classification or points, mountains or best young rider competition at the end of the stage get to wear a distinctively coloured tunics on the next stage as they defend their position.

How exactly the jerseys are awarded can be a bit mystifying at times, especially when there is a tie, but your friends at Cyclingnews are here to decipher the regulations and give some insight as to why the riders battle so hard for each sprint and mountain.

It turns out that the overall winner takes home more in accolades than he does in cash: 'only' € 90,000 goes to the man on the top step in Milan, compared to the € 450,000 on offer to the Tour de France champion. However, most of the competitions come with daily prizes as well as a bonus for winning the final classification – so in order to cha-ching that cash register, a rider needs to win a few stages along the way, too.

About two-thirds of the total prize purse comes in daily stage prizes - over half a million euros! Cash primes are awarded at each intermediate sprint, mountain sprint, and for stage finishes down to 20th place - starting at €11,000. The overall leader gets € 1,000 per day for the pink jersey, the other three jerseys are awarded € 500 per day, and there is money for the most combative rider, the 'breakaway' rider as well as two team prizes each and every day.

So the fight isn't just for the overall win in Milano - it's a daily battle to bring home the bacon and to make the sponsors happy for all the special attention.

Maglia Rosa (Overall Jersey)

Pellizotti in pink
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Maglia Rosa is the most sought after jersey in the Giro d'Italia. Signifying the leader in the general classification, the shirt inspires even the most manly of men to want to wear pink. But why pink? The jersey colour is the signature shade of the sponsoring newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, whose pages are printed on pink paper.

The jersey is awarded after each stage to the rider with lowest cumulative time. If the top riders are tied exactly on time (for instance, in the team time trial), then the jersey is decided by the riders' position in the stage finish. Should riders be tied on time on the final stage (highly unlikely!), the GC will be determined by the fractions of seconds in the individual time trials. If it is still a tie, the lowest sum of stage finishes throughout the Giro will break the time, and should that fail, the position on the final stage will be the definitive factor.

If a rider holds the lead in another classification other than the overall, he must wear the pink jersey. His other jersey will go to the second placed rider in that classification.

Maglia Ciclamino (Sprinter's Jersey)

The points jersey
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The Maglia Ciclamino derives its name from the Cyclamen flower, which has a purple color. Similar to the Tour de France green jersey, the Maglia Ciclamino is the domain of the sprinters, and is determined by points earned on the finishing line of each day's stage. The rider with the most consistent finishes throughout the race is awarded with the final purple jersey.

The classification is determined by stage finishes which are scored 25 for first, 20 for second, and then 18, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. The points for the Expo Milano 2015 sprints also factor into this competition down to six places at 8 points for first, 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 for second through sixth.

The Maglia Ciclamino doesn't always go to the pure sprinters, however, and because the points are the same for mountain top finishes and flat stages alike, the parcours can determine who takes the final prize home.

In case of a tie on points after a stage, the number of stage wins determines who will wear the jersey. If riders are still tied, then the rider with the most wins in intermediate sprints will take the jersey. If riders are tied at the end of the Giro on points, the rider with the lowest accumulated time will win the jersey.

Maglia Verde (Climber's Jersey)

The green jersey
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Unlike the Tour de France, the climber's jersey in the Tour of Italy doesn't have any of those gaudy polka dots. Instead, it's a subdued green, like the verdant hills of Tuscany or the forested Dolomiti. The climber's jersey is determined by points accumulated at the top of each classified climb along the route.

Bigger mountains earn a rider more points, and the rider having the most accumulated points is awarded the jersey at the end of each stage. Category 3 climbs have three places (3, 2, 1), category 2 also have three (5, 3, 1), category 1 have five scoring places (10, 6, 4, 2, 1) and finally the highest point in the Giro, or 'Cima Coppi' (this year the Passo di Gavia) has six places (20, 15, 12, 10, 6, 4 and 2 points). Mountain top finishes are awarded 15, 10, 6, 4 and 2 points.

In the event of a tie, the jersey is given to the rider with the most wins on category 1 climbs. If still tied, then it goes down to wins on category 2, then category 3.

This year there is one Cima Coppi, four mountain top finishes, nine category one, eight category two and 10 category three climbs.

