They can define rivalries, dictate strategy and they undoubtedly add colour to the world's biggest races; the jerseys of the peloton help make cycling a team sport, and the Tour has seen some special jerseys in its storied history.
The likes of Merckx, Anquetil, Hinault and Indurain are generally all linked to a particular jersey that helped shape and define their careers and as such the uniform of a certain rider can help fans form a life-long attachment to a team or cyclist.
And as such they become more than just a garment worn by the rider to denote their team - from national squads to the advent of trade outfits right up to today's vestments that boast a dozen or more sponsor logos in the modern commercial environment - the jersey is a symbol of cycling and a source of pride.
There's cultural significance in the colours of some jerseys seen at the Tour although in many modern cases they are a representation of the sponsor's enblem, likely to change as those who provide financial backing for a team change. It's part of the ebb and flow of the professional realm of cycling.
Below we bring you some of the notable jerseys of the Tour de France peloton over the decades - there are many more we could have included, but here's a small selection of the 'classic clothes' that have adorned some of the sport's finest.
Eddy Merckx and Molteni will forever be aligned in cycling culture, the iconic burnt orange jersey turning to yellow in the 1971 Tour de France (above).
French company Gan's long association with cyclng began with its involvement in the Mercier team that boasted 'The Eternal Second', Raymond Poulidor, seen here riding the 1974 Tour de France (above).
Bernard Hinault donned the Renault-Elf colours during his career (above left) and rode the 1978 Tour as French national champion, seen here talking to countryman, Peugeot's Bernhard Thevenet (above right).
Phil Anderson was a pioneer of Australian cycling, riding for Peter Post's Panasonic team during his career (above). Note the Oakley Factory Pilots, another area the Australian pioneered.
Andy Hampsten was another Anglophone trailblazer, one of the first Americans to rise to prominence in the European peloton as part of the 7-Eleven squad (above). The team's convenience store-sponsored jersey is still popular with fans today.
Whether you loved or hated its jersey, you knew who the sponsor was for Greg LeMond's Tour-winning team in 1990... even if you didn't know what that company did or where it was from (above).
The ubiquitous Bic pen company sponsored the jersey of Spanish rider Luis Ocana, seen here with Raymond Poulidor (l) at the 1973 Tour de France (above).
A throwback to the national team days, the Cafe de Colombia jersey of mountains man Luis Herrera was a regular sight in the 1980s. Here he talks with Italian champion Francesco Moser (above).
Sometimes, however, sponsorship delivers an unwanted association with scandal, such as Festina's link with the doping scandal that marred the 1998 Tour de France and changed the face of modern cycling (above).