Yellow jersey: Geraint Thomas becomes eighth Brit to pull on the Tour de France’s maillot jaune

Which British riders have pulled on the Tour de France's yellow jersey? We've profiled all eight

By winning the opening time trial of the 2017 Tour de France in Dusseldorf, Geraint Thomas became the eighth British rider – and first Welshman – to pull on the yellow jersey in the race’s history.

Thomas bounced back from the disappointment of abandoning the Giro d’Italia to win the 14km time trial ahead of BMC Racing’s Stefan Kung and claim his first Grand Tour stage victory.

Geraint Thomas is the eighth Brit to pull on the yellow jersey (Pic: Sirotti)

It also means a British rider took the opening maillot jaune of the race for the second year running, after Mark Cavendish’s sprint success in 2016.

And, as in 2016, Chris Froome became the second Brit to pull on the jersey in the 2017 race, after replacing Thomas as race leader on La Planche des Belles Filles on stage five.

So which other Brits have led the Tour de France in its 104 editions to date? Here’s the full line-up.

Geraint Thomas

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas became latest British rider to pull on the yellow jersey after claiming an unexpected time trial win in Dusseldorf – ten years after finishing second-last in his first Tour de France appearance.

The Welshman arrived in Germany to embark on his 12th Grand Tour (and eighth Tour de France) and powered to time trial victory in difficult conditions.

Geraint Thomas pulls on the yellow jersey ten years after his first appearance in the race (Pic: Sirotti)

Thomas’ trip to the podium means a British rider has now pulled on the yellow jersey in five of the past six editions of the Tour de France.

The 31-year-old’s maillot jaune adds another line to a glittering CV which includes two Olympic gold medals on the track and road stage race victories at Paris-Nice, the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of the Alps.

Tour de France starts: 8*
Best Tour de France result: 15th (2015, 2016)
Number of yellow jerseys: 4*

Mark Cavendish

Before 2016, the yellow jersey was one of very few major prizes missing from Mark Cavendish’s impressive collection, having previously led the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana and won the points classification at all three Grand Tours.

Cavendish has also been crowned world road race champion and won the national road race in 2013, but missed out on previous shots at the maillot jaune.

Cavendish prepares to roll out in the yellow jersey on stage two of the 2016 Tour de France (pPc: Sirotti)

In 2013, the chaos caused by Orica-GreenEDGE’s team bus getting stuck at the finish line meant Cavendish was held up behind a crash as Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory.

The following year, in Harrogate, it was Cavendish himself who crash on the final straight as Kittel again denied him.

But it proved to be third time lucky in 2016 – the 27th Tour de France stage win of Mark Cavendish sufficient to earn him the yellow jersey for the very first time.

An uphill finish not suited to him on stage two, meant it was a short-lived stint in yellow – but the prestigious jersey has finally been added to the Manxman’s collection.

Tour de France starts: 11*
Best Tour de France result: 130th (2011), 30 stage wins (2008-2013, 2015, 2016), points classification winner (2011)
Number of yellow jerseys: 1*

Chris Froome

Chris Froome holds the British record for the most yellow jerseys – having overtaken Sir Bradley Wiggins’ total of 14 when he assumed the race lead after the third stage in 2015 – and he is now just one short of 60 days in the yellow jersey.

Froome moved into the top five overall on his way to winning the 2016 Tour de France, while the yellow jersey he pulled on after La Plance des Belles Filles – the first mountain stage of the 2017 race – was his 45th.

By the end of the race, having worn the jersey for all but two days from then until Paris, he had taken his total to 59 – fourth in the all-time list.

Chris Froome crosses the finish line for the second of his four Tour de France victories (pic: Sirotti)

While in the yellow jersey, Froome has won some notable stages too – including his Mont Ventoux victory in 2013 and then his stunning win on La Pierre-Saint-Martin in 2015, when he obliterated his rivals on the first real mountain stage of that year’s race.

Aged just 32, and undoubtedly one of the finest Grand Tour riders of the current generation, the Team Sky man will hope to have put the British record on the shelf by the time his Tour career ends.

Tour de France starts: 7*
Best Tour de France result: Winner (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), seven stage wins (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), King of the Mountains winner (2015)
Number of yellow jerseys: 59*

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first Brit ever to win the Tour de France in 2012, on what turned out to be his final appearance at Le Tour.

Wiggins pulled on the yellow jersey on La Planche des Belles Filles and wore it all the way to Paris, where his final act was to lead out Mark Cavendish to stage victory before taking top step on the final podium.

