Data visualisations by Chris Jensen

In our series of experimentations with data visualisations, Chris Jensen decided to take a look at who has worn the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for the most days which returned some interesting findings:

1. Eddy Merckx was dominant.

2. Froome has now worn the yellow jersey for 37 days in his career. He can move up to 4th all time if he holds yellow through to Paris.

3. The mix of riders on the list is fascinating. There are all the obvious GC contenders at the top, but Cancellara and Voeckler near are also near the top as well.

4. Be sure to click on Cancellara’s data. It will then highlight his timeline in yellow where you can see that he just keeps racking the days up.

5. You can see a lot of sprinters in there with a few days in yellow.

6. The elephant in the room is the omission of Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France days in yellow. Until his results were were annulled in late 2012, he was ranked second in this list, leading the Tour for 83 stages from 1999 to 2005. Lance’s Tour de France results were excluded from our dataset, but let’s be honest, it was a messy time and I clearly remember Lance wearing yellow for many many days.

NB: The graph is stages in yellow, not days in yellow. There used to be multiple stages in a day, which have been counted. For a specific example in the 1969 tour there was a stage 8a and 8b where Merckx is credited for two stages in yellow.

  • Dave

    The really interesting thing with this (and the previous one looking at stage wins) is that nobody managed to link up stages or yellow jerseys both before and after WWII.

    Most other sports had some level of overlap, even in the European countries most affected by the war.

    • Callum Dwyer

      1947 to 1952 seem be missing. A quick wikipedia search shows RenĂ© Vietto wore the yellow jersey for 11 days 1939 and for 15 days in 1947. Above he has only 16 days in yellow. Also Stuart O’Grady is mention twice. Once as Stuart O’Grady another as Stuart O’Grady. So I’m guessing the data above maybe not 100% right. Happy to be proven wrong.

      • You’re likely right Callum. We’re finding that our dataset is incomplete in those earlier years.

  • Stephen J Schilling

    Your “elephant in the room” point is why we will never get rid of doping in this sport. Qualify it however you want, but the man was stripped of his titles, and they should no longer be mentioned or acknowledged. By anyone.

    • I don’t condone it Stephen, however the hypocrisy of forgetting about the Lance years and acknowledging so many others is absurd. Even very recent winners of grand tours are hard for me to believe in. If I were to take your stance, we may as well shut down this site now. The fight against doping needs to continue, but sadly it will never go away.

      • Nitro

        Agree. To never talk about it would be to pretend it never happened.

        By remembering it, and remembering the mess it made (with echoes clearly still rumbling today), hopefully we move closer to a time where history does not repeat itself again…

        • John Murphy

          It repeats itself with every tour, only with better drugs.

      • David9482

        Agree completely Mr. Wallace – of course what Lance did was horrible, but he wore yellow and he definitely didn’t invent doping, and doping to successfully win the TdF did not end with him.

        Even other 5-time winners very likely were helped. Big Mig had a similar doctor relationship that Lance did, Anquetil famously fought against being tested, and Merckx was not clean either.

        If people follow Mr. Schilling’s idea, we’ll never ever discuss these riders, and as soon as a rider (or athlete) is caught they’re banned and banished forever. My guess is that many Hall of Fame’s and top 100 lists would include very few famous athletes!

  • Bartlomiej Getta

    And Armstrong ? You exclude him you should exclude most of the others from 90s.

  • Nitro

    Totally awesome piece of analysis – hours of statistical analysis fun for the whole family

    As close as we’ll likely get to the resolution of the “Who was the best ever TdF cyclist” argument…

    • Elizabeth Ryan

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