Tour de France betting odds include a prop bet for who will clinch the Green Jersey. With Peter Sagan being the obvious favorite, are there other riders deserving of a bet?
The battle for the other leader's jerseys in the Tour de France are as keenly fought as the battle for the yellow jersey, with the sprinters jersey and the KOM jersey two of the most famous in cycling. Here we will take a look at one of the most iconic jerseys in the Tour de France after the Yellow Jersey, the Green Jersey for the leader of the Points competition.
The points classification is the third oldest of the currently awarded jersey classifications. It was introduced in the 1953 Tour de France, the classification was added to draw the participation of the sprinters as well as celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tour.
The sprinters' points jersey isn't always won by the best 'pure' sprinter in the race as there are so many hills and climbs to get over along the way. Peter Sagan, for example, goes for his fourth Green Jersey in a row despite not being the best out-and-out sprinter in any of the three years. And he won it last year despite not winning a single stage, nine top five placings certainly helped though!
There’s a change this year to the way the points are awarded in the Green Jersey competition in what looks like an attempt to make it a more open competition for the pure sprinters and not just Peter Sagan's for the taking again. They are now awarding 50 points to the winner and 30 to the runner up meaning the difference is a large 20 points, compared to just 10 under the old rules. The number of points up for grabs depends on the stage - the sprint stages offer more points in a bid to try to ensure the sprinters jersey is won by a sprinter!
The end result in terms of the betting was that Sagan was no longer the absolute certainty he has been for the last two years when prices first started coming out towards the end of 2014. Sagan opened around 8/11 with Skybet and 4/6 from Paddy Power, compared to 1/2 for the 2014 edition and he hasn’t moved much from there since.
Peter Sagan – 10/11 favourite
It’s easy to see why Sagan is the bookies favourite given the parcours, especially now with him coming in to form in Switzerland and winning the Slovakian title again. The key to the points Jersey is consistency throughout the race and there are few more consistent than him. Sagan will be picking up points all over the place like last year, when most of the other sprinters will have been dropped or will already have gone home. Not only has he the ability to place in the top 10 on most sprint type stages, but he’ll also be involved in the finish of a lot of the punchy, hilly finishes and can pick up points at many intermediate sprints along the road also.
For the last two years he has been one of the banker bets for me at the Tour, but what about this year? Before the Tour of California I'd have said 10/11 was too short given what we'd seen so far this season, he seemed to be missing a little something and was under a lot of pressure from Oleg.
Then he went to California and had a field day over there, his results reading 2,2,21,1,3,1,6,3, on his way to winning the overall GC. He's a confidence rider and is riding with a big smile on his face.
The opening week should be good to him, with stage 4, 5, 6 and 8 as possible podiums or more for him. Stages 11 and 13 in the second week and possibly 14 to Mende and stage 15 to Valence could suit with a Cat 2 climb coming 60kms from the finish. Stage 16 to Gap with the Cat 2 Col de Manse just 12kms from the finish should be one for him too. Given all that it's going to take a lot to wrestle the jersey off his shoulders and he looks a pretty solid bet at 10/11, he could well half in price after just 4 or 5 stages. Negatives? With Contador going for the GC the team will be devoting most of their energies and efforts in to looking after him and he might be left isolated at the finishes. Also, he may be asked to look after Contador on some of the lumpy stages that he would have done well on, Tinkoff-Saxo will not want to lose time unnecessarily in the first week of the Tour.
Alexander Kristoff – 4/1 Best Price
This year has been a superb year for Alexander Kristoff. Winner of three stages in the Tour Of Qatar and the Points jersey, a stage in Oman, a stage and 2nd in the Points Jersey in Paris-Nice. He won the Tour of Flanders and the Scheldenprijs and has also taken another 6 victories in the Tour des Fjords, the Tour of Norway and the GP du Canton.
He is a superbly versatile rider and could also do very well in the same sort of stage that Sagan has earmarked. In fact, if it came down to a sprint between them on some of the stages I'd fancy Kristoff over Sagan.
He is sure to like stage 4 over the cobbles given his victory in Flanders and 10th place in Paris-Roubaix this year and should beat Sagan in some of the faster sprints. 2nd in the Points competition last year, but a full 149pts behind Sagan, 5th in 2013, I think he will come close to the top 3 again this year so could be worth a bet at 4/1 to at least get your stake back.
Mark Cavendish – 6/1 Best Price
6/1 for one of the best sprinters in the world? Seems big eh? He crashed out last year in the very first stage thanks to his suicidal sprint in Harrogate, 2nd in 2013 behind Sagan, 4th behind him in 2012 and winner of the Jersey in 2011. 2nd behind Pettachi in 2010, 2nd behind Hushovd in 2009 - he seems to find someone too good for him nearly every year!
He has been on fire this year though with 12 wins and another 5 podium spots. Winner of 4 stages and the Points Jersey in California and 3 stages and the Points Jersey in Turkey, he sure knows how to pick up Maillots Verts! The problem is that the course isn't really suited to him, but with Kittel out now he should be favourite to land most of the flat sprint stages. The first week is going to be hard for him but he has chances of wins on stages 2, 5 and 7. He might just get enough points on the flat stages to take him close to winning the jersey.
