Last year Mark Cavendish won a second green jersey a decade after his first with four sprint victories that saw him draw level with Eddy Merckx’s long-standing Tour de France record of 34 stage wins. But the Manxman’s snub by his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team means we will have to wait at least another year to see Cavendish attempt to become the outright record stage record holder – and probably in the colours of a different team.
More pressingly, it means a new rider will stand atop the podium in Paris with a green jersey covering his shoulders. That man, however, won’t necessarily be Cav’s teammate and replacement, Fabio Jakobsen. The Dutchman has proved to be the fastest sprinter this season but the 109th edition of the Tour is a race seriously lacking in flat finishes. And beyond the Grand Depart in Denmark, there are no back-to-back opportunities for the fastmen from a parcours that favours the puncheurs, climbers and breakaway artists over the flat-track bullies.
All this plays into the hands of the one team whose major objective, funnily enough, is not green but yellow: the Jumbo-Visma squad of GC duo Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard, whose Belgian teammate Wout van Aert has the exact characteristics needed to win the green jersey in 2022.
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How the green jersey competition works

Points for the green jersey competition are awarded at the finish line of all stages as well as at one intermediate sprint during all stages except the time trials. The rider with the most points wears the maillot vert – unless he is also topping the general classification, in which case he will be in yellow and his nearest rival in green.
Here is the breakdown, with a different number of points up for grabs depending on the terrain:
  • Largely flat stages without any major difficulties (Stages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 13, 15, 19, 21): 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3 and 2 points for the first 15 riders
  • “Rolling” stages (Stages 7, 10, 14, 16): 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6- 5-4-3-2 points
  • Stages deemed “very difficult” (Stages 4, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18): 20-17-15-13-11- 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
  • Time trials (Stages 1, 20): 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
  • Intermediate sprints: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
Punchy uphill finishes at Longwy (Stage 6) and Lausanne (Stage 8), a day over the cobbles (Stage 5), and some extremely undulating outings (Stage 4 to Calais, Stage 13 to Saint-Etienne), will favour the more versatile fast finishers rather than the pure sprinters, who will only have a maximum of six stages – but in reality, probably far less – on which to showcase their speed. That means a rider in the Cavendish mould would have struggled to win the green jersey even if selected.
Here's the rider ratings for the green jersey competition…

5 star: Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in the green jersey during the 2022 Criterium du Dauphine

Image credit: Getty Images

Speaking in November, the Belgian all-rounder from Jumbo-Visma said: “Next year I really want to go for that green jersey and for that we will draw up a plan that fits within the general team tactics. But even then that doesn’t mean that I have a free role while the six others concentrate on Primoz Roglic.”
Such is the Belgian’s dilemma at Jumbo-Visma: while he could easily target green, his priority will always be to ride in support of his teammates targeting yellow, with Jonas Vingegaard last year finishing runner-up to Tadej Pogacar after Roglic’s withdrawal through injury.
But domestique duties have not stopped Van Aert from winning six stages in his first three Tours, including an indomitable hat-trick last year involving a mountain scalp on Ventoux, a sprint stage, and a time trial win. Given the demanding route this July, it seems inconceivable that the 27-year-old won’t add to his tally – even with Roglic and Vingegaard to support – and without a surfeit of bunch sprints, Van Aert should not loose too much ground on days when he is required to lend a hand.
Addendum: Since the riders arrived in Copenhagen it has been made known that Van Aert is still struggling with the knee injury which ruled him out of the Belgian national championships. This would be grave cause for concern - not just for his green jersey chances but for his team's pursuit of yellow, too. Watch this space...

4 star: Mathieu van der Poel

LE GRAND BORNAND, FRANCE - JULY 03: Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step Green Points Jersey & Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team Alpecin-Fenix Yellow Leader Jersey at start during the 108th Tour de France 20

Image credit: Getty Images

“No, I’m not going to get involved in the battle for the green jersey,” the Dutchman told RIDE magazine in a recent interview, adding: “It takes away a lot of freedom, while I want to fully focus on stage wins. Maybe this is something for my teammate Jasper Philipsen.”
Should those words rule out Van der Poel from the reckoning? Perhaps. But he may well change tact should he find himself in green towards the end of the challenging opening week.
The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider famously wore yellow on the second day of his debut Tour last year following his victory at Mur de Bretagne. Having given up his maiden Grand Tour at the end of the first week, Van der Poel showed in May’s Giro d’Italia that he can go the distance in a three-week stage race – so it’s only logical that he’s considered for the prize that most suits his strengths.
Like Van Aert, it’s impossible to think that Van der Poel won’t pick up something from this race – especially with those punchy finishes, the 20km of cobbles on the road to Arenberg, and the kind of undulating breakaway days where he showcased his skills in the Giro. And while he admits that his Belgian rival has the edge in the green jersey battle – by virtue of his standing and superior experience – the versatility of Van der Poel still makes him more of a favourite than some of the more one-dimensional fast finishers.

