Tour de France
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Tour de France: Maiilot Vert contenders

The 2020 edition of the Tour de France has belatedly kicked off with Norwegian Alexander Kristoff taking stage 1 honours in Nice. Now that the competitors are on the road, it’s time to look at the contenders and make some predictions about who will win the various races within the race.

We’ll start with the green jersey – the Maillot Vert – awarded to the winner of the points classification. This event generally favours the sprinters; the powerful men that can hit great speeds, but struggle to haul their bigger bodies up the side of a mountain.

Points for this race are awarded throughout Le Tour. Finishing inside the top 15 of each stage awards you points – the amount of points awarded depends on the makeup of the stage itself, for instance a mountain stage will have less points attributed to it than a flat stage, so as to not disadvantage the sprinters. There are also intermediate sprints strewn across the tour, where riders in the breakaway can claim some award.

So, now that you’re up to speed on how the points classification works, who’s going to win?

The easy answer is Slovakian wonder Peter Sagan. He has won each and every Maillot Vert since 2012, excluding 2017 where he was somewhat controversially disqualified for an in race incident with Brit Mark Cavendish. Australian Michael Matthews claimed green that year.

Sagan starts a clear favourite for this jersey and smart money would be on him claiming a record 8th Maillot Vert. The course suits him, with many bunch sprints predicted, as well as the opportunity for Sagan to claim intermediate points in breakaways – he’s clearly the best all round rider amongst the Maillot Vert contenders. That said, there is strong, if not deep, competition to the Slovakian.

Australian Caleb Ewan is the most likely to dethrone Sagan. The pocket dynamo – he stands a mere 5’5” – finished 2nd in the points classification last year and at age 26 is just hitting his peak. This year’s tour course sees many of the intermediate sprints occurring early in the days racing, which will suit Ewan who is a notoriously poor climber for such a small man. He comes into the race in good form, winning the Tour de Wallonie last time out.

Wout van Aert is somewhat of a Sagan-lite rider. He has very similar abilities to the Slovak, but is just a touch deficient in pure speed. He’s a dark horse, but could be derailed by his own team. The Belgian is expected to be the key domestique to teammate Primoz Roglic. Those responsibilities could scupper a Maillot Vert tilt before it even begins.

Giacomo Nizzolo has a paid of points championships from his home tour the Giro d’Italia and the 31 year old would desperately love to add the French title to his collection. He’s in perhaps career best form and boasts perhaps the best leadout train in the entire tour.

An outside chance is Sonny Colbrelli. The Italian is not considered an elite sprinter in discipline or technique, but he does have explosive pace and a solid team around him. He gets over the mountains well enough. If he can put together 3 consistent weeks of racing, he’ll be thereabouts.

The Maillot Vert contenders enjoy the first week of Le Tour, before the race heads into the mountains, so fans of sprint finishes best get your viewing in early.

Bon velo!

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