Points title goes down to wire

The Tour has got used to close battles for the green jersey, but this year five riders can still win

The Tour has got used to close battles for the green jersey, but this year five riders can still win
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Mathematically, any one of five riders could still win the green jersey in Paris, with a maximum 47 points still available on Sunday's final stage. Australia's Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) leads with 238 points, followed by Crdit Agricole's Thor Hushovd with 227. They are then followed by Erik Zabel (221), Stuart O'Grady (215) and Danilo Hondo (201). Should Hondo manage to get maximum points, he'd have to hope that McEwen scored no more than 10, and that's without considering what the other four riders that separate them can do. The day's stage winner will get 35 points, second 30, third 26, fourth 24, fifth 22, sixth 20, and then the places lose a point down to 25th place, who receives one point. Complicated? Not really, but then you do have to have your calculator out for the two intermediate sprints, which come at 86 kilometres and 115 kilometres of the 163km stage. Here there are points only for the first three: 6, 4 and 2 points, but expect a fierce battle between the contenders' teams to get their men in those top three positions. Last year, McEwen again went into the final stage with a slim, two-point advantage over fdjeux.com's Baden Cooke. With each of the Australians winning an intermediate sprint, it went down to the finish line, where Cooke pipped McEwen to second place - and the green jersey. But whereas Cooke fell by the wayside this year - in 16th place with 77 points after Saturday's Besanon time trial - McEwen will again fight it out for the green tunic. "I'll be coming into the final stage with a small advantage," said McEwen, winner of the green jersey in 2002. "There's pressure, but I'm used to it. "There's nothing like the Champs Elyses," he continued. "It's one of the most difficult finishes of the whole Tour, but I'll be trying to win the stage, wearing the green jersey."
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