Finally! A maillot pois update... or more to the point, we finally have a competition. One of the sport's more eye-catching jerseys has been the subject of pretty feverish pursuit this past 10 days, as first Thomas Voeckler, then Sylvain Chavanel, then David de la Fuente took off after (and nabbed) spots for a day or so. Now, however, the jersey is in the hands of a pure climber, and one who may see fit to take it all the way to Paris. But there are a few factors to consider:
- Riccò stated that his ambition was the white jersey and the Alpe d'Huez stage win. While the latter dovetails nicely with spots, the former may cause him to ride more carefully.
- If he's too successful, he might start seeing himself in yellow.
- His closest competition is his own teammate de la Fuente, leaving open the chance that he'll let go of it intentionally.
- Spotty points are often won on early, long escapes. Nobody's letting Riccò out of their sights again.
On the other hand, he has said he wants to keep it, and any success on a stage finish will mean gobs of points... something de la Fuente isn't likely to enjoy in the Alps. Then there's the rest of the competition. In the top ten behind Riccò's 77 points are GC candidates Kohl, Schleck and Evans... scratch them from any interest. There's Sebastian Lang, whose presence is the result of a long attack that he's unlikely to try again. Then there are Piepoli, Cobo and de la Fuente... all Riccò's teammates. That leaves Luis Leon Sanchez Gil and Vincenzo Nibali -- at 31 and 30 points -- as the likeliest challengers.
The only alternative to the winner being decided in a Saunier Duval team meeting is the prospect of someone well down on the GC taking one or two really long fliers in the Alps. I'm guessing that the Alpe d'Huez stage alone is worth up to 80 points, and last year Juan Mauricio Soler won with 206 total points, so it's still quite early. There's plenty of time for the random unknown unheralded Spanish dude to show up and take over the classification. Or, dare I say it? Remy Di Gregorio. But a climber like Riccò, if he really wants to win the spots, will be hard to top.