The Green Jersey Contenders

A look at the points competition in the Tour de France, the contenders for the green jersey and a wider preview of the sprinters.

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Points are awarded at the finish line and at one intermediate point in the stage:

  • Flat stages (Stages 2,3,5,6,8,9,10,12,13,16) 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 1,11,17,18): 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6- 5-4-3-2 points
  • Mountain Stages + individual TT (Stages 4,7,14,15,19,20,21) : 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

As said here before the pedant knows “it’s not the sprinter’s jersey, it’s the points competition” but the expert knows the flatter stages offer more points.

The past two winners of the competition are Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen. They make for instructive case studies. Philipsen won four stages last year which delivered him 200 points and placing on further days helped him score more, his winning streak meant the jersey followed as a consequence.

In 2022 Van Aert took three stage wins, one solo, one uphill sprint and a time trial and placed in some of the sprint stages, he built a commanding lead across the three weeks and was scoring on days when the pure sprinters were not.

These two techniques need not be exclusive paths. The dream scenario is the jersey changing shoulders regularly with every sprint and intermediate sprint contested.

This year’s route serves up more sprint finishes than last so it suits a pure sprinter even more than a baroudeur. Also the placing of the intermediate sprints tends to suits a pure sprinter, there are only a handful of stages where it is placed after a hard climb so the sprinters teams can hope to filter the breakaway most days and control who gets to contest the intermediate sprint.

Also talking of mountain stages, the old maxim of “to finish first, first finish” as the Tour has tight time cuts and this is a mountainous edition with days that could see sprinters lose beaucoup time early. The commissaires can reinstate riders in exceptional circumstances but if this happens they forfeit all of the points earned so far so adieu the green jersey.

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won green last year and four stages. At first glance he doesn’t look like such an easy pick for a repeat because he’s been beaten in sprints recently, whether the Belgium championships or the Belgium Tour but this happened last year too. Philipsen is more than a dragster sprinter as he can handle short climbs that other sprinters cannot and he’s now going to have Mathieu van der Poel as a leadout man who supplies a ferocious finish. Van der Poel could be crucial here as there days when he could have won for himself last year, like Limoges where Pedersen won, but he helped Philipsen try to win and place instead. Will this happen again? The Dutchman has an eye on Olympics just as he did the Worlds last year.

Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) has the potential to win but does he have the freedom? He can win days when other sprinters cannot and even harvest points from the time trials. Yet he could be on team duty for Jonas Vingegaard if the Dane is in the mix for the overall win which ought to be the case. With the team weakened by injury and illness he’s no longer a joker card but crucial in support. Plus his goal is the Olympics and just as he left the race last year to attend the birth of his child, he could have plans to leave here as well or at least back off the racing.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) isn’t a sprinter but he won a stage of the Dauphiné and many other bunch sprints and he’s got the versatility to win more. He’ll find faster riders ahead of him here for the flat finishes and his comparative advantage comes in an uphill sprint but there are few of these, only really Stage 8 to Colombey so he’ll have to hustle and bustle for it in the bunch sprints and breakaways alike.

Is Arnaud De Lie a sprinter? After a big crash in the Four Days of Dunkerque last year Lotto-Dstny have tried to take him away from the bunch sprints but it’s risk vs reward, no more tangling for points in 1.1 race but at the Tour de France? He needs a hillier, harder day and there are not many but he’s sometimes so powerful he can win on the flat by brute force.

Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco) is the form pick having just won the Dutch national championships but he hasn’t won a top-level sprint for a while, take your pick between the 2023 UAE Tour before that the 2022 Tour de France. Team mate Michael Matthews is likely to be stage-hunting but can contribute while Luka Mezec is a solid leadout

Fabio Jakobsen (DSM Firmenich-PostNL) was rivalling Jasper Philipsen for the title of best sprinter but he’s a case study for the volatile hierarchy among the sprinters today. Adrift in Paris-Nice and the Giro alike but comes with a strong leadout with Bram Welten and Nils Eekhoff which shows the team are backing him.

Not long ago Fernando Gavira (Movistar) was hot property among the sprinters, now he’s making a name for himself by launching early and averaging 1-2 wins a season so a win at the Tour would be a big turn around. Movistar are points hunting but UCI ranking points, not the green ones and 8th on a stage is 40 points.

