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Last Call for Dots Contenders!

The green jersey is done with, the white over and the yellow competition is finished as well, bar crashes. This only leaves one wide-open competition, and it's the fight for the polka-dot jersey.

Chris Froome in the vicinity of polka-dots.
Chris Froome in the vicinity of polka-dots.

There are three four stages left in the Tour de France, with a very high number of mountain points, and it's still difficult to predict who'll ride into Paris with polka-dots on his shoulders. Who's in contention for it? Well, that's hard to say. A long, solo escape à la Chiappucci can yield dozens of points, but winning a single mountain-top finish can give even more.

First, let's have a look at the table as it stands:

1. Christopher Froome 61
2. Joaquím Rodríguez 52
3. Jakob Fuglsang 41
4. Serge Pauwels 40
5. Richie Porte 40
6. Romain Bardet 38
7. Rafal Majka 34
8. Nairo Quintana 32
9. Alejandro Valverde 32
10. Robert Gesink


Where will the points be scored? This table might help:

Stage Mid-stage points Summit finish points
18 46 0=46
19 40 20=60
20 25 50=75

As you can see, the most points are found on stage 20, with the summit finish worth 50 points. The ideal scenario would be to win stage 20 from the break after taking the Croix de Fer, for riders like Fuglsang and Rodríguez. If they do so, it may just win them the jersey. However, if the winner of that stage comes from the peloton, it is unlikely that one of them will win.

Who has a chance of winning? I'll start from the bottom:

Robert Gesink will not win the polka-dot jersey. His 28 points all come from one mountain - his fourth place on La Pierre Saint Martin and that was by far his best ride of the race. He looks to be getting anything but stronger, and will spend the rest of the week getting low top 10 places.

Alejandro Valverde probably will not win the polka-dot jersey. His 32 points come from his fifth place on stage 10, and 9th place on stage 12. He is the third or fourth strongest climber in the race, so the only way I can see him scoring enough points to lead up the standings is by attacking on climbs to help Quintana, and hanging on to finish ahead of the other lead riders.

Nairo Quintana might win the polka-dot jersey. He already has one in his closet, but if Quintana can prove to outbludgeon Froome on Alpe d'Huez he will perhaps score enough points to take his second jersey. In finishing third on La Pierre Saint Martin, he scored his 32 points, and looked not much weaker than Froome in the opening Alps skirmish. However, if a break wins on Alpe d'Hue, or Froome beats him, his hopes are out the window.

Rafal Majka probably won't win the polka-dot jersey. Our defending champion was in a prime position to take a few points today, in the breakaway, but he didn't take the chance, leading me to believe that his heart isn't really in it. Anyway, I don't think he'll win on a summit finish from a breakaway, and will likely be involved in Contador's next doomed plan to take all his time back. Sorry Rafa, you're not getting another jersey.

Romain Bardet won't win the polka-dot jersey. While he's racked up 38 points from the umpteen breakaways he's been in, he's never really looked too strong, and had problems on stage 17. I think that winning the jersey will require at least 2nd place on Alpe d'Huez that's not behind Froome, along with stealing a LOT more points, and I don't think that Bardet will be able to do both of those things.

Richie Porte won't win the polka-dot jersey. He wore it for a few days in Froome's stead, after playing the worse paid "2" role in Sky's 1-2 on stage 10, getting 40 points, but other than that hasn't scored, and him getting the jersey will not exactly be top priority for Sky.

Serge Pauwels would be my dream winner of the polka-dot jersey, but he probably won't win. I was very surprised to see him so high up in the standings in fourth, considering he's not finished too high on any of the summit finishes, but there he is on 40 points. He's also been in the break every other day, and rode to a not-too shabby top 15 place on stage 10. No idea what MTN have done to him, but it's worked. Will need to score tomorrow.

Jakob Fuglsang might win the polka-dot jersey. He's far enough behind to get in breaks, and has the climbing ability to score points when others may not be able to. He's stated his ambition to go for the jersey, and is close enough to strike. He can do it, but Rodríguez is in the same position as him, and outclimbed him on stage 12.

Joaquím Rodríguez is a good bet to win the polka-dot jersey. The Spaniard beat Fuglsang on Plateau du Beille, and may be the strongest climber in breaks that get away. However, if the peloton win one or both of the summit finishes, he looks shaky.

Which leaves us with Christopher Froome. Fifty of his sixty-one points came from his victory in the opening mountain stage of the Tour, and he looks safe to win it again, with 70 points available for summit finishes. However, his team are falling back, and breaks are making it, so Froome may let them, and leave the jersey for Rodríguez or Fuglsang. Does he really care about the jersey if he's not going to wear it on the road? Yes, he'll probably win.

I'm not a fan of this system of huge points for summit finishes, or the "Charteau Rule" as I like to call it. All of my speculation comes down to the 50 points on Alpe d'Huez, and how motivated the peloton are on a certain day, which I don't like. I know it's so the best climber wins the jersey, but do we really care about that? In a Tour such as this, the best climber will, and is about to win yellow. I for one think it would be nicer to see someone of Anthony Charteau's ilk win the polka-dot jersey. Where's the harm in that?