The Maillot Sable classification

by CyclingTips


There’s a new (and very unofficial) classification at the Tour de France. Its list of winners is long and illustrious, full of names like Richie Porte, Bauke Mollema, and Thomas Voeckler. It is the Hour Classification, the sand-coloured maillot sable, handed to the rider closest to one hour behind on the general classification.

What is it?

The maillot sable, like all good classifications, requires a combination of strength and tactical nous. A rider must carefully time his descent down the GC so that he hits the hour mark just as he reaches Paris. He must hit 60 minutes behind – 59:59 does not count. It’s reverse Price Is Right rules.

It was invented under a curtain of rosé on a boring sprint stage earlier this Tour, as Caley and Rupert sought something to spice up that day’s podcast episode. But really, it’s always existed, it’s just that nobody knew about it.

Now, they do.

Let’s take a look at the current state of the 2019 Tour de France Maillot Sable:

As of stage 17, currently leading the classification is Wout Poels at a very precise 1:00:11 behind yellow jersey wearer Julian Alaphillipe. However, as any podcast listener will already know, achieving a Sable stage win with so many mountain stages to go all but precludes a rider from taking the overall in Paris. With three major stages through the Alps left, any contender for the overall will want a healthy buffer between themselves and the one hour mark. Riders between 30 and 45 minutes behind as of Wednesday’s stage to Gap are clearly eyeing the overall.

This made-up classification, of course, offers no disrespect the rider who wins it. As you can see below, the past 20 years has seen some world-class riders take home the still-uninvented Maillot Sable.

Previous winners over the past 20 years include:

2018 – MOLLEMA, Bauke [1:06:33]
2017 – CHAVANEL, Sylvain [1:04:22]
2016 – KANGERT, Tanel [1:03:59]
2015 – KREUZIGER, Roman [1:02:51]
2014 – PORTE, Richie [1:01:08]
2013 – KLODEN, Andreas [1:02:43]
2012 – VOECKLER, Thomas [1:04:41]
2011 – THOMAS, Geraint [1:00:48]
2010* – AERTS, Mario [1:01:57]
2009 – IVANOV, Serguei [1:00:21]
2008 – FOTHEN, Markus [1:01:04]
2007 – GOUBERT, Stephane [1:06:30]
2006* – MAZZOLENI, Eddy [1:01:43]
2005* – GARZELLI, Stefano [1:00:09]
2004* – VOIGT, Jens [1:00:48]
2003* – ASTARLOZA, Mikel [1:01:12]
2002* – BRANDT, Chistophe [1:00:33]
2001* – ATIENZA, Daniel [1:00:26]
2000* – LELLI, Massimilano [1:00:03]
1999* – CASTELBLANCO, Jose Joaquin [1:00:28]

Note that there have been no repeat winners of the Maillot Sable (since 1999 at least), a testament how difficult it is to win!

2019 Maillot Sable classification analysis

Has Wout Poels gone out too easy too quickly? Maybe our golden boy Jack Haig sitting at 48:55 might have a crack in the Alps? Adam Yates is also poised in prime position to take la sable.

To celebrate the past 20 years of the Maillot Sable, we’ve created a limited edition t-shirt (men’s and women’s) and coffee mugs that you can purchase until the riders reach the Champs-Élysées and while we attempt to get the winner onto a podium somewhere in Paris.

Finally, after after 106 editions of the Tour de France you can now show your support for the Maillot Sable:

HT to Pete Gugger for suggesting the maillot sable name.

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