Mark Cavendish (Astana) was the points winner in 2021 but all he wants is one more win to surpass Eddy Merckx as the rider with the most Tour stage win, “Project 35”. Of course if he gets into a winning streak then green follows but the central question here is whether he can get that first win. To achieve this he may sit out some intermediate sprints in order to boost his chances at the finish. Can he win a stage? Yes it is possible but the debate is whether it is probable. There six goes at a sprint finish where needs to find a way past the names cited already. The team are all in and have recruited sprint whisperer Michael Mørkøv to boost the chances.

Another sprinter who finds age just a number is Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) although he’s not won a World Tour sprint since 2020 when he took the opening stage of the Tour in Nice and works as a valuable leader for the team. Søren Wærenskjold is a great leadout rider who can win sprints but not quite at this level, likewise Jonas Abrahamsen.

Intermarché-Wanty are struggling this season. Once upstarts who’d try longshot breakaway moves, they’ve sharpened their focus with the likes of Biniam Girmay but he’s an infrequent winner who hasn’t show the same form of the 2022 Giro when he was outsmarting Van der Poel. He can win bunch sprints and so can team mate Gerben Thijssen so it’ll be interesting to see how they ride although we’ve seen the team before happy to have multiple riders in the mix rather than back one.

Once a green jersey winner, Sam Bennett is back to winning ways with Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale but he and the team would surely sign today for a stage win, as we saw recently it’s one thing to storm to wins in Dunkerque, another in the Dauphiné. Likewise Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) who has been through some introspection lately about his career and goals and seems to have come out with more wins but how to land a stage here, it would probably be his crowning triumph, topping his recent Suisse stage win. The same for Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain) who has started five grand tours but only finished one but he’s a sharp rider who can win World Tour level sprints but has yet to take a grand tour win.

Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-Easypost) is another versatile sprinter who can win on hard days but risks being swamped by faster sprinters as his team don’t bring a big train in support. Arnaud Démare (Arkéa-Samsic) was losing speed at Groupama-FDJ before his transfer last summer and his best result is a fifth place this year after illness spoilt his spring. Likewise for Pascal Ackermann (IPT) who has moved teams but hasn’t won for a year now both are not easy picks for a stage win but will hope for an opening.

As for Tadej Pogačar (UAE)? He’s good, but surely not that good? He was fourth in the points competition last year so he can be up there if no one sprinter wins multiple stages but the system is tilted to the sprinters so he’d have to have a superb Tour just to be in the mix. We’ll get more into his chances soon…

68 thoughts on “The Green Jersey Contenders”

  1. What colour is the green jersey this year (yes I know green). But by that is it the same dark camp green as last year. Or back to the classic? I could hardly make out JP last year from the helicopter shots.

  2. It’s hard to look past Philipsen, isn’t it. Alpecin seem to be the only team you can say for certain are going to the Tour with Green in mind above all else.

    It’s certainly a puzzle about WvA. He looks like Visma’s best TT rider, sprinter, puncheur, and mountain domestique. If anyone can play all these roles it’s him, but I’m not sure where it leaves his personal ambitions. Grinding to a halt half way up a mountain, I suspect.

  3. Cav. is now too old to be competitive over three weeks. The green jersey will not be an objective. He will aim for the one stage win he needs, and save everything for this last chance.

  4. Could strong team with the will eliminate a pure sprinter or two on the first stage? Ridden aggressively a heavy sprinter could be distanced on the first climb and never get back on. Would the day-long effort be worth it for, say, Lidl-Trek with Pedersen?

    Candidates for elimination: Cavendish, Groenewegen, Jakobsen…

    Maybe the idea is unsporting!

    • Barring crash/injury I wouldn’t bet against the Manx Missile making it to Nice. I’d guess the organizers would avoid throwing him out on the time cuts and even at his age, he’s likely to keep going, just out of respect to the race. He knows it’s the last go-round.
      Totally off topic – what happened to Bora/Redbull? Is all that gonna wait for 2025 despite the rumors of the change for LeTour 2024? If it’s gonna happen for Le Beeg Shew 2024 I figured there would have already been a big, flashy press announcement with the new kits, maybe new bikes from the Redbull F1/BMC tie-up and all the usual hype. Redbull can probably rival the various petro-sheiks and fracking kings for budget so in the “not wrecking the planet” category I’d be happy to see ’em come in, especially if they ditch Kim Il Sinyard’s bike sponsor deal.

      • They had a launch event at Red Bull Hangar-7 in Salzburg.

