Tour de France Green Jersey Contenders

Peter Sagan has owned the competition with a record seven wins only he’s not looking as dominant as before so if he wins, maybe we’ll have a contest this time. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at all the other sprinters too.

Competition rules: points are awarded at the finish line and at one intermediate point in the stage and the rider with the most points wears the jersey.

  • Flat stages (Stages 1,5,7,10,11,19,21) 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3 and 2 points for the first 15 riders
  • Hilly finish / Medium mountain stages (Stages 2,3,6,12,14,16): 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6- 5-4-3-2 points
  • Mountain Stages + individual TT (Stages 8,9,13,15,17,18) : 20-17-15-13-11- 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
  • Intermediate sprints: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the obvious pick, he’s won it a record seven times now between 2012 and 2019 and probably would have won it in 2017 were he not disqualified for that sprint in Vittel so if he makes it to Paris it feels like it’s his to lose. The sight of him in green has become part of summer, like tanlines and ice cream. Only he’s looking out of sorts, once upon a time at the Tour de France he’d joke over breakfast which victory salute to deploy later, now the wins don’t come as easy and triumph looks more like an exercise in product placement than pure joy. His last win was over a year ago in the Tour’s stage to Colmar but the fade doesn’t preclude him from winning the points competition yet again because if he can’t win he can keep placing: he got beaten in Paris-Nice by the likes of Garcia Cortina and Bonifazio but was still there to score. His team nurtures serious GC ambitions but he’s got Daniel Oss and Lukas Pöstlberger for support. Perhaps because he isn’t winning sprints he can also target the intermediate sprints while the teams that need stage wins see their sprinters sit out these contests. The two big questions are whether he can win on the days when other sprinters have been ejected and if he can go on a points raid in the mountains.

Caleb Ewan was the best sprinter in the Tour last year with three stage wins, one second place and three third places. This is a handy reminder that the points competition is not the “sprinter’s jersey”. He finished second on 248 points to Sagan’s 316 last year and on simple arithmetic Ewan would have had to convert three of the four second and third places into three stage wins just to pip Sagan on points. Still on paper he’s the best sprinter here, this year’s course has deterred some sprinters from showing up so he could score multiple stage wins and rack up the points.

A fast sprinter, versatile in the mountains and with a clever racing brain, Matteo Trentin (CCC) is a similar rider to Peter Sagan. He’s unlikely to beat Ewan in a sprint, less so several times over but he can win when the sprinters cannot, see his stage win in Gap last year when he dropped all his breakaway rivals on the final climb.

Sam Bennett gets both a start in the Tour de France and the Deceuninck-Quickstep leadout train. He should get a stage win and he’s versatile, see his uphill attack in the final kilometre of the Vuelta a Burgos a few weeks ago. However he’s inconsistent, he can win big but doesn’t have the efficient win rate of, say, Caleb Ewan.

Nevermind the green jersey, champagne will flow if Elia Viviani wins a stage. Cofidis, as they get reminded every summer, haven’t won a stage in the Tour since 2008. They’ve long been a team reliant on wildcard invitations and firing riders into doomed breakaways but now they’ve got a World Tour licence and have upped their budget to recruit Viviani. The Italian has yet to win for Cofidis this year, racking up placings in smaller races to the point where the team has pared back his leadout to bring in extra support for climber Guillaume Martin following his strong ride in the Dauphiné. Despite the history of the past decade and this season’s form the ambition shouldn’t be pared back, Viviani’s capable of more than one stage win and his leadout riders Simone Consonni and Christophe Laporte can try on a stage where Viviani might be dropped, such as Stage 14 to Lyon.

Alexander Kristoff is unlikely to go up the road on mountain stage to hoover up points but for all his bulk and hulk he’s never quit the Tour de France when other sprinters have been eliminated in the mountains. A stage win must be the target for UAE Emirates.

Bryan Coquard still hasn’t won a world tour race but this could change. Le Coq is sprinting better, seems more confident and could follow Julian Alaphilippe and Arnaud Démare in the final moments of the French championships when nobody else could, and all this after struggling to hold down food the previous day. He’s even been on a personal training camp in the Alps so could score on days when others won’t. Still taking the green jersey is a giant ask and a stage win would be like conquering Everest for him and his modest B&B Hotels-Vital Concept team.