Bradley Wiggins roars across the finish line of the 2012 time trial stage in Chartres (pic: Sirotti)

Wiggins was in yellow during his two Tour de France stage wins, winning the time trial in Besancon and then again in Chartres – where the image of him punching the air as he crossed the finish line, Tour victory all but sealed, became one of the defining moments of a stunning summer of British sport.

Having left Team Sky in April 2015, Wiggins – who also led the Giro and Vuelta – is one of five riders to have finished his Tour de France career with overall victory – Fausto Coppi was the last man to do so before him, some 60 years earlier.

Tour de France starts: 6
Best Tour de France result: Winner (2012), two stage wins (2012)
Number of yellow jerseys: 14

David Millar

Maltese-born Scot David Millar was the first British rider to wear the leader’s jersey in all three Grand Tours, an achievement sealed at the 2011 Giro d’Italia.

By that point he had already worn the Tour de France’s yellow jersey three times, and also – uniquely for a Brit – worn the green jersey of points classification leader, polka dot jersey of King of the Mountains leader and white jersey of best young rider during his career.

David Millar wore all four Tour de France jerseys during his career (pic: Sirotti)

Millar’s yellow jerseys arrived in 2000, when he won the 16km stage one individual time trial at the Futuroscope theme park.

He held it until the stage four team time trial, when Laurent Jalabert succeeded him and, surprisingly, never wore it again despite some near misses.

In Paris in 2003, Millar lost the prologue by just 0.14s after his chain dropped just 500m from the finish line when his team opted to ride a bike without a front derailleur.

Then, in 2013, Millar was denied the yellow jersey by just inches – Jan Bakelants’ solo win on stage two gave him a one-second lead overall; photographs later showed the peloton had been just inches from gaining the same time as Bakelants, a result which would have put Millar in yellow instead.

Tour de France starts: 12
Best Tour de France result: 55th (2003), four stage wins (2000, 2002, 2003, 2012)
Number of yellow jerseys: 3

Chris Boardman

Chris Boardman’s ability against the clock, which saw him crowned world time trial champion in 1994, also saw the Merseysider lead the Tour de France in 1994, 1997 and 1998.

Victories in the opening time trials in each earned him six yellow jerseys in total, with his 1994 win having been the fastest ever Tour de France time trial at the time – a record only broken in 2015 by Rohan Dennis.

Chris Boardman won the prologues of the 1994, 1997 and 1998 Tours (pic: Sirotti)

In 1998, Boardman won the prologue in Dublin but later crashed out of the race while in the yellow jersey – crashes having been a recurrent theme in his Tour de France career.

That, and difficulties first with low hormone levels – making recovery difficulty between stages – and then osteopenia meant optimistic predictions of Boardman becoming Britain’s first Tour winner proved wide of the mark.

Nevertheless, Boardman is widely revered by British cycling fans thanks to his exploits at a time when high-profile British riders were few and far between.

Tour de France starts: 6
Best Tour de France result: 39th (1996), three stage wins (1994, 1997, 1998)
Number of yellow jerseys: 6

Sean Yates

In a race which had already seen Boardman pull on the yellow jersey for the first time with his record-breaking time trial, another Brit also earned his own moment in the sun later in the race.

Boardman won the prologue in Lille, but had ceded the yellow jersey when the race crossed the channel for two stages from Dover to Brighton and then in Portsmouth.

Upon its return to France the following day, however, Sean Yates – better known for his work as a domestique – assumed the race lead after joining a late break with 25km to go.

Gianluca Bortolami won the stage, but Yates finished two seconds back – enough to hold a one-second lead over the Italian overall.

One of Britain’s true hard men of the peloton only wore the jersey for a single day but the race was the only one to see two different Brits wear yellow until Cavendish and Froome did so in 2016.

Tour de France starts: 12
Best Tour de France result: 45th (1989), one stage win (1988)
Number of yellow jerseys: 1

Tom Simpson

The first British man to be crowned world road race champion was also the first British man to pull on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

At the 1962 race, on his way to a career-best sixth overall, Simpson took the race lead from Willy Schroeders in the Pyrenees at Saint-Gaudens.

Tom Simpson was the first Brit to wear the yellow jersey (pic: Sirotti)

An 18.5km mountain time trial the following day proved to be Simpson’s only day as race leader, however, with Jef Planckaert’s second place on the day enough to overhaul the Brit.

Ultimately, Simpson – riding for the VC XII team – finished 17.09 behind Jacques Anquetil overall, but the successes of 1962 were never to be repeated.

He only finished the Tour de France once more, coming 14th in 1964, before his untimely death on Mont Ventoux in 1967.

Tour de France starts: 7
Best Tour de France result: 6th (1962)
Number of yellow jerseys: 1


*As of July 23, 2017

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