The polka-dot jersey of the Tour de France will display the colours of a new major sponsor starting in 2019, as the leader of the French retail market, E.Leclerc, joins forces with A.S.O. to reward the best climber in the peloton.
E.Leclerc, which is throwing its weight behind the Tour de France to consolidate its strong regional roots, will also support elite cycling on the roads of Paris–Nice and Paris–Roubaix, as well as the Étape du Tour sportive events.
A.S.O. adds that the mountains are the jewels of the crown of the Tour de France… ‘Climbers who wear the polka-dot jersey share strong emotions with the masses, which appreciate the panache and bravery of the mountain men.’ This emotional connection with the fans reportedly appealed to E.Leclerc, which also targets a wide public and works hard to strengthen its ties to the various regions of France.
Michel-Édouard Leclerc, General Manager of the E.Leclerc Movement said “It is the third most watched sports event in the world. It puts the spotlight on our beautiful regions with three weeks of jaw-dropping panoramas. Millions of people who are passionate about cycling or simply revel in the festive atmosphere come together on the roadsides to celebrate cycling in good spirit.
“For E.Leclerc, which has been working for 65 years to promote the culinary heritage of our regions and the best their artisans have to offer, the partnership with the Tour is only natural!”
Christian Prudhomme, Head of the A.S.O. Cycling Division added, “I am delighted to welcome aboard the Tour de France a brand that is as close to its customers as the Tour is to its fans. The polka-dot jersey is extremely popular because it stands for courage and a down-to-earth character. I am sure that E.Leclerc and the fans of the Tour will make a perfect match. Bringing the wealth of the French culinary and sporting heritage to as many people as possible has the same symbolic importance for both our companies.”
Joop Zoetemelk pulled on the first ever polka-dot jersey of the Tour de France on 27 June 1975. The mountains classification had existed since 1933, but it had lacked a distinctive jersey until then. The ‘jockey outfit’ – as Jacques Goddet described it tongue-in-cheek at its launch – has marked several eras: after Belgian Lucien Van Impe, who fought for it eagerly and successfully (six victories), the polka-dot jersey went to several generations of Colombian mountain goats (Herrera, Soler, Quintana, etc.), was won a record-breaking seven times by Richard Virenque, and again aroused the cheers of the fans on the shoulders of Julian Alaphilippe this June.
E.Leclerc’s 681 shops make it a leader of the French grocery retail market. Since it was established in 1949, it has worked to offer low prices and a ‘unique economic model based on a decentralised, cooperative and participative organisational structure’.
‘The members of the E.Leclerc Movement are independent entrepreneurs with a common goal: making it easier for everyone to live better while spending less. These members, who are very active in their communities, make long-term investments to make sure E.Leclerc shops meet the expectations of their customers and protect their purchasing power every day.’
Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) creates and organises leading sports events. It specialises in non-stadium competitions and organises 210 days of competition per year, with 75 events in 25 countries. It is active in five sporting arenas. Its flagship events are the Tour de France in cycling, the Dakar in rally driving, the Tour Voile in yachting, the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris in events for the general public, and the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in golf. Amaury Sport Organisation is a subsidiary of the Groupe Amaury, the media and sports group that owns L’Équipe.