Wout van Aert is probably the most capable challenger for the green jersey but when he’s not winning classics, sprints and time trials he seems quite happy working as a domestique for his Jumbo-Visma team mates. The Dutch team come with ambitions to win the yellow jersey, not the green and the focus is such they’re unlikely to try and take both. He’s got an eye on Stages 19 and 21 by which time his job for others will be done. Steven Kruijswijk’s withdrawal means Amund Jansen comes in, not a like for like replacement with the Norwegian a useful “bodyguard” for the climbers on the flatter days and normally a trusty wagon in Dylan Groenewegen’s leadout train.

Let’s rattle through a few more sprinters. Niccolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie) won a stage of Paris-Nice and can win on days when rivals are tired by a few climbs. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) has just won the Italian championships and while some sprinters fade with age he’s looking more dependable these days, yet to win a grand tour stage but has won the Giro’s points competition twice; team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen looked like the ideal green jersey contender but is now likely to be aiming for one stage from the breakaway. Likewise Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) is surely after a stage win, preferably from a breakaway or a very reduced peloton while Luca Mezgec can occasionally take big wins. Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven aren’t pure sprinters but have won bunch sprints and if they can get the day off protecting GC leaders Porte and Mollema they’ll be hunting moves from the breakaway. Nikias Arndt doesn’t win often but look for Sunweb rider’s smooth sprint, while others stomp on the pedals he stays seated but this means he might be better suited towing powerhouse Cees Bol into position for a stage win. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren) just missed out on the Italian title, he’s a strong rider who tends to win in harsh conditions when rivals have been worn out rather than straight speed contests but this also means he can grind out points all race long. Israel come with three sprinters in Hugo Hofstetter, André Greipel and Tom Van Asbroeck but maybe need to get in the break to win?

Finally in case you ask what chance a GC contender or someone else? Low to zero, even when winning multiple mountain stages on their way to the overall win the GC contenders don’t score high, the best in the past decade is Cadel Evans who took fourth place on the points competition in 2011, normally it’s 6th-10th for the best GC rider, the scale is weighted to the sprinters. Julian Alaphilippe had a great Tour last summer with two stage wins and two more top-3 finishes but was only 10th in the points scale in Paris.

Peter Sagan
Caleb Ewan
Sam Bennett, Matteo Trentin, Elia Viviani
Nizzolo, Colbrelli, Coquard

Comment: This year’s route has few sprint stages but last year’s edition didn’t offer many either. Sagan is the obvious pick again but not the bet-your-house-on-it certainty any more because of his form. Distinctive jerseys are a valuable prize but for onlookers the excitement is when there’s a contest with the ownership changing from day to day.

Why green? Because it was the corporate tone of Belle Jardinière, a French retailer with a famous Parisian department store and the original competition sponsor. It was once red in 1960s but has been green ever since and is sponsored by auto manufacturer Skoda.

64 thoughts on “Tour de France Green Jersey Contenders”

  1. Can understand Matthews being dark about missing this one – Would have been a realistic shot at green for him with this parcours and Sagan not being as sharp as he was. And not exactly like Sunweb have bigger fish to fry with the team they’re bringing.

    Feels like there’s something betweens the lines there.

      • first time I’ve heard this news, quite shocked he’s not at the Tour – unless he’s out of form Matthews feels like he’s had a few similar hard breaks in his career but I guess eventually you start to think it must be him rather than the teams?

        • Mathews non selection for the tour has been public for many months.

          Sunwebs thinks Benoot and Kragh are better options at hunting stages for this tour than Mathews For the sprint they bring their strongest leadout train for young Ces Bol with Arndt, Denz etc. Casper P is stupid fast as the last man in that role, Casper P is the only last minutte change from the team they published a long time ago, besides beeing a stupid fast leadout he was climbing very well in last weeks Dauphine.
          In Denmark among the domstic U23 riders Capser P is considered a better and faster leadout than Mørkøv.

          Aditionally they are bringing young super tallent M.Hirschi who is to learn and do a modest GC allong with vetrean Roche..

      • Kind of funny that this comes so soon after the “Only as good as you last race” post… Matthews looked sharp at Milan-San Remo too, so his form isn’t a surprise. Very odd decision by Sunweb.

    • I agree, Matthews’ absence is strange, it made sense to send him to the Tour, he’d have had several opportunities to score considering this year’s parcours.

      Besides, Sunweb is going for GC in the Giro with Kelderman and Oomen, so Matthews likely won’t get full team support there. It seems weird and I suspect there’s some tension there.

