1975 marks an important year in the history of the Tour de France. It is the year of the defeat of Eddy Merckx which falls in front of Bernard Thévenet. This is the year of the first arrival on the Champs-Élysées and we will talk about it here soon.
It is also the year of the appearance of a funny jersey, with polka dots dedicating the best climber. 45 years ago, the Tour that started from Charleroi turns anti-clockwise: it approaches the Pyrenees before the Massif Central and the Alps. On July 15 between Valloire and Morzine, Thévenet has already dethroned King Eddy. But he has not yet won the race: two Belgians can come and bore him. Merckx of course but also the road captain of the French team Gitane-Campagnolo. A certain Lucien Van Impe, who won the Tour a year later.
During this stage, Van Impe takes the lead at the top of the Col des Aravis. He is the best climber of the peloton and it shows. For the first time in history, the king of the mountains is distinguished by a distinctive jersey, the famous red polka dot jersey. Why this motive?
The first sponsor of this jersey is a big chocolate brand, a brand with a little horse. In 1975, she asked the co-director of the Tour Félix Lévitan, also boss of the Parisian Sports department, for his opinion. This one wants to pay tribute to one of his friends, the former pistard Henri Lemoine nicknamed “P’tit pois”. The latter, several times champion of France, wore a tunic inspired by those of jockeys, with small circles. So goes for the peas. And why red and white? Because the sponsor brand then had these colors on its packages. It stayed that way. In 1975, Van Impe was the very first to bring this jersey back to Paris.