        Kit and bike is basically in the traditional blue/silver Red Bull colours, split between blue on the kit and a nice looking white/silver on the bike. Both look great 😀

        I don’t think we’ll see them on either of the Red Bull Advanced Technologies / BMC bikes, given one was an unrestricted ‘concept’ bike and the other a non-UCI triathlon bike.

        Sadly for you, Larry Mussolini, they are staying with Specialized. If various Red Bull motorsport teams can simultaneously work with Ford (F1) and Chevrolet (Supercars) then having RBAT simultaneously doing some aerodynamic consultancy with BMC and having majority ownership of a team riding Specialized bikes won’t be a problem.

        • “Sadly for you, Larry Mussolini,”
          Funny, ha ha. but I guess you’ve forgotten “Kim Il Sinyard” was the fine fellow who sued someone for using a trademarked name that was LOANED to him at no charge? I’ve got bike-industry friends who tell other tales about what a first-class a-hole the guy is/was, whether they worked in his “hermit kingdom” or were competitors.
          But thanks for the update, didn’t seem like it made much of a splash, odd for Redbull?

          • I think they may have miscalculated the timing. Having the launch at Red Bull Hangar 7 (surrounded by F1 cars and gleaming silver Flying Bulls airplanes) was great, but doing that just a couple of days before the Tour de France when everyone who is anyone in the specialist media landscape was at the Grand Depart.

            But perhaps it is also a reflection of the relative value compared to their other sporting investments? Their investment in the team would be somewhat less than they would spend to sign a big name striker for Red Bull Salzburg FC, or to secure the signature of Carlos Sainz Jr to replace Sergio Perez in the second seat at Red Bull Racing.

          • I agree with that – I totally missed it and wonder if they’re gonna throw 10/20/30+ million at this, why not go all the way? Build a super team and go one better with your own brand of bicycles or at least the BMC/Redbull F1 angle. Buy (or start, it seems pretty easy these daze) your own clothing company while you’re at it.
            I’m no fan of Redbull mind you, but I’d rather see funds for pro cycling come from something like that instead of green/sportwashing.

          • The more I think about it the more I think it’s been deliberately set up as a relatively soft launch with the big stuff (big name rider signings, women’s team, integration with other Red Bull cycling assets) to come later.

            I don’t think they’ll change from having an external partner for technical clothing – if working with Puma is fine for Red Bull Racing, working with Sportful will be fine for Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe.

            We might start seeing riders wearing Alpha Tauri clothing at press conferences etc.

            The bike brand situation is an area where they will stick with current arrangements for a while. The pearlescent white S-WORKS bikes for the Tour look great and the limited retail run of them will certainly sell out. Getting any more involved with BMC at this time would be unlikely given that BMC is currently putting the begging bowl out for a government bailout.

          • “Getting any more involved with BMC at this time would be unlikely given that BMC is currently putting the begging bowl out for a government bailout.”
            Seems perfectly timed to take over, no? What’s the most expensive ingredient in Redbull? IMHO it’s the advertising/promotion, so with the mega-millions they basically have a license-to-print I was hoping they’d go big or go home rather than fiddle around the edges as you describe.
            I don’t think it’s Redbull making the fat stax from that $16K “just like Primo’s” bike….it’s all marketing and WTF not have ALL the marketing with Redbull on it if you’ve got the budget…unless perhaps you have some big, big-money sponsors like I assume their F1 team has?

      • If Cavendish doesn’t miss the time cuts nor do the many other sprinters who will then continue to beat him. I’ll be surprised if he podiums a stage, much less wins one, but stranger things have happened on the Tour…

        • Yeah Cav’s had a hard time even being up there for the sprints this year ar most times, hard time following Morkov. I’d be surprised if he grabs a stage. Ewen would have to take down all the other sprinters again.

  5. So what’s more important in terms of prestige, a stage win or the green jersey? – put another way would a rider prefer to have the green jersey without winning a stage along the way or have a single stage win? (think Sagan won it once without any stage wins)

    Obviously Cav would want the stage but he’s in a different situation

    • Winning a serious stage in an impressive manner is probably worth more than the green jersey without shining, but in any other case the green jersey is better.

    • It’s a good question and there’s no right or wrong. It can be personal for a rider. It can also have different value for the team. One stage win on a Tuesday is very different to one on a Sunday for sponsors as audiences are bigger at weekends although a quiet day at the Tour beats almost any other day of the season. Having the green jersey for the last week with no stage wins means a lot of media for the team and its sponsors, especially with the Paris (Nice this year) podium protocols.

