Go here for my pre-race Points handicap. Of course you'll already have it memorized...
Last time, I called the winner of the Green jersey for Valverde-either Alejandro himself or the GC winner. The basic reason was because the sprinter field was so even and there were so many non-sprinter stages that this year as in some of the past years, a non-sprinter would win it. Obviously it's too early to tell if THIS is the one prediction that I made this year will come true or not but until then below is a ranking of the sprinters in the race, including their chances at winning the Points.
BEFORE I BEGIN let me say that Vueltabecco will not be adding his insightful comments on the sprinters power polls, not do I know where he is. I have heard that he took care of all his IKEA shopping needs well before the Vuelta started. Just throwing that out there...
1. Andre Greipel Columbia
Why? Two stage wins and two 4th places. VDS points so far: 270
Chance at the Green and prove me a dufus? Yes. Yes he does. Damn fine chance if you ask me-and if you are reading this you ARE asking me.
Comments: I still see the top 4-6 sprinters as being roughly equal and in that case go with the sprinter with the best lead-out and that's this German sprinter who isn't looking to ride for Australia sometime.
More on the break.
Why? The stage six win put him into second here plus a second place on stage three. VDS points: 130
Chance at the Green and prove me a dufus? Possible. Slim really.
Comments: I really like watching this guy, partially because he and his team seem well coached. I loved the team's move on stage three where Henderson won. Remember? There was the devious little chicane less than a click before the finish which eliminated most of the sprinters. But the Vulcans Vacans knew it was coming and jumped all over it. They didn't quite have enough to finish the win but it was heads up play there.
Now it becomes a mess of undifferentiated riders, much like glacial till. The rest of these guys have done a little but nothing that stands out. As such none of them has a chance at the Points jersey and thus can't prove me a dufus. Let me go review them and you'll see what I mean. I don't rank them because you can;t say one is really doing better than the others:
- Gerald Ciolek
Why? Won stage two but diddly since. VDS points: 80. Other stage placings after the prologue: 19, 183, 177, 190. Must be hurting after the Liege crash? Can easily see him pull out.
- Daniele Bennati
Why? Last two stages he's come in 3rd. Perhaps he's heating up finally? It would be nice to see him whip out a win or three, wouldn't it? Take off his losers garb and slip into something a little more comfortable, perhaps in a shade of green? Purr... VDS points: 80, including 10 in the prologue.
- Tyler Farrar
Why? touted as the fastest non-Cav sprinter coming into the race, he's done little to prove it. I mean winning at Eneco when most riders are warming up is one thing; winning here is quite another. He does have a 5th, a 4th, and a 2nd, so one can imagine him winning sometime. VDS points: 115
- Tom Boonen
Why? Has a 2nd and a 5th. 130 VDS points? The Sprinter Who Doesn't Like To Sprint is an also-ran at this point.
- Greg Henderson
Why? 1st on stage 3, able to handle the Vulcan gambit. One thing is clear: Columbia has a well defined hierarchy with their sprinters. To put it another way, Henderson is to Greipel as Greipel is to Cavendish.
- William Bonnet
Why? Folks, work with me! I'm reaching here when I list a guy who's finished 5th twice. All that's left are surprise placings by lead-outs (Sabatini, Grabsch, Velo, Weylandt, Sieberg) and an aging star (Freire). Vigano? Hammond? Maybe but doubtful.
So where is the KOM or GC rankings? Child, please! Hey when Tom Leezer is holding the KOM jersey you know you need to wait.