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.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm 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. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.