3 star: Michael Matthews, Mads Pedersen, Peter Sagan, Fabio Jakobsen

Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Bora-Hansgrohe retains the green jersey of best sprinter following stage 4 of the 106th Tour de France 2019, a stage between Reims and Nancy (213,5km) on July 9, 2019 in Nancy, France

Image credit: Getty Images

Australia’s Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) was the only rider to win the green jersey during Sagan’s long reign, when the Slovakian showman (TotalEnergies) won a record-breaking seven green jerseys in eight years. If both riders have managed to end winless droughts this season, both have been on the wane since the likes of Van Aert and Van der Poel burst onto the scene and made uphill punchy finishes their domain.
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is another younger talent who excels over the kind of tough terrain where Sagan and Matthews used to make hay. With the Tour starting in his native Denmark, Pedersen will have extra motivation this July – and has already notched six wins this year, while topping the points classification in three races.
The anomaly to this 3-star group is the man replacing Cavendish at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl – the Tour debutant Jakobsen. With eight wins and three green jerseys from five stage races this year, the 25-year-old has proven himself to be the fastest and most consistent finisher in the peloton. Even considering his inexperience and the lack of flat stages for the pure sprinters, Jakobsen should pick up enough points for a tilt at the green jersey. Whether he can win it depends on how much freedom Van Aert and Van der Poel enjoy in the opening week – and whether he can hack the pressure of having ousted Cavendish from the race.

2 star: Caleb Ewan, Jasper Philipsen, Dylan Groenewegen

Jasper Philipsen leads the green jersey classification after two stages

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And so to the pure sprinters. Australia’s Ewan (Lotto Soudal) had a rotten Giro and really needs to bounce back with a win or two. The green jersey won’t be a target for him – but it could become one should the 27-year-old pocket rocket notch a hat-trick of wins like he did in 2019.
With a relatively flat finish to Stage 19 just two days from the traditional sprint on the Champs-Elysees, there is a far bigger incentive for the sprinters to stick out the mountains and make it all the way to Paris. That means a couple of early wins for someone like Ewan, or Dutchman Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco), could morph into a push for green.
If Groenewegen hasn’t won a stage on the Tour for three years that’s because he hasn’t ridden the race since 2019. No longer part of a Jumbo-Visma team favouriting the yellow jersey over bunch sprints, the 28-year-old will return to the Tour as part of a BikeExchange-Jayco team that doesn’t have a genuine GC contender and so will be moulded around getting him back to winning ways.
Belgium’s Philipsen has got the nod at Alpecin-Deceuninck over his outgoing compatriot Tim Merlier. The 24-year-old has yet to win in the Tour but three Vuelta stage wins highlight his class.
“I don’t know if it will be a goal for Jasper,” Van der Poel told RIDE about his teammate’s prospects for green. “But it is something he could target because he crosses the climbs quickly enough to occasionally grab some extra points in the intermediate sprints in a difficult stage.”

1 star: Magnus Cort, Alberto Dainese, Alexander Kristoff, Edvald Boasson Hagen

Team Deceuninck rider Ireland's Sam Bennett celebrates on the podium after winning the best sprinter's green jersey of the 107th edition of the Tour de France

