Jersey winners: 2012 Le Tour de France
With the Tour now only hours away, the excitement is reaching colossal levels from the depths of Europe, to the Great Southern land of Australia and all around the world.
Debate is not only strong on who will be wearing the yellow jersey heading into the Champs-Elysees.
Interest centres on who will be wearing the green sprinters jersey, the polka dot colours for the king of the mountains classification, and last but not least the white jersey; the rider who is best placed in the overall classification, who is under 26 years of age.
After reading, listening, watching and analysing many experts’ viewers on the respective jersey winners for this year’s 99th edition of the Tour de France, I thought why not give my opinion, and so here it is.
Overall classification: Cadel Evans (BMC Racing)
While the 35 year old Australian has not enjoyed the near perfect build up of British favourite Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France is a different kettle of fish compared to the races that Wiggins dominated in the lead up to the Tour, such as the Tour of Romandie, Paris – Nice, as well as the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
Many subscribe to the solid theory that Bradley Wiggins has peaked to early for this year’s race – count me in on that, as it seems to me that Wiggins could arrive to the Tour just a touch weary; after cutting a swath through his opponents in almost every race he has contested this year, to date.
If that theory is correct, then trouble could be upon the 32 year old, with this year’s tour spanning a huge 3497 kilometres over 20 stages and an opening 6.4 km prologue.
Evans, on the other hand, has enjoyed a quiet preparation and is peaking at the perfect time for the Tour. According to seasoned Cycling veteran Stuart O’Grady, Cadel’s superior bike handling skills could prove crucial in his defence of his 2011 crown.
O’Grady remarked: “Cadel can handle himself well, he’s very good on the bike with the skills, which is probably not Wiggins’ strongest area.”
Evans may also be too experienced for Wiggins. Wiggins has never been close to achieving an overall Tour de France victory; and if the Tour goes down to the wire then surely Cadel will hold a crucial advantage over the former, two time individual pursuit, Olympic gold medallist.
Green jersey: Matt Goss (Orica Green Edge)
The Tasmanian rider has enjoyed a great lead in to this year’s Tour and is looking the goods for the coveted, Green Sprinters jersey.
With British speedster, Mark, ‘Manx Missile’ Cavendish, losing weight to focus on glory at London’s Olympic road race in just 28 days time, which features a tough nine hill climbs, it seems that Goss won’t have to negate Cavendish in his quest to win the green jersey.
Goss is supported by fantastic team members who form part of the new Australian team, Orica Greenedge. A big plus for the 25 year old is that his team’s primary focus will be on him collecting the green jersey, unlike Team Sky which will be putting it’s energy into overall contender Bradley Wiggins, not sprinting star Mark Cavendish.
If the Australian can repeat past performances such as his second place in last year’s World Championship road race, and a stage win at this year’s Giro d’Italia then he is a great chance to collect the green jersey.
King of the mountains: Pierre Rolland (Europcar)
Who could forget Rolland’s incredible victory at Alpe D’Huez on stage 19 in last year’s race? In what was a remarkable stage, the Frenchman beat former champion and convicted dug cheat, Alberto Contador of Spain, as well as 2010 Tour de France champion, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg to the line in the midst of the famous Pyrenees Alps.
The Europcar team member is only 25 years old, and after winning last year’s white jersey, or the malliot jaune, is most likely to target the polka dot jersey for this year’s race.
Whilst many favour last year’s king of the mountains winner, Samuel Sanchez, the Euskaltel Euskadi rider is likely to target a podium finish at this year’s Tour; which will force him to hold himself back in the later stages of the Pyrenees before stage 20’s crucial, race defining, time trial.
This could play well into Rolland’s hands, which may well see him collect the Polka dot jersey for the first time.
White jersey: Rain Taarmae (Confidis)
Rain Taarmae is a strong chance for the young riders classification at this year’s Tour. The Estonian rider holds a great advantage over his rivals for the white jersey with this being his 5th grand tour; which is a great effort by the 25 year old.
When it comes to the often unpredictable white jersey, experience can make a hell of difference and compared to other white jersey contenders he has been there, done that.
2011 was a hugely successful year for the Estonian where he came second in the young rider’s classification at the Tour de France, 4th overall in the weeklong Paris – Nice, as well as a stage win at the Vuelta a Espana.
If Taarmae can improve slightly on last year’s performance, then the white jersey will be his at the Champs – Elysees.
What is your opinion on the jersey winners? Discuss here.
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