Ever since next year's Tour route was announced and probably well before, Mark Cavendish has proclaimed his intentions of winning the Green Jersey that Thor Hushovd won last year. Of course, the God of Thunder's fashion sense has told him that Green will still be In next year so he'd like to keep it too. Then there's the like-minded Green obsessions of Ale-Jet, Benna, The Wenatchee Whippet, and several other Fast Men. All these guys want to wear Green next year! They're obsessed-like Bella Swan obsessed! And since she (Bella) lives in Forks, Washington, one of the greenest places on earth, I can just imagine these sprinters making treks this winter to Forks in hopes that one of Edward Cullen's sisters would fall MASSIVELY in love with them. (They, of course, would want nothing more than to passively love one of these stupid, stupid vampires, who, they imagine, would turn THEM into an immortal and (important!) ridiculously fast vampire so they could win the Green Jersey hundreds of times over and spend the rest of their undead existence passively obsessing over their vampire wife. The ultimate PED!)
Yeah that was one long run-on sentence. Sue me. I live in a world where millions upon millions of girls and women swoon over the Twilight books. Like there's nothing better to do in the world than to have no inner drive to do anything original at all. If that ain't heck, I don't know what is. And I am just waiting for some writer to finally capitalize upon the fact that most men fantasize a similar passive existence. "Why the hell would I want to examine my life? I just want to be... wanted!"
Okay, I feel a little better. On the flip we'll write about Cav's chances for the Points Jersey.
So Cav wants a Green Jersey. Isn't that nice. Any chance he can earn one though? Let's figure this out. To do that we must first note what he did this year:
Cav finished 2nd this year to Thor, 270 points to 280. Along the way he won those six stages: 2,3,10,11, 19, and 21. He also finished 3rd on stage 5, 16th on stage 6, and 8th on stage 12. All together, that's serious pointage. Enough to win the Points in 08 and 07. So what happened?
Cav's fans would first point out his relegation on stage 14. Remember? What a stage! This was the stage that had the breakaway with Hincapie in it which left St's Paul's and Phil's hearts all aflutter that George might be wearing the Yellow jersey at the end of the day-until Evil Garmin helped AG2R almost chase down the break. Almost, I say, as Ivanov took a late flyer to win the thing while the other eleven riders in the breakaway also finished ahead of the peloton. When said peloton finished, Columbia's heart broke all the harder as Cavendish's 12th place finish, and first in the peloton, was judged to be the result of him not keeping his line and he was relegated to the back, thus losing 14 points all told to Thor-which is more than the final point spread in their competition.
That relegation was a heartbreaker, but it wasn't the only reason why Cav came up short. Cavendish also never contested any intermediate sprints, something Thor did a couple of times, most famously on stage 17, the mountain stage to La Grand Bornand. In retrospect, i seemed like last year Cav was mainly focused on winning stages as opposed to the Green Jersey.
But what about 2010? If he says he's going for the Green, might that mean he might look for some intermediate sprint point action? One would hope so and if so that would make his chances all the better. If so, then does he have this competition in the bag?
Not so fast my friend! There's one factor that will make it harder while another factor that will complicate the competition.
The thing that will lower his chances is the fact that there are only nine flat stages (per ASO) and only five definite winnable stages, with a possibility of three more (per Cav). So it looks like there's fewer bunch sprint wins out there for Cav. Plus there are more medium mountain stages next year than this: four as compared to one. PLUS there's two hilly stages next year while there were no such classified stages this year. PLUS PLUS, like last year's stage to Barcelona where Cab finished 16th on the uphill finish (which Thor won) we are not at all sure that Cav will be contesting a bunch sprint on the cobbled stage three. All this means that it looks like there could be fewer stages next year for Cav to pile up points by winning bunch sprints. Not good, especially considering that he won't have Hincapie to escort him to the line. (It must be said though that Columbia should be able to replace George.)
But the complicating factor might help out Cav. Simply put, next year's Points competition should be more contested then this year's two man race. Cav and Thor will be present next year, but in addition so will a) Petacchi, who should have a Lampre train dedicated to him, b) Farrar, who improved from month to month last year and so should be better next July, c) Bennati, who might rediscover his top gear now that he's a year away from his last injuries, d) Ciolek, who was sick last year and not at full strength, e) EBH who will be looking to snag any complicated (hillier) stages, and f) guys like Boonen, Haussler, and Pozzato, etc. who could well ride away with the cobbled stage.
So it looks like next year's Points competition looks more complicated. That could favor Cavendish if he takes care of business in winning the simpler flat stages while the other riders cancel each other out on the more difficult days. Part of why Hushovd won last year was because it was a two man race only and he only had to worry (much) about Cavendish. But basically a wide open Points competition could favor Cav since he has more of a chance to win more stages than any other rider. IF he has the same superior form compared to his sprinting competition like he did this year-and that's not a given.
I can't decide yet if Cavendish will win the Points competition next year. You?