Maglia Bianca (Young rider's jersey)

The best young rider
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

This is the one competition where the Tour and the Giro share the same color for the same classification. The white jersey, or Maglia Bianca, is given to the rider under the age of 25 who is highest in the overall classification at the end of each stage. Riders born after January 1, 1983 are eligible for this competition.

Last won Andy Schleck in 2007 when the white jersey was re-introduced after a 12 year hiatus.

Expo Milano 2015

Once upon a time there was a jersey competition called the Intergiro classification. It had a blue jersey, and nobody outside of the race jury could figure out exactly how it was awarded. After 18 years of baffling the public, the Giro d'Italia organisers have simplified the intermediate sprint competition. Last year the competition was named in honour of the 200th anniversary of Guiseppe Garibaldi's birth. This year's is called 'Expo Milano 2015' after the next World's Fair which was awarded to the Italian city over Izmir, Turkey.

Each stage (except the time trials) has one intermediate sprint for this competition, and the first five across the line receive points - 5,4,3,2,1. The rider with the most accumulated points at the end of the Giro d'Italia will take home the prize, but no jersey is awarded for the competition this year.

The Expo Milano 2015 sprint also qualifies toward the overall points classification, or the ciclamino jersey, and is awarded with points down to six places at 8,6,4,3,2,1 points.

Furthermore, these intermediate sprints count towards the 'most combative' competition, so the sprints are very valuable to the riders!

Most combative

The Most Combative classification is not like its counterpart in the Tour de France, for example, where riders are awarded points for breaking away and being aggressive during the stage. Instead, it's more like a combination classification, where riders score points for stage finishes, Intergiro sprints, and climbs.

The first six across the finish line receive points (6,5,4,3,2,1) and the first five in the Expo Milano 2015 receive points (5,4,3,2,1) as well as the top finishers on each classified mountain, depending on the category of the hill. Category 3's rate only two places (2, 1) category 2's get three, (3,2,1) and category 1 and Cima Coppi climbs rate four places (4,3,2,1).

Trofeo Fuga Cervelo

The Trofeo Fuga Cervelo is more like the traditional Most Combative prize. Riders score points by getting in breakaways (minimum distance: five kilometres, maximum size of the group: 10 men). The longer the breakaway, the more points are scored, one for each kilometre in the break.

Azzurri d'Italia

The Azzurri d'Italia classification is similar to the points classification, except that it only awards points for the top three stage finishers (4, 2 and 1 point). The only cash prize is the leader at the end of the final stage in Milan, who gets a cool € 5,000.

Trofeo Fast Team and Super Team

The Trofeo Fast Team stage classification is calculated by adding the times of the three best placed rider from each team, except for the team time trial, which is simply the final finishing time of the team including any time penalties. Tie breakers on the general classification are determined by how high the team has placed on each previous stage. If the team drops below three riders remaining in the race, they will be eliminated from the team rankings altogether.

Super Team is a little different to the timed team classification, in that it awards points to teams for placing a rider in the top 20 in the stage: 20 for first, 19 for second and so on down to 1 point for 20th.

Maglia Nera

The last rider on GC is the 'maglia nero'
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The dubious honour of being tagged as last rider on GC returns to the Giro d'Italia this year. The last time the Maglia Nera was given in 1951, riders received a black woolen jersey. Since the UCI has limited the number of jersey competitions to four, all they get this year is their backnumber and bike number on a black background and some good-hearted ribbing from their fellow competitors.

The last rider on GC, Numero Nero, is not to be looked down upon, no! This man is a true survivor who slaves for his team and then suffers through all the levels of hell to claw his way to the finish of the stage. Frequently overcoming illness and crashes - these proud, brave soldiers are gluttons for punishment and deserve to be recognized. But, they don't get anything except the black number to take home as there is no monetary award for last rider in Milan.

Fair Play

Finally, there is the Fair Play classification for teams. This is one where the more points the team has, the lower they are on the classification. It is scored using six criteria: A warning earns 0.50 points; a fine is worth one point for every 10 Swiss francs; a time penalty is worth two points per second; a declassification is worth 100 points; a disqualification/explusion is worth 1000 points; and a positive doping control is worth 2000 points. Penalties can be as mild as a warning for hanging onto the team car, a penalty for drafting on the cars, relegation for 'irregular sprinting' or as severe as expulsion for punching a spectator.