      • If I am reading your tables correctly it is 210 points for a stage win but only 25 points for the green jersey. Seems at odds with the prestige.

        • That´s an error, the table for points (awarded each race day) for wearing the leader´s jersey in a wrong spot:

          For a final place in the secondary competitions of a grand tour, the mountains and points competition you get 210 points, i.e. the same as winning a stage (or finishing between 10th and 11th in the GC).

          (There are no points awarded for wearing the green or the polka dot jersey, but I think it would be nice…)

          • I allow myself to amuse myself by pointing out that those 25 points are, naturellement, NOT awarded for wearing the leader´s jersey in a wrong spot.

      • I wonder about that – sure, the trophy (medal, etc.) handed out for stage wins is nice but a framed green jersey on your wall seems to me a bit more special and means you were good not for just one day, but for 3 weeks.

        • Provided that they were actually good and didn’t just inherit it from a rider who was better.

          2017 is the most obvious example – Marcel Kittel crushed everyone in the sprints and was then taken out in a crash not of his doing on stage 17 while on a tally of 373 points.

          Michael Matthews inherited the jersey and, when he finally arrived half an hour after the stage winner, wildly celebrated his mighty victory on the podium like he had won it himself. When the race got to the final podium in Paris he was still wearing the jersey but still had fewer points than Kittel had from only 16 stages.

          • He was already dropped at the time the crash happened up the road.

            Completing stage 21 to win the points or climbers jersey is one of the dumbest rules in the sport and should be abolished to prevent such administrative victories.

            You’ve done a great job of convincing me that each of Kittel’s five stage wins on the road is worth more than Matthews’ hollow victory jersey. Unless he knows someone very handy with photoshop, his is probably the only jersey ever framed without being surrounded by photos of him on the road.

          • You’re going down that “coulda/shoulda/woulda” road now I think. You can proclaim all the “moral victors” you like but Matthews has a (I assume) framed green jersey on his wall from 2017 because as the rules were written he had the most points of those still in the contest.
            I’ll stop here BEFORE this turns into an argument, OK?

  6. Green seems to me for “Jasper the Master” unless Visma’s GC boy is no good and they let WvA make a challenge. Will someone gift the Manx Missile the win he seems to want so badly? I doubt it.

  7. Shockingly poor field as far as pure speed is concerned, but interesting as a green jersey competition, indeed. Funny as the TDF has become a Giro of sort and the other way around (in terms of sheer «content», whereas of course money & intensity are always by far more abundant in France). In this «musical seats game» of interchanging feature, it looks like that it’s the tapponi which are left standing without a GT willing to have them in anymore.

    • the days of the pure sprinter are pretty well gone for the time being. what a sprinter is today is more a punchier with extra bulk.

      i think griepel was the last “pure tradition” sprinter we’ll see for a while.

      • The three obvious names reported by inrng below are examples of what I have in mind. Enough of a pure sprinter for me, as Greipel by the way, who could also face a berg or two (or twenty). Kittel was probably the last one really different (in the worse direction) but still able to get to the top in some big races.

        • As readers used to tire of me saying, Greipel was a former hill climb champion of Germany and he’d use some of that punch in the spring classics to go up the road in the early breakaway on team duties.

          Groenewegen and Jakobsen seem like the pure sprinters, as in they win this way almost exclusively and look built for it.

  8. You are probably correct about Cav Larry T. It would be a wonderful gentlemanly and significant gesture from the current peloton to the best sprinter of all times.
    Who said “no gifts?”
    Maybe Vino has a few spare rubles in the kitty to resolve the question in the time honoured way!

  9. Are Visma going to be allowed to wear their yellow jerseys in the Tour? I’m surprised they haven’t had to change to something easier to distinguish from the leader’s jersey. It was exceedingly difficult to see the difference in the Dauphiné.

  10. A comment to the piece above as it was along already but it’s related is that the field of sprinters is not so deep, normally we get a “sprint royale” at the Tour but not this year without Merlier, Milan and Kooij among others. This has a knock-on effect because it means fewer teams will work to set up a sprint. A lot of work will fall on DSM, Lidl-Trek, Jayco and Alpecin to do the work and within these teams there are different goals… so the breakaways might fancy their chances.

      • Jayco-AlUla were obviously hoping that Ewan would have a good 2024 after his struggles in 2023 following three fairly good years, but it wasn’t a huge gamble as they were always planning on taking Groenewegen to the Tour.

