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Power Poll- The Sprinters!



(With Chris gone I'm sooooooo tempted to put riders like Ten Dam, Dessel, Quinziato in this poll. But since I wouldn't see his reaction when he logged on, I'll stick with just the facts Jack.)  (Movie reference anyone?)

What better time to rank the sprinters than right before the first mountain stage?So while Crashdan is looking ahead to the Pyrenees, let's take a look back at the sprinter competition. Its an interesting race for the green jersey as very possibly the best sprinter in the peloton might not don the green in Paris-

1. Mark Cavendish.

Super powers- Bad ass speed on the flats, his team train

Weakness- Any hills whatsoever.

Results- Two 1sts, one 10th.

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 20%

At age 23 this guy stands out as a cut above the rest of the fast guys in France. No one can touch him for sheer speed. His only peers are Benna and Boonen. The question of the day with this guy is should he try to make it all the way to Paris or will the mountains destroy his chances for Olympic track gold? Right now he's feeling his oats but a couple days in the Pyrenees may convince him to abandon- and if not there then the Alps. If he doesn't abandon though his green jersey chances go up and they will go up more if Kirchen gets removed from the yellow jersey competition as then the Columbia train might run down a break or two on the flats. Also if he stays the course he's now the big fave for winning the last stage.  What do you think?  Should he stick it out and try for the Green?

2. Oscar Freire.

Super powers- Fast on hills

Weaknesses- Paying attention.

Results so far-  9th, 7th, 7th, 2nd, 4th.

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 30%

Watching him contest the first two intermediate sprints on stage seven made the world realize that Oscar is in the Tour for the duration and he wants that Green in Paris. Given his climbing abilities and the fact that its likely that the three inter-mountains flat stages will feature successful breakaways, one has to think that he will in fact win that Green. He is paying attention and is getting stronger as the race is unfolding.

Breaking!  Can Kirchen win the green?

Possible, but doubtful. Its possible IF he stays in the hunt for the yellow as he will then get points on mountain stages that the sprinters won't even sniff. However the odds still say that he will crumble on some mountain coming up soon- but still be in shouting distance of the lead.  Remember the flat stages have greater point values to their finishes than the mountains so I give him only about a 10% chance for Green in Paris.

3. Thor Hushovd.

Super powers- Smashing things

Weaknesses- top end speed

Results so far- 15th, 1st, 8th, 4th, 9th

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 20%

Leaving aside Cav, Thor is in a nip and tuck race with Freire to Paris. He's already got a stage win, but I'm worried that he might be tiring a bit. If so his chances of winning the green in Paris are over.

4. Eric Zabel

Super powers- Ageless consistency

Weaknesses- fading top end speed and team train

Results so far- 22nd, 5th, 6th, 3rd, 6th

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 10%

This guy is just amazing. Only a slight chance to win any stage but he's 4th in points. But a win on any stage would be a fluke at this point. He knows what to do but he just can't quite do it any more. To be fair though his sprinting abilities at age 37 1/2 are better than anyone below here other than Ciolek. Could well finish above Hunter, Hushovd, and Cavendish which means that if Freire loses interest,  Zabel could retire with a last green jersey. Somehow that would be fitting.

5. Robbie Hunter

Super powers- Endurance

Weaknesses- raw speed

Results so far- 4th, 12th, 6th, 10th

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 10%

I almost put him over Zabel cause I think Hunter will have a good 2nd half of the Tour. I resisted that impulse though because Zabel is money when it comes to high (top-5) placings.

6. Gerald Ciolek

Super powers- Oscar Freire Jr.

Weaknesses- lead out man for Cavendish

Results so far- 3rd, 2nd

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 5%

Younger than Cavendish by a year, closer to Hagen in age than Cav, the kid has some climbing ability that will do him well in the next decade.  His chances for winning the Green depend on Cavendish dropping out and Kirchen blowing up.  That would be fun as I'd like to see him on the end of the Columbia train too. I personally love this kid.

7. Robbie McEwen

Super powers- Crafty

Weaknesses- top end speed and no team support whatsoever

Results so far- 5th, 8th, 17th

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 2%

As we saw in the Giro, we are seeing the end of a long and beautiful career by a guy who can sure put his foot in his mouth. He can no longer seriously contest for the overall win so I wonder if he will stick it out through the mountains. I say no.

8. Roman Feillu

Super powers- He's French.

Weaknesses-He's French.

Results so far- 3rd, 13th, 11th

Chance to wear Green in Paris- 2%

Other than his successful breakaway I'm not sure how feillu and Casper are divvying up the sprinter responsibilities on Agritubel. They both tend to finish around each other i the bunch sprints about around 11th-14th places.  Expect him to look for more breaks. Oh- he's one year older than Cav, two years older than Ciolek.

9. The Field: Forster, Casper, Duque, Steegmans, Flores, Chicchi, Cooke etc.

Chances for one of the to win in Paris- Only if massive injuries happen to the guys above. Give that a 1% chance. The guy I'm most surprised about is Steegmans- and if I'm surprised than you can bet Tinkoff are too. He did get 7th today but he had a lead out that a top notch sprinter has to put away and win. Otherwise his best finish is 12th.

Its interesting how Duque and Chicchi are called young and upcoming sprinters when they are both 28. Okay, since I'm interested in the sprinters' ages here's a table:

21- Hagen (eight months older than Ciolek)

22-Ciolek (Birthday is in September)

23- Cavendish, Rojas, Sutton, Martin

24- Feillu, Haussler, Weylandt

25- Serov

26- Greipel & Vaitkus

27-Napolitano, Haedo, Bazayev, Fernandez, Lorenzetto, 

28- Boonen, Bennati, Duque, Steegmans, Chicchi


30- Forster, Cooke

31- Hunter, Flores, Usov

32- Casper