Yellow jersey stays iconic — eight years on

Written by By Staff Writer

Maurice Perret, CNN Brasil, for CNN Written by

This story was originally published in August 2011.

“Brazilians are both thrilled and absolutely bemused by this yellow jersey,” wrote Thomas Sancho, from the British newspaper The Independent, in 2012.

“Historically, you’ve got to love the football teams from Brazil: Mineiro, Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Palmeiras, Itagui. Brazilians carry themselves with a sense of great spirit and athletic prowess.

“But the image of the yellow jersey has sold well. It has given them greater joy, but also fuelled endless speculation about its meaning, because you never quite know what’s going on.”

As the race enters its eighth edition, still no one can say for sure how the “militant yellow” became the symbol of the Tour de France.

Controversy, jealously

Whatever its origin, there is no doubt that the yellow jersey has become something of a household name.

Originally worn by riders at the end of the race, it’s rarely seen without by far the most famous fans in the world.

As with much of Brazil, yellow became an article of clothing long before the legend of the Tour began to emerge. In some way, this was inevitable: yellow often stands for law and order, success and even religion.

In recent years, officials have encouraged footballers to wear yellow in the colours of the national flag at the World Cup, while at international tournaments, yellow is more often seen alongside the colors of foreign colors — a motif that also dates back to pre-Columbian times.

Brazilians who support clubs such as Vasco da Gama, Gremio and Internacional may have developed their own peculiar prejudices against those supporting other teams.

If nothing else, the yellow jersey has made it clear that it’s Brazilians who are the show-stoppers — not the host country, the host nation.

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