The intermediate sprint on the first mountain stage of the Tour de France is not usually one of the highlights of the race. Nor is it usually previewed ahead of time by analysts. However, it was at that very intermediate sprint that André Greipel regained the green jersey, which he had lost to Peter Sagan on stage 8, on the Mur du Bretagne. Greipel has outdone himself as sprinting goes at this Tour de France, beating Cavendish and Sagan on the first sprint day, and showing it was no fluke by following it up on stage 5. By stage 7, Cavendish finally got his legs going, but Greipel maintained his hold until the following day, and regained it earlier today.
Sagan, of course, started out as the big favourite, especially with this mountainous course and after he took the jersey, many people wrote the competition off. But after what happened in the mountains... other avenues have to be pursued. With Greipel in the jersey, it's time to see can this competition go to Paris, and be as competitive as other battles for the green jersey have been in the past.
First, let's look at the stages remaining where it looks like no one will get any points at all. They would be stages 19 and 20. The intermediate sprints come after big climbs, so no advantage there for either rider.
Now, the stages where there will be very few points handed out. For stage 11, I imagine a break of ten or more will get away, so not many points in the sprint for either. The same goes for stage 18. There may be a big break, and even Sagan may not get over the climbs preceding it. Stage 16 is also unlikely to yield many points, as there tends to be large breaks on stages such as that. Okay, maybe they'll get in the break, but I'll assume they don't. Not much advantage there either.
There is also a stage where only Sagan can get points, due to difficult run-ins to the intermediate. This is stage 17. I'd guess eight extra points to Sagan.
This leaves stage 12 out of the mountain stages, and stages 13, 14, 15 and 21 of the flat or hilly stages. On stage 12, the intermediate sprint is early, and on the flat, so twenty points may be available. Let's say a five-point advantage to Greipel.
Stage 13 has an 8% kick in the last 500 metres, which really suits Sagan. Greipel..not so much. Supposing Sagan comes second, and picks up 25 points, I see him picking up at least 20 points.
Stage 14 finishes on a climb even harder than the Mur du Bretagne, so I don't really see Sagan as a factor at the finish, so no points there. The intermediate may yield three points to Greipel.
Stage 15 looks like a transition stage, but I really think the sprinters are going to win. That big climb was right before the finish of a stage in 2009, and Cavendish made it over to win. Yes it was the other side of the climb, but that early it won't make a difference. This could be a big one, and I think that it should yield at least fifteen points to Greipel.
So, with my flawed calculations, that would leave a total of 314 points for Sagan and 312 points to Greipel heading onto the final stage on the Champs-Elysees. It actually looks good enough for Greipel, though I wouldn't put any money on it as yet. These calculations are utter guesswork, and quick guesswork at that, but if Greipel can do well in the intermediate sprints, and win at least one of stages 15 and 21, he stands a good chance of standing on the podium in Paris