Alongside Cavendish, Marcel Kittel the stand out favourite for the flat sprint stages – as he proved by winning two consecutive stages at the Giro d’Italia before illness forced his early departure.
The nature of his wins was enough to suggest the Giant-Shimano man was capable of challenging for the points jersey, though he insisted throughout his target was just the stage.
Whether he could maintain it over the Tour de France, however, against a much stronger sprinting field, remains to be seen. Four stage wins last time out was only enough for fourth place overall in the points classification. And the fact Giant-Shimano have prepared two sprint formations suggest they expect consistency to be a problem again on any stages with too many climbs in.
John Degenkolb is their other man for the sprints, so could he challenge for the points classification? He proved at Paris-Nice earlier in the year, during his valiant – but ultimately failed – attempt to defend the yellow jersey he can handle a few hills. Though not at the level of Sagan, if given the full backing of the team he could certainly be a challenger.
Such full backing, however, is unlikely to materialise given Kittel’s burning desire for stage wins.