I penned a guest piece for fellow cycling fan Michael Stokoe who is providing some great coverage over on his blog site. When the guys at Stalksport saw it they wanted me to share it and I was more than happy to.
It was put together before the racing started in the time trial around Utrecht on Saturday but much remains relevant. The 2015 Tour de France is full to the brim of challengers that have the potential to win the overall race and the tournament promises to be one of the most competitive in recent years.
TdF 2015 – Battle For the Green Jersey
Focus turns to the green jersey which has been won for the last three years by Slovakian rider Peter Sagan. The exciting young rider has been the most consistent sprinter at Le Tour for the last three years. His aim has not been so much on stage wins but more so to consistently pick up points. The race promises to be a real challenge for him in terms of opposition as he will find himself up against the best collection of sprinters in one Grand Tour for some time. The only opponent missing would be Marcel Kittel who won four Tour de France stages, two in each of the previous two years.
The big German does not take part due a combination of a lack of form and a season that has so far been disrupted by illness, which is a real shame for him personally and for Le Tour. Not that the other sprinters will feel that sympathy, as it is one less threat to be concerned about, which is perhaps harsh but fair.
The serious contention are numerous, betting odds are from before the first stage;
- Peter Sagan – Slovakian riding for Tinkoff Saxo (10/11)
- Mark Cavendish – Britain riding for Etixx Quick Step (9/2)
- Alexander Kristoff – Norweigian riding for Team Katusha (10/3)
- John Degenkolb – German riding for Giant Alpecin (10/1)
- Nacer Bouhanni – Frenchman riding for Cofidis (16/1)
- Bryan Coquard – Frenchman riding for Team Europcar (20/1)
- Andre Greipel – German riding for Lotto Soudal (25/1)
The bookies favour Sagan to win his fourth points classification title at Le Tour in four years which is perhaps the safe bet, but he will not have it his own way. The Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish, will be flying the flag for Great Britain, as he will be looking to close in on Bernard Hinault in the list of all time stage winners who he is currently only three behind.
Cavendish is in his best form going into this years tournament following his overall victory at the Tour of Dubai, as well as stage wins elsewhere so far this season. Meanwhile, Norwegian Kristoff is also in great form heading into this race and will be looking to challenge both Sagan and Cavendish. He will resume battle with Sagan in particular after their fine race match-ups at the Tour Suisse.
You have to say the outsiders are German duo Degenkolb and Greipel along with Frenchmen Coquard and Bouhanni. But these challenges find themselves likely to suffer in the odds, due to their teams are unlikely to provide quite the same support.
Sprinters are a different breed of rider. While some have good support from their teams there are times when they have to make their own way, and, they often do. For this reason alone, you cannot discount the outside challengers. Greipel has long odds but the big German is more than capable of springing a surprise. He has enjoyed many a battle with Cavendish and his frame is a tough proposition should any have to face him in a sprint for the line.
Frenchmen Coquard and Bouhanni will be looking to surprise although the latter goes into the race off the back of an injury at the French road race championships, and, it is questionable just how long he will last. Degenkolb is often fancied on sprint stages if he can stay well placed in there with the peloton, and if he does, he has every chance of causing an upset.
This list is of course far from exhaustive. There are always surprises at Grand Tours and there could well be a rider that will make a name for himself, and, announce himself on the grandest of stages in cycling scene. I am looking forward to this battle royale immensely and it is so hard to predict. With rose-tinted spectacles, I would enjoy seeing Cavendish take the green jersey as well as topping that off with a win in Paris, the stage that he has a particular love affair with.
If I take those spectacles off for one second, it is hard to see past Sagan making it a fourth title in succession but I will be having a flutter on Kristoff personally. The big Norwegian looks strong and in good form along with Cavendish. However, in this race you need to have some good luck mixed in with your chances too as we have seen in many a year.
In a tour that favours the climbers in the peloton, chances for the sprinters will be few and far between so they will have to take them when they can. That will make the racing even more compelling.