A preview of the best young rider competition
Of all the jerseys available during the Tour de France, the white jersey of best young rider is perhaps the least-known amongst the prizes available overall at the Tour. Riders such as Ivan Basso, Vladimir Karpets and Denis Menchov have won this jersey in recent years, and most go on to become riders that perform in the 'senior' classifications. Les Clarke looks at the riders to watch in 2005.
The basic premise of the best young rider classification is that the rider under the age of 25 with the lowest cumulative time (like general classification) is declared the best young rider and wears the white jersey. It's an opportunity to showcase youthful talent in a separate competition that retains prestige in its own right.
Some riders, such as Thomas Voeckler in 2004, can lead the best young rider classification while leading on general classification - this is unusual and it's normally the more senior riders that are able to tough it out for the full three weeks in order to remain high on the GC leaderboard.
Two teams field most of the contenders for this year's competition - Liberty Seguros-Wurth and Francaise des Jeux. They have young squads with plenty of talent, and both directeur sportifs (Manolo Saiz and Marc Madiot) have said in the past they are always looking to develop young talented riders. What better way to blood these riders than to race them in the Tour de France? And this competition encourages more participation by young riders.
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