  2. And what about the the big absentee: Michael Matthews, the only reasonable challenger for Sagan? Does anybody understand his absence?
    Is a Alaphilippe a contender? He likely won’t be sprinting in the few flat stages as they’re Bennett’s reserve but he has the theoretical ability to rack up points in every other stage.

    • Hard for Alaphilippe, he’d have to get in the right breaks and then win several stages to score high. Last year he won two stages and made the top-3 on other days but was only 10th in the points competition, behind the likes of Stuyven and Van Avermaet.

  3. Edited the chainring picks to bump up Bennett, down Trentin and add Nizzolo.

    In case anyone asks, Démare is in great shape but is riding the Giro and seems happy with it, it’s been his goal for a long time. He likes a big lead out train and he’ll go to Italy as team leader with the likes of Scotson, Sinkeldam and Guarnieri to support him, if he rode the Tour he wouldn’t get this.

        • The team says the goal is yellow and WvA will ride for the GC leaders, even on sprint days, as a sort of bodyguard/leadout to ensure they get through the final kilometres. That said he was practically the only rider capable of this until now but Jansen has joined the team in Kruijswijk’s absence and could do the job. But the last think Jumbo-Visma management want to see is one of their team getting caught in a sprint crash, to lose WvA would be a bit hit. So he might get the green light to go for some stage wins but not to hustle Sagan every day for it.

          • I’m going to trust the Moneymen on this one. It’s going to be interesting how this one shakes out, especially with the recent news the PR might even not start!

          • Aren’t the odds more based on what betters are betting on rather than what the bookies think the contestants chances are? So the betters seem to agree with mr Ring right? WVA only has an outside chance on Green. Strange Caleb Ewan is not in the list, he’s got team support (with Wellens out he’s basically the team leader now) usually gets over a hill and knows how to win tdf stage. The shape may be a bit of a question mark but that’s basically the case with all sprinters. Except maybe Matthews and Démare who are not riding the tdf…

  4. Was there a red jersey instead of green ?? I remember the red “Catch” sprint jersey for intermediate sprints only. I think there was green also. Probably in the 70s.

    • In the 80s, there was also a red jersey awarded to the leader of the intermediate sprint competition (a bit like in the Giro today), separate from the points competition and its green jersey. But in practice it was often redundant, the green jersey wearer was often leading the intermediate sprint competition as well, so they discontinued it (in 1989, Google says).

      • A shame the Combined Jersey is not around. But I guess the UCI rules on number of jerseys put paid to that. I still think the photo of the badger riding up Alpe D’huez wearing it is one of the all time classic images of the tour.

        • The Vuelta’d had one recently but the Tour would need to sacrifice another jersey, eg the white one. The Tour had many more jerseys in the 1980s as it meant more sponsors and sales but this confused the public and things were shrunk down at the end of the decade to the format we still have today.

  5. Can the relative reduced lenght of the stages impact the points competition? Such that B and even C class sprinters now arrive at the finish with more freshness and be true stage vicotory contestants rather than hangers on? Thinking about guys like Rudy Barbier or Clement Venturini.

  6. I think Van Aert deserves at least a ring: he is so efficient at winning this season that there is a chance that he will get it while protecting Roglic. It is possible (although very unlikely) that Jumbo will get all jerseys: yellow for Roglic, green for VA and polka for Kuss (does he still qualify for white jersey?)

  7. Remember Sagan is peaking his form a bit later this year. Plus he lines up at the Giro right after the Tour, so he’s easing into fitness. I suspect he’ll try for the jersey this year without killing himself, so he has something left for the Giro.

  8. It’s worth noting that most intermediate sprints are placed so that the heavy sprinters can contest them too. Stage 9 is the only stage where it is placed after a mountain, while stage 13 and 16 seem most suited for hunting intermediate points.

    I think Ewan would have won the competition last year if he could have gotten the same amount of points from intermediates as Viviani did, but the question is then if he would still get as many at the finish? We’ll already see in the first stage if Ewan goes for green this year.

  9. How will the devision between Van Avermaet and Trentin be in practice? In Walonia it was mostly GVA and not Trentin who did the sprinting. But Trentin is always great in the Tour (or any grand tour) and might have a shot for green, while Greg does not.

  10. From a sponsor’s perspective winning intermediate sprints counts for little and surely the option of multiple sprint finishes is thus more appealing than contesting intermediate sprints with Sagan and only coming second in the points competition. This is assuming that getting in the break to get intermediate sprint points on hillier days would reduce the likelihood of them winning a stage on the flatter days.