John Degenkolb - 14/1 Best Price
John Degenkolb was one of the men of the Classics season, winning Paris-Roubaix brilliantly with a real powerhouse display. With a result like that on his Palmares he is sure to like Stage 4 to Amiens with its cobbled sections. Degenkolb is also a master of the tough-mans sprint and with Kittel out he is now probably the main man for the sprints for Giant-Alpecin.
However, on stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse he was looking to me like a possible winner of the stage with Matthews and Sagan the only other real sprinters in the front group. He was totally isolated though and seemed to find it hard to move up to a position to challenge, floating around in about 6th place. As a result, when the sprint started with 200m to go, he was too far back and never got involved, and was being distanced by the finish, even by Van Avermaet.
He is sure to be far fitter come July though and will have a good lead-out with him when it's needed, but it's hard to make a case for him winning it because of the above, and it'll be a struggle for him to finish in the first three also I think given the opposition here.
Nacer Bouhanni - 20/1 Best Price
Not a very likeable chap, but that didn’t stop me from backing him twice in the Dauphiné where he landed two stage wins at 7/2 and 2/1. And he took them pretty comfortably too despite quite chaotic finishes.
He will be involved in the mass sprints, he should be good enough for top 6 in most, as long as he doesn’t go smashing in to someone in the final kilometres.. His team are one of the best in the business, with Geoffrey Soupe, Senechal and Vanbilsen possibly to guide him through the mayhem with calm heads.
I think he has a chance to be a sniper here in this race, picking up points on many different stages. Maybe not always a win, but he should be up there scoring points on a lot of stages and is the kind of guy who will nick intermediate points here and there too. With one of the best lead-out trains in the race, Bouhanni could be the value bet at 20/1 to get in the mix.
He got quite a scare on Sunday in the French nationals when he hit the deck in the sprint and tweeted a picture of himself afterwards with lots of bandages on saying he was doubtful for the Tour. He tweeted Monday though that there was nothing broken, just some contusions and he was going to start, and was later announced in the team. It did see his price jump out to 999/1 on Betfair, Sunday night though, that layer will be sweating for the next three weeks..
André Greipel - 33/1 Best Price
On his day, Greipel is probably one of the best out-and-out sprinters in the race, and comes here with a pretty decent sprint train to help him out too. Greipel has always been a very strong-willed and focused rider and you would think he should be right up there in all the flat sprints. It can take him 4 or 5 stages though sometimes to get firing, if that’s the case this year he could be well out of it very quickly as there are several sprint chances in the first week.
He has six wins to his name this season, winning a race in every month this year since February, but it wouldn't be his best season by any means and I think he might be out-gunned on too many stages by various others. I think there are just too many doubts about him to justify picking him, although if he is on form and gets his bottle back he could well win a few stages.
Michael Matthews - 28/1 Best Price
‘Bling’ Matthews has had a pretty good season so far this year, with a stage win and the Pink Jersey in the Giro and 3rd place in Milan San Remo and Amstel Gold. He has also taken a number of other top 6 placings, including wins in Paris Nice, Pais Vasco and just last week with a superb victory in Tour de Suisse. Like Sagan, he’s not an out-an-out flat sprinter in the mould of Kittel and Cav, rather he likes a tough hilly day with an uphill finish where he can produce a race-winning sprint. His OGE team are very strong and perfect for those kind of days when the regular sprinters can be under a lot of pressure just to stay in the bunch. He should score well, may even take a stage win, but I don't know if he'll make the top 3 to pay on the each-way, especially as OGE have said that him and Gerrans will both be going for stages, so the Jersey doesn’t look like it will be a focus for them.
Sam Bennett could score a lot of points in this TDF, I think he could be a revelation in this Tour but the problem is his climbing isn’t the best so he may not be around when Sagan is picking up points on some of the harder stages. I have my eye on him for a few possible stage podiums, and he could actually do ok on some of the lumpier stages, he can make it to a sprint that a lot of the pure sprinters like Cav and Greipel won't. At 125/1 he could be worth a small interest, but the big problem with this bet is that he is unlikely to make it to Paris, it’s possible he’ll abandon before the finish.
Bryan Coquard will be fighting for all his might to make an impression in this Tour as it looks like his Europcar team will fold at the end of the season – he will be looking to impress to try to pick up a new team. He isn’t going well enough for me this year though to be contesting for this and he will be bullied out of the places in the hectic sprints of the first week.
Peter Sagan looks rock solid for this again this year and could well be very short odds-on after the first week and I recommend backing him at 10/11 to win. Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff might run him close though for an each-way bet and if Nacer Bouhanni rides and isn’t too badly damaged he could go close too at a big price, he’s worth a small bet each-way.
Full previews and Tour de France betting guides will follow in the coming weeks. Check back for our predictions on the outright winner, Green Jersey winner, King of the Mountains winner and more from the experts at cyclingbetting.co.uk.