• Peter Sagan has seven green jersey wins to his name (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Will we see a toppling of the great Peter Sagan in the Tour de France green jersey battle this season?
By
SBS Cycling Central

27 Aug 2020 - 12:01 PM 

Largely regarded as the second most prestigious jersey at the Tour de France, behind the yellow jersey for the overall winner of the race, the green jersey rewards the sprinters who can consistently top the standings on each stage. 

Points are awarded for finishing in the top 15 positions on each stage, with the higher points totals heavily biased towards winning the flat stages normally won by pure sprinters. 50 points is the maximum available for the winner of the stage. The other way to score points is at the intermediate sprints, one per stage located between the start and the finish, with 20 points the reward for the first over the line.

The competition has long been regarded as Peter Sagan's jersey, the only break in his seven victories came when he was disqualified, some think harshly, after a collision with Mark Cavendish that resulted in a crash during the 2017 Tour de France (green jersey won by Michael Matthews).

What the experts say

SBS Tour de France panel of experts weighed in with their say on who will win the Tour de France.

Who's going to win?

David McKenzie, SBS Cycling Analyst - Peter Sagan

Bridie O'Donnell, SBS Cycling Analyst, commentator - Caleb Ewan

Matt Keenan, SBS Cycling commentator - Peter Sagan

Mike Tomalaris, SBS Tour de France Host - Peter Sagan

Robbie McEwen, SBS Cycling expert commentator - Peter Sagan

Smokie chances

David McKenzie - Caleb Ewan

Bridie O'Donnell - Peter Sagan

Matt Keenan - Sonny Colbrelli

Mike Tomalaris - Caleb Ewan

Robbie McEwen - Caleb Ewan

Contenders

The indomitable Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) has built up an impressive collection of seven jerseys out of seven Tours de France completed. The organisers have changed rules to try and make the green jersey fight competitive but Sagan keeps winning the classification by massive margins every year. 

This is because the Slovak star is incredibly versatile - able to win bunch sprints as well as take intermediate sprint points in mountain stages where his rivals can't - and impressively consistent - rarely outside the top five riders on a sprint stage. He hasn't been in peak Sagan form but his fourth-place finishes in Strade Bianche and Milan San Remo show he's still strong. Sagan will probably take about 60-80 points this year which pure sprinters won't be able to.

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) got as close as anyone has in toppling Sagan from green in last year's Tour and will likely have a better chance this season. The Sydneysider tuned up with a few good performances over the past few weeks, second in Milano-Torino and a win at Tour de Wallonnie.

He will benefit from a lot of the intermediate sprint points being moved to earlier in the stages, so he won't have to battle over the climbs as much, where he doesn't excel. He also has a good leadout, with right-hand man Roger Kluge the last man for the Australian.

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If it's not to be an Australian win, it could be the time for likeable Irishman Sam Bennett (Deceunink-QuickStep). Bennett has rarely found himself as the first choice sprinter, most recently relegated to just riding the Vuelta a Espana because BORA-hansgrohe had other priorities. He'll be raring to go in his first 'real' shot at the Tour, in his previous performance he became the worst ever finisher at the Tour, last in the race that featured the most finishers and his 174th will likely last a while with the reduction in team sizes.

Bennett is in solid, if not spectacular condition at present, but he'll have to make his own luck in the sprint finishes as he hasn't got a dedicated specialist team of leadout riders.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has been brought up as a potential green jersey candidate and certainly the star Belgian ticks a lot of boxes. He can sprint, maybe not quite to the level of a pure sprinter, but if any mistakes are made, van Aert has punished them in the past. Very good at positioning in the sprints and with an ability greater than Sagan to take points on mountain stages.

What will count against van Aert is his team responsibilities for Jumbo-Visma, for whom he is expected to be a key domestique. Will he be allowed off the leash?

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Elia Viviani (Cofidis) is of the class required to win the green jersey here but indifferent form and the fact that he rarely places much emphasis on the sprint classification will weigh against him. The Italian star has a serviceable sprint train, but with Guillaume Martin coming into form, the team has been split between Viviani and the French climber for leadership.

Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) is too good to leave out of a relatively slim list of sprint contenders, if only for the quality of his leadout. He'll be launched to the line by Max Wahlscheid, Ryan Gibbons and Edvald Boasson Hagen, and he's shown that he's quick enough to take advantage of a good situation.

He's been in good if not spectacular form this season, taking wins at the Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice, the Italian national championships and the European continental championships. He boasts two sprint jerseys to his name in the Giro d'Italia, so he can win them and the 31-year-old appears to be in career-best form.

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The Tour de France begins on August 29, with every stage broadcast on SBS HD and the ŠKODA Tour Tracker.