Time cuts

Because stages have varying degrees of difficulty, the fair and resonable Giro d'Italia organisation has based the cuts on the overall average speed of the stage as well as the type of parcours. The stages were divided into five categories:

Category a: Flat
Category b: Medium
Category c: Hard
Category d: High mountain stages
Category e: Time trials

The deadlines have been set as follows, in percentage of the stage winner's total time for the day:

Category a) Stages 9, 12, 13, 17 7% if the average speed is equal to or less than 40 km/h 8% if the average speed is between 40 and 45 km/h. 10% if the average is over 45 km/h.

Category b) Stages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 18 8% if the average speed is less than or equal to 35 km/h 9% if the average is between 35 and 38 km/h 10% if the average is over 38 km/h.

Category c) Stages 7, 11 8% if the average speed is equal to or less than 30 km/h 9% if the average is between 30 and 35 km/h 10% if the average is over 35 km/h.

Category d) Stages 14, 15, 19, 20 15%

Category e) Stages 1, 10, 16, 21 25%

The organisation is also allowed to increase the time cut in the case of exceptional weather conditions, accidents or any recognized incident up to a maximum of 25% of the winner's time.

Prize list

Jersey competitions

Other competitions

Stage finish

1 € 11,101
2 € 5,508
3 € 2,753
4 € 1,377
5 € 1,102
6 € 826
7 € 826
8 € 551
9 € 551
10 - 20th € 276
Total € 26,995

Maglia Rosa

1 € 90,000
2 € 50,000
3 € 20,000
4-10 € 1,500 each

Each day in maglia rosa: € 1,000

Maglia Ciclamino

Daily Points prizes
1 € 800
2 € 500
3 € 200

Each day in maglia ciclamino: € 500

Final points classification
1 € 10,000
2 € 8,000
3 € 6,000
4 € 4,000
5 € 3,000
Total: € 31,000

Maglia Verde
Daily mountains prizes 1 € 700 2 € 400 3 € 200
Each day in maglia verde: € 500 Final mountains classification 1 € 5,000 2 € 4,000 3 € 3,000 4 € 2,000 5 € 1,000 Maglia Bianca
Each day in maglia bianca: € 500 Final young rider classification 1 € 10,000 2 € 8,000 3 € 6,000 4 € 4,000 5 € 2,000
Expo Milano 2015
Daily Expo Milano 2015 sprint primes 1 € 500 2 € 400 3 € 300 4 € 200 5 € 100 Final Expo Milano 2015 classification 1 € 8,000 2 € 6,000 3 € 4,000 4 € 2,000 5 € 1,000 Azzurri d'Italia Final Azzurri d'Italia: € 5,000 Fuga Cervelo
Daily Fuga Cervelo: € 200, Final Fuga Cervelo classification: € 6,000 Most combative
Daily most combative prize:€ 300 Final most combative classification : € 4,000 Trofeo Fast team daily prizes 1 € 500 2 € 300 3 € 100 Final Trofeo Fast Team classification 1 € 7,000 2 € 6,000 3 € 5,000 4 € 3,000 5 € 1,000 Trofeo Super team daily prizes 1 € 500 2 € 300 3 € 100 Final Trofeo Super Team classification 1 € 7,000 2 € 6,000 3 € 5,000 4 € 3,000 5 € 1,000 Fair Play classification 1 € 5,000 2 € 3,000 3 € 1,000 Prize list summary
Daily finishes € 578,340 Final classifications € 289,170 Total: € 867,510 Special prizes Winner € 90,000 2nd place € 50,000 3rd place € 20,000 4th-10th place € 10,500 Daily maglia rosa € 21,000 Points classification € 73,000 Mountains classification € 45,800 Young rider classification € 40,500 Expo Milano 2015 € 46,500 Azzurri d’Italia € 5,000 Fuga Cervelo € 9,400 Most combative € 10,00 Team classification € 40,900 Team points classification € 40,900 Fair play € 9,000 Grand Total prize purse: € 1,380,010

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