Tour de France favourite Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is all smiles prior to a team training ride.
view thumbnail gallery
World's biggest race set to shake up the standings
If you look at the start list for the Tour de France and top 10 of the Pro Cycling Index, the most striking fact is that the top two riders in the Index are not at the start line. Joaquim Rodriguez is not riding the Tour de France due to tiredness. The Spaniard has ridden the last two grand tours and decided that after coming second in the Giro d’Italia he would skip the Tour de France and the next goal he will focus on is the Vuelta a España.
Tom Boonen is not riding the Tour de France this year as he focusing on the Olympic road race. While other riders going for gold in London are riding the Tour, Boonen says he is not able to combine both as he always needs recovery time after it. Yet both of the top two riders in the Index do not face the problem of losing points from last year - Rodriguez did not take part and Boonen pulled out early on and only earned 25 points.
As a result the riders below them have the potential to replace them at the top. The next two riders in the standings are Mark Cavendish and Cadel Evans, but both may struggle to move up. Third-placed Cavendish won five stages and the green jersey at the Tour last year. His exploits won him 1,387 points, the second highest total of any rider in the race. In the press this week Cavendish has lowered expectations for this year. He has said that he will win stages, but probably not as many as five because his sprint has suffered due to his weight loss ahead of the Olympic road race. Taking this into account, he will probably struggle to defend his points total from 2011 and not make up ground on those above him in the Index.
Last year’s Tour winner Cadel Evans is in fourth place in the Index. Unsurprisingly, as winner of the race, Evans was the biggest points scorer from last year with 2,118 in total. The best he can hope for is to win the race again this year but in more empathic fashion by winning more stages. That way he could beat his points total from 2011 and close the gap or move into the top three.
Therefore the riders who have a best shot on moving up in the Index are most likely the next two in the Index: Bradley Wiggins and Peter Sagan. Wiggins is coming into the race as the favourite with the bookmakers after a stellar year so far. He looked strong going into the 2011 Tour de France but then crashed out early on. This means that he only has 25 points to defend from last year. If, like many predict, he challenges for the race overall, then he is likely to move up the Index.
The same can be said of Sagan, who will be making his debut at the Tour de France this year. In his most two recent races - the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of California – he won nine stages in total. If he can replicate some of those performances at the Tour de France then he is likely to continue his rise up the rankings.
It is all very well predicting what is going to happen, but if recent grand tours are anything to go by there will likely to plenty of surprise performances. Last year in the Tour de France it was Thomas Voeckler, who spent a long time in yellow and shot up the Index. This year riders who could do the same are Matt Goss (57th) and Mark Renshaw (103rd). Both will be riding the Tour for the first time as sprint leaders for their teams rather than leading out Mark Cavendish.
The Index will be updated twice during the race on both rest days; Tuesday 10 and 17th July. Then the post-race Index will go live on Monday 23 July, when the newly crowned Tour de France winner could become the number one rider in the world.
About the IG Markets Index
The IG Pro Cycling Index is a 12 month rolling ranking system designed to answer the question “Who is the best cyclist in the world?” We teamed up with sports data experts Opta to create a comprehensive cycling ranking system that was based on an entirely new formula. We source results from the 120 top international road races throughout the season. Races are ranked by our expert panel, based on their prestige and their importance to cycling fans and put into four tiers in three different categories.
The IG Pro Cycling Index has a number of features that make it unique: Races are tiered depending on history, importance and calibre of field rather than UCI Class. So winning the Tour of Beijing will not give you the same points as winning Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné. Wins carry much greater weight and are rewarded more than placings. Bonus points are awarded for multiple victories in the top races, winning the most prestigious stages at the Grand Tours or winning multiple classics.