Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) tops the IG Markets Pro Cycling Index after finishing as runner up in last week’s Giro d’Italia.
The Index has rewarded the Spaniard’s impressive consistency and the best Grand Tour finish of his career, after he improved his fourth-placed finish in last year’s Giro.
Rodriguez netted 1,449 points from his two stage wins and a podium finish in this year’s corsa rosa, and now heads the IG Pro Cycling Index by 700 points from Classics strongman, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep).
The Spaniard has built his lead on consistently fine performances. His spring campaign gained him two victories at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, and a Classics triumph in the Ardennes at La Fleche Wallonne.
These early season triumphs built on a solid points foundation earned from overall victory in the 2011 Vuelta de Burgos and two stage wins in last year’s Vuelta a España. Rodriguez has won at least five races each year since 2010.
Ryder Hesjedal’s (Garmin-Barracuda) overall victory in the Giro has moved the Canadian to 18th place on the Index, making him the highest ranked rider from the Americas. Failure last year to match his success of 2010, when he finished sixth in the Tour de France and was runner up in the Amstel Gold Race, leaves Hesjedal outside the top 10. Strong performances in the Canadian’s two home races, the GP de Montreal and Quebec, classed as Tier Two on the Index, could move him still higher should he decide to contest them.
An extraordinary final two days propelled Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) to the third step of the Giro’s final podium and from 103rd on the Index to 41st. The Belgian’s aggressive style has won him many admirers. Twice a winner from breakaways in consecutive editions of Paris-Nice, sixth on l’Alpe d’Huez in last year’s Tour de France and fourth in the following day’s time trial, De Gendt, still only 25, could become a serious contender for overall victory in the Grand Tours.
Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) chalked up the most stage wins in the Giro, and could have won more than three were it not for the misfortune of crashes. The world champion confounded many by finishing his first Giro since 2008. Second place in the points classification (a single point behind Rodriguez) aided a move to fourth on the Index, one place above Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins.
Three countries account for the top five places on the Index: Belgium, Great Britain, and Spain.
Young riders placed highly in this year’s Giro, with two youthful top 10 finishers riding in the colours of Team Sky. The success of the British team’s Columbian duo of Rigoberto Uran (seventh overall and winner of the white jersey for best young rider) and 24-year-old Sergio Henao (ninth in his first Grand Tour) is reflected in the Index, with Uran climbing to 37th, and Henao cracking the top 200.
Other races last week
The Giro wasn’t the only big race in Europe last week. The world’s best cyclists were in action at Bayern-Rundfahrt and the Tour of Belgium, stage races classed as Tier Three by the Index and therefore carrying 60 per cent of the points offered by the next round of Tier One races: the Criterium du Daphine and the Tour of Switzerland.
Mick Rogers’ emphatic victory at Bayern-Rundfahrt (two stage wins, from a sprint and time trial respectively) brought further success to Team Sky and moved Rogers from 120th to 51st on the Index. Runner up, Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun), climbed 40 places on the Index to 62nd.
World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega-Pharma-QuickStep) capped a courageous return from injury by winning the Tour of Belgium after a convincing, 46-second victory in the penultimate day’s time trial. His victory moves him to 11th on the Index.
Racing this week
A packed week of racing began yesterday with victory for Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) in the US national road race championships, dethroning Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek). The Skoda Tour de Luxembourg, won last year by Linus Gerdemann (Radioshack-Nissan-Trek), and ranked Tier Three on the Index, starts tomorrow, with the German scheduled to defend his title. And on Sunday (June 3), the Tier One Criterium du Dauphine starts with a 5.7km prologue time trial in Grenoble. The race was won last year by Britain’s Bradley Wiggins.
The IG Pro Cycling Index
The IG Pro Cycling Index exists to answer the question of cycling fans the world over: “Who is the best cyclist in the world?” IG has teamed up with sports data experts Opta to create a rolling, 12-month ranking system, based on a brand new formula to create rankings from the results of 120 major international road races across the season. A panel of experts considers the prestige of a race and its significance to cycling fans before classifying it in one of four tiers in three different categories.
Unique features include adding greater weight and more points to wins over placings. Bonus points are awarded for victories on the most prestigious stages of Grand Tours, for multiple wins in stage races, and multiple Classics victories. An emphasis on the historical importance of a race, its significance to the calendar, and the calibre of the field decide the tier into which a race is classified: victory in established races like Paris-Nice or the Criterium du Dauphine attract more points than new events like the Tour of Beijing.