Bradley Wiggins could climb to the top of the IG Markets Pro Cycling Index if things go to plan at the Tour de France.
With Mark Cavendish, third on the Index, playing down expectations for his Tour performance as he prepares for the Olympic road race, fifth-placed Wiggins could leapfrog his Sky teammate.
Alterations to Cav’s preparations have seen him drop 4kg, and with his principal goal now to assist Wiggins and snatch stages where possible, it is unlikely he will defend his massive haul of Index points from last year’s Tour, when he won five stages and the green jersey.
The rider immediately ahead of Wiggins on the Index, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), also faces a tough task to defend points won from last year’s race. Evans won the most points last year by winning the race. To move up the Index, the Australian must win the race in more emphatic style than last year.
Slovak sensation, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), is also poised to climb the Index. Sagan has nine stage wins from this two most recent outings at the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse.
The top two riders on the Index, the leader, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and second placed, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) are both taking a sabbatical from the Tour.
Rodriguez, the winner of La Fleche Walloone, and runner up in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Giro d’Italia, is resting after his efforts in the corsa rosa. He’s due to return to competitive action at his home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana, in August.
In what will be a serious concern to Cavendish, newly-crowned Belgian road race champion Boonen will miss the Tour to rest ahead of the Olympic road race. With victories in some of cycling’s most prestigious races this year, Boonen’s focus on the Olympics is not to be taken lightly.
Neither Rodriguez or Boonen will drop points on the rolling Index of the world’s top 200 riders by missing the Tour. Rodriguez did not contest Le Tour last year, and Boonen abandoned early, leaving him with just 25 points from the race.
Grand Tours are unpredictable events, as anyone who witnessed the valiant ride of Thomas Vockeler (Europcar) last year will attest. The Frenchman spent 10 days in the maillot joune and rocketed up the Index as result.
This year, Matt Goss (Orcia-GreenEDGE), 57th on the Index, and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) newly empowered as their team’s protected sprinter, will be placed to make gains. Last year, both were employed as lead out men for Cavendish.
Two updates will be made to the Index during the Tour, one on each of the rest days on Tuesday July 10 and Tuesday July 17.
On Monday July 23, the post-Tour Index will go live. The newly crowned Tour de France winner could become the number one rider in the world.
About the IG Pro Cycling Index
The IG Pro Cycling Index is a rolling, 12-month ranking system, produced in collaboration with Opta, experts in sports data. Its purpose is simple: to answer the question, “Who is the best cyclist in the world?” Results are sourced from 120 major international races; a competitive programme selected by a panel of experts and chosen for their prestige, and importance to those who follow and love the sport. The races are placed in four tiers within three different categories.
A number of features make the IG Pro Cycling Index unique. The classification of races into tiers is based on their history, importance, and the quality of the field, and not simply the class allocated by the UCI governing body. Consequently, victory in the Tour of Beijing will not achieve the same points tally as victory in Paris-Nice or the Dauphine. Victories attract greater rewards than placings. Multiple victories in significant stage races, multiple Classics victories, and victories on the most prestigious stages of the Grand Tours attract bonus points.