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Ireland’s Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the green jersey two years ago - and would have been on a lowly one star given his continued troubles this season - but he has missed out on Tour selection for a second time running.
Norwegian veteran Kristoff (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) is unlikely to win many, if any, stages in the Tour, but he’s a versatile and consistent finisher who should keep adding points to his tally.
Back in the wins for the first time since the pandemic, South Africa’s Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) was returning to form at just the right time, although a late Covid positive saw him replaced by Guy Niv on the eve of the race. Also returning to form after some early seasons issues is Denmark’s Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) who will hope to get back to winning ways after a frustrating Giro where he finished very strongly after a troubled start. If he's back to his best - and remember, he came third in the Vuelta's points classification off the back of three stage wins - then he could be a tasty outside bet.
Italy’s Dainese (Team DSM) won a maiden Grand Tour stage at the Giro and will look to build on that, while Frenchman Coquard (Cofidis) is still searching for that elusive stage win on home soil in July. Neither really have much of a chance to don the green jersey, but this is a race that always throws up a surprise or two. In Coquard's case, that search will go on for at least another year: a late positive Covid test on the eve of the race has forced him out.
Last but not least, Norwegian veteran Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) has been drafted in as a late replacement for the ill Cristian Rodriguez. Stage wins for 'Eddie the Boss' may prove something of an anachronism but he's consistent and could gobble up green points here and there in what will be his 12th Tour appearance, especially if teammate Sagan is feeling the heat.

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 20: Podium / Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey, White Best Young Jersey, Polka Dot Mountain Jersey / Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step Green Points Jersey / Celebration / T

Image credit: Getty Images

Polka dot jersey preview

The Tour’s king of the mountains competition is notoriously hard to predict because it often depends on which GC riders have seen their yellow hopes go up in smoke in the opening week. Recently, it’s also favoured the uphill juggernaut that is Tadej Pogacar, who scooped the polka dot jersey by default alongside both of his overall wins – mirroring Chris Froome in 2015.
But a tweak in the rules means riders no longer get double points over the top of hors catégorie climbs – something which used to favour the GC riders over the breakaway specialists and raiders. Points are still awarded at the top of all 61 categorised climbs over the course of the three weeks, with a maximum total of 324 points up for grabs. Here is the point breakdown:
  • Hors Catégorie (7 in total): 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2 points
  • Cat.1 climbs (10): 10-8-6-4-2-1 points
  • Cat.2 (6): 5-3-2-1 points
  • Cat.3 (16): 2-1 points
  • Cat.4 (22): 1 point
While the tweak to the scoring system won’t necessarily rule out the likes of Pogacar, Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard from winning the polka dot jersey, the far more likely scenario is that a strong climber who is not part of the GC battle will end up in the maillot à pois.
Depending on their domestique duties for their respective leaders, the Polish veteran Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) and the American Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) have the characteristics required to do well in the KOM competition – but will they be let off the leash? It’s unlikely.
That could play into the hands of Australians Ben O’Connor (Ag2R-Citroen) and Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Frenchman Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu (both Groupama-FDJ), the Belgian Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), the Canadian Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech), Germany’s Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic).

Romain Bardet, polka dot jersey, Tour de France, 2019

Image credit: Eurosport

Given their proven GC pedigree, however, the likes of O’Connor, Woods, Pinot, Bardet (who won the jersey in 2019), Gaudu and Quintana would all have had to lost significant time on, say, the Green Belt bridge or the cobbles if they want to have the freedom to ride clear in search of polka dot points.
That makes a rider like Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EastPost) a far more appealing candidate. Not only has the Portuguese already won the Giro’s blue climber's jersey competition in the past, but he’s also clearly on some good climbing form following his recent win on the Mont Ventoux Denivélé Challenge.
Teuns, too, is a tasty option, provided Bahrain Victorious don’t insist on him being at the beck and call of GC duo Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso. The same could be said of Kamna, the German double stage winner from the Giro, should he be granted time away from shepherding Bora-Hansgrohe leader Aleksandr Vlasov.

Ruben Guerreiro - Giro d'Italia 2020, stage 17 - Getty Images

Image credit: Getty Images

Polka dot jersey ratings

5 star: Guerreiro and Kamna
4 star: Teuns and Pogacar
3 star: Pinot, Bardet, O’Connor, Barguil
2 star: Storer, Quintana, Woods, Roglic
1 star: Kuss, Majka, Vingegaard
And finally, the white jersey is awarded to the best young rider which, in this day and age, is essentially and by default the same as the man in yellow – and will be for the next two years provided Pogacar keeps on winning the Tour. The maillot blanc is open to riders born after 1 January 1997 – that’s to say, aged 25 or under.
Should Pogacar falter badly this year, then his teammate Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) would probably be the favourite for white, alongside the likes of Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Italy’s Andrea Bagioli (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) or Britain’s Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers).
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