    • I think this is a really good point. Ewan and his team/sponsors would likely much rather win 3 stages and no green vs. one stage and the green. Sagan lately doesn’t always win the races you think he might, but he’s always up there. At MSR this year I thought he’d be struggling for a top 10 and he barely missed the podium. The pure sprinters have to weigh exerting themselves, and often some of their sprint train, early in a stage by chasing intermediate sprints, while Sagan has shown that he can finish high in sprint finishes even when not at his best. And of course if Oss and Pöstlberger help him in those intermediate sprints (or take them outright to deny other’s the points), then it doesn’t hurt him as much at the end of the race.

      • Either way, let’s hope that for once it goes down to the wire, the probability is high for a grand finale in Paristhat will decide the green jersey contest. That would likely make it so that in the final three days all of the jerseys will be decided. Somehting to look forward to.. Also that would mean the tour actually made it to its intended finish which would also be nice.

        • Oh my god, can you imagine? There’s a 4th category climb on the last day, so in theory, we could see:
          * Two climbers on equal points, duking it out to win a 4th category climb;
          * Two sprinters within 5 points of each other, so any finish in the top 3 ahead of the other means a green win.
          * The white jersey (sitting on the shoulders of the 4th placed GC rider) being ahead of his next rival by 3 seconds, so the rival has to aim for a 3rd place on the stage to make up the time.
          * The yellow jersey close enough after the time trial that a late, cheeky break could change the result.
          I don’t think anyone’s TV would be on ANYTHING else all day!

          • There’s a lot of talk about Sagan’s form but very little of Ewan’s?
            Not that there’s much at all to judge Ewan on this season.
            Still, with the relative lack of depth of sprinters present in the race this year, it is definitely possible that a dominant quick man can push for the Green Jersey.

          • Ewan’s form seems better than any of the sprinters who are coming. And he recently said he’s not thinking about the green jersey given the way Sagan and WvA can score in stages where he has little chance. He could be sandbagging, but I think his focus is another set of several stage wins, which would be much bigger for him and his team than a green jersey. Nizzolo is white hot right now, and has taken two points jerseys in the Giro. He might be one to watch.

    • The guys don’t really contest the intermediates anyway. Occasionally they might go full gas but mostly they just do enough with a half sprint to get a few points. Its almost a good warm up at the beginning of the race to get the engine ticking.
      If it wasn’t for the fact the race gets sponsors i would say they should get rid of the intermediate sprints and just award finishing points.

      • I’ve long expected ASO to do away with the int. sprints in order to counter Sagan’s dominance as only he can get to some of those int. sprints and hoover up the points.
        Not that I think they should do this (they’ve already tried other things): if a rider is good enough to dominate then why should organisers ‘punish’ that?

        • Intermediate sprints have sponsors too and I’m pretty confident that the villages that host one also pay up more or there’s some kind of quid pro quo involving a ‘lesser’ ASO race. There used to be three intermediate sprints each worth much less points. Those were usually not strongly contested. I think I prefer this format, if there’s a fight for green on, the sprints do get contested (even though not by the complete field).

          • There’s no hosting fee for an intermediate sprint but it can be a nice thing for a mayor to have. ASO have tried to re-engineer the contest but it’s like generals fighting the previous war, you can’t control the outcome. Sagan’s simply been too good but it’d be great to see a contest this year with several riders in the mix.

        • As long as Sagan can finish 10-12 stages in the top 10, and 4-5 stages in the top 4, he’s going to win the green jersey, regardless of what happens with the intermediate sprints. If anything, I think the intermediate sprints work against him, because I don’t think he likes riding strategically at early stages in the race. He’s not like a GC rider who’s vigilant every second, he likes to stay anonymous and ride on instinct, and gets really focused toward the end. With a whopping 20 points for intermediate sprints, he and a couple of teammates need to monitor the situation early on (who and how many riders in the break, where are the other spinters?), and make sure another contender isn’t stealing a march. Plus other teams can send some of their sprint lead-out riders ahead to steal points and force him to sprint, so he has to spend energy that the other main sprinters don’t need to bother with.

          From ASO’s perspective, I can’t imagine why they’d want to specifically scheme against Sagan. If Demare were in the race, or another French rider were a viable threat, then I could possibly understand. But Sagan is hugely popular, and following the green jersey quest (like the KOM jersey) is one of the few elements that enliven the first couple of hours of most stages. There’s only so much one can watch no-name riders in the breakaway for hours on end while studying beautiful fields of sunflowers and grapes.

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