    • “A lot of work will fall on DSM, Lidl-Trek, Jayco and Alpecin to do the work…”

      Maybe, but many of these teams are carrying – and supporting – climbers too. Look at DSM with Bardet, Barguil, Onley… as an example.

      • Yes, we also have to look in the teams to see who is spare to work. You need riders like Declerq and Dillier to keep the break on the proverbial tight leash, then others to close the gap but all while keeping others spare for the sprint train.

  11. Thanks inrng.
    I didn’t see this Prudhomme interview coming out one month ago : . I don’t know if you saw it, some old material, but also some interesting info on the roads chosen (“we search more a new Mûr-de-Bretagne than a new Tourmalet”), the geography, the transfers, the preference for small towns (that you don’t entirely agree with), the new public, etc.

    • Thanks, a good interview (Prudhomme is an easy “customer” who can talk). Have been planning a post about his role for the coming days/weeks and trying to think of where the various useful sources are, this combines several pieces in one go like his “elbow memory” and more.

      I don’t mind the small towns or villages, on the contrary if they are scenic it’s great… it’s just good when big races also visit a major city.

      • Yes, the elbow memory made me laugh. What he says about small towns is what I suspected : they are more welcome and more grateful than big cities, who can see that mostly as an inconvenient.
        He also makes me want to go to the salon de l’agriculture, have you tried it ?

  12. Even though we don’t really know the riders on a personal level i do like Cav as he just seems like a lad who likes racing. He has even mixed it up with a bit of track. I was a bit disappointed that he did not get picked for the 2022 tour after his wonderful nationals win.
    So I really hope he wins a sprint.
    A green jersey is not beyond him if he tried for it as the green jersey is always a lottery in terms of who really goes for the jersey from the start and all the sprint points. Cav is not to bad at getting over the hills. Some sprinters won’t make it and others just may not try for the intermediate points.

    • As usual for young Brits from the Academy then, Cav had the track as a main dish on his menú since the very start of his career, and it’s where he got his biggest early triumphs.

      • Probably for the same reason as in Australia that traditionally lots of cyclists started on the track. Although it seems less pronounced now.
        Sports gets funding based on chances for an olympic gold medal hence the sporting federations are mainly focused on how to get gold medals. Hence countries like GB and Australia are always in the hunt for medals on the track as that’s most important to their future funding.
        But i always like it when the Athletes are willing to spend some time on something that’s not part of their salary just for the love of the sport or country. Ganna and Wiggins are a couple of other riders that come to mind.

    • Green jerseys built on hard fought intermediate sprints in hilly (or even mountainous) stages are also very good… especially if they come with a stage win at least. Hushovd’s second one comes to mind.
      Even more so since the system has been tilted more and more to favour pure sprinters («anti-Sagan laws»).

      • I don’t buy it. There is as much contest and story, if not less, when the dominant sprinter is in green the whole race, as when Kelly or Sagan or Merckx won the jersey because they were the most versatile riders. There would be more of a contest if it involved different kinds of riders and ways of winning the classification. The only result achieved with the shift is giving pure sprinters more prominence, but no one says what’s good about it (unless of course someone likes ever faster and more dangerous and crowded finishes, and the timing getting neutralized further and further from the finish).

    • They used to award same points on every day in the Vuelta, that’s how Froome once won the points jersey before Trentin there. Trentin could secure the jersey on the last day but Froome also had a chance just by placing somewhere in the top 20 I believe. I think Trentin won the final stage but Froomey placed and took both the GC and the points, Matteo was not amused at all.

  13. A crucial aspect for the green jersey is whether sprinters can actually make it to Paris and make the time-cuts in the harder stages. The normal thing is that one or two do not.

  14. Frustrating not to see Merlier in the SQS lineup, I guess they decided all in for Remco, which based on his recent form seems a risky strategy. Why not have Merlier and one chaperone who can also support Remco on non sprint days. Do SQS have another card to play in that team, I don’t see it.

    Kooij I guess is a man too many for an already two-pronged Visma team and similar at Lidl Trek with I assume Milan now in preparation for the Olympics.

  15. Arnaud De Lie is not a green jersey contender by his own and his team’s account. They’ll try to place him in the flat sprints and eek out a victory on one of the few occasions when there is an uphill finish after a not too hilly course. He’s proven himself almost unbeatable on that sort of day. Big problem for big Mads there….

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