Tour de France: Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan set for green-jersey battle
Andy Charles looks at the contenders for the points classification
Last Updated: 28/06/13 4:38pm
The race for the green jersey is expected to be fiercely contested
While much of the Tour de France focus will be on the battle for the yellow jersey, there is also the prestigious green jersey to race for, with Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan leading the chase.
The jersey is normally won by a sprinter, with points up for grabs at both intermediate sprints and at the finish line.
One of the best crop of fast men in years will take to the start line in Corsica and the race for green is expected to be a compelling one.
Here, we look at the contenders...
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
Mark Cavendish has 23 Tour de France stage wins to his name
It is hard to find superlatives for one of the greatest sprinters of all time, especially after he claimed the red jersey at the Giro d'Italia, a triumph that completed his Grand Tour points classification treble. He won five stages in that race, taking his total to 15, but it is France that brings the best out of him and he goes into the race looking for his 24th stage success. Only three of those came in Team Sky colours last year, but there are a more chances this time around and a second green jersey is a possibility.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Peter Sagan breezed to the green jersey in 2012
Cavendish will most likely find his toughest competition coming from the Slovakian speedster, who is defending his title after winning three of the first six stages last year. Sagan doesn't have the raw speed of Cavendish, but if the finish is slightly uphill, he comes into his own. He is also able to climb better than Cavendish, which brings possibilities for victory in rolling and medium-mountain stages, of which there are several this year.
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
Andre Greipel is enjoying one of his strongest seasons
Undoubtedly Cavendish's most consistent rival in pure sprint finishes, his burst is a match for anyone. If Lotto-Belisol can get him into position regularly, he could go one better than his second place in 2012's green jersey competition, a year in which he won three stages. A consistent winner this season, the German will be a huge presence in the flatter stages.
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)
Marcel Kittel is one of the bright young stars of sprinting
If Kittel could find some consistency he would be a massive threat, but until now that is something that has not happened. In fact, he is yet to get past the second week in a Grand Tour. Kittel could well be the fastest rider in the peloton and may win his first Tour stage this year.
Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Matthew Goss is looking to put a tough season so far behind him
One of the peloton's nearly men, the Australian's best chances of green-jersey success may have already passed given that a younger generation of sprinters is now coming through. Goss has been through his share of troubles this year, mainly with untimely falls, but he took a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico and still has the speed to snatch victories.
John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano)
John Degenkolb has Grand Tour pedigree
The second but by no means lesser of the two Argos-Shimano sprinters, Degenkolb might not have the raw speed of his rivals, but he does have Grand Tour pedigree. The German won five stages of last year's Vuelta a Espana and went on to claim his first Giro d'Italia stage at this year's race. The German will now have his eyes on opening his Tour de France account and could have designs on the green jersey as well.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
Alexander Kristoff got the better of Peter Sagan at the Tour de Suisse
Always considered a member of the second rank, the Norwegian has really upped his game this year and his form over the last couple of months has been impressive. He took three victories at the Tour of Norway, in which he finished second overall, and beat Sagan in one of few bunch finishes in the Tour de Suisse. This will be his first Tour, but he could be a lively outsider for a stage win at the very least.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
Edvald Boasson Hagen has two Tour stage wins to his name
Another Norwegian who can finish with the best of them, Boasson Hagen will be looking to add to two previous stage wins in the Tour. You would expect him to be more prominent in the early stages of the race, most of which have flat finishes, or include climbs he will be able to get over, but then it will be time to revert back to Team Sky domestique duty and support the general classification riders over the mountains.
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ)
Nacer Bouhanni has the potential to spring an upset
The 2012 French champion polarises opinion in the cycling world. There are those who love his all-action, all-elbows style and there are those (mainly other sprinters) who would happily see him out of the way. Not as regular a winner as you would think given his talent, but a stage victory would not be a massive surprise.