Tour de France: Mark Cavendish says green jersey competition suited to pure sprinters this year

Gone are the days of intermediate sprints at the other side of mountains for Peter Sagan to mop up maximum points

Mark Cavendish in the green jersey after stage six of the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish has said that the Tour de France points jersey is far more tailor-made for the pure sprinters in the last couple of years.

The 'Manx Missile' currently has a lead of over 40 points in the points classification over Belgian rider Jasper Philipsen, but he is holding back on admitting going for the jersey.

In an interview for Eurosport's Bradley Wiggins Show, the 32-time stage winner at the Tour spoke to his old team-mate and friend, Wiggins about how he feels the race is going and a potential tilt at green for the second time in his career.

>>> Tour de France stage seven LIVE: Vierzon to Le Creusot

When Wiggins asked Cavendish what he thought about possibly going for green, he said: "Look, we used to target it all those years ago when it was three intermediate sprints with five, three and one points with fewer points at the finish, then they changed the system which meant I had the opportunity to target it that time."

Cavendish won the green jersey back in 2011, the year where he later became world champion. Wiggins, who Cavendish helped to the Tour's overall title a year later in 2012, says that he can see Cavendish win another four or five stages with the form he has.

"Since then, I’ve never really targeted it. If you don’t go for intermediates, you lose it. You can’t win it on the intermediates though, because once the breaks went the minor places are one point difference.

"But that’s where it’s different now to when I rode five years ago. They used to put the green jersey sprints after mountains. It was like 30 points for the win, so [Peter] Sagan would get over and dropped all the sprinters and that’s why he won all those green jerseys."

In 2020 the race organiser changed where they placed intermediate sprints as well as having big points at the finish for the winner on the flat days, with the winner taking 50 points.

Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) won the green jersey beating Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and preventing the Slovakian from setting a new record of eight green jersey wins.

"Now, since last year, it’s geared towards the sprinters as it’s earlier on in the stage with all the sprinters going for it so you have to contest." Said Cavendish.

"I don’t even know how far I’ll get through the Tour. I’ve aimed for Paris but my priority is going to be more survival rather than the jersey. I know I can sprint but it’s the climbs but I’ve got a good team around me."

Cavendish hasn't really had a chance to race in the mountains apart from the Tour of Turkey, where he won four times. He went to the Ruta del Sol but got sick and had to abandon.

"I want to get to Paris but I don’t know. I haven’t done a Grand Tour since 2018. The only race I did with mountains in I got sick so I really don’t know."

Cavendish made it into the breakaway on stage seven of the race today (July 2), which was the longest stage of the race and the longest in 21 years. This meant that he had a chance to take multiple points over his rivals before hitting the mountains.

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Tim Bonville-Ginn is one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter.

Bonville-Ginn started working in cycling journalism while still at school and university for a voluntary site based on Twitter before also doing slots for Eurosport's online web team and has been on location at the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, UCI World Championships and various track events. He then joined the Cycling Weekly team in late February of 2020.

When not writing stories for the site, Bonville-Ginn doesn't really switch off his cycling side as he watches every race that is televised as well as being a rider himself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager.

He rides a Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on his local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being his preferred terrain.