Here’s a special contribution from Jeremy over at Tears for Gears. Shortly after the Tour concluded last month, he contacted me with a question about the possible effects of Alessandro Petacchi’s disqualification from this year’s Tour following allegations of PFC use. A short conversation ensued via email, and before I knew it, Jeremy had graciously offered to do some research and share his findings with all of us here. If we’re lucky, we’ll convince to share more with us in the future.
If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, thanks to the last few years of scandals, it’s that the Tour de France isn’t over until the WADA statute of limitations is up. That’s 8 years, people!
With the way things are moving, I have a feeling we won’t be waiting that long for some sort of verdict on the Petacchi case. The details are still murky, but with reports coming in that banned substances were found at his house and his lawyer telling him to keep quiet, there’s going to be an investigation in to the recent winner of the points jersey.
Assuming Petacchi is found guilty of some sort of doping violation, and that any sort of ban handed down nullifies his wins following the discovery of his stash (April), we’ll have a shuffling in the points competition. Second place Mark Cavendish would be declared the winner of the green jersey, right?
Not so fast! Let’s look at the numbers and see where they lead us.
There were 8 stages where eliminating Petacchi causes a shuffling of points that affect our final outcome – Stages 1, 4, 6, 10, 11, 13, 18 and 20.
For those with short-term memory issues, Stage 1 was blemished by serious crashes in the last few kilometers, including Cavendish entirely missing the last turn and hitting the deck. That stage was also where Petacchi notched his first win in a smaller than normal field sprint, earning him 35 points. Coming-in second was Cavendish lead-out man Mark Renshaw (30 points), with Thor Hushovd coming in third for 26 points. Cav finished out of the points. Eliminate Petacchi, reallocate the points, and Hushovd picks-up four points for finishing in second.
Perusing the official results yields some interesting changes in the points competition following Stage 3. Hushovd came in to Stage 3 with 26 points, and left with 63 following his stage win. The math doesn’t quite add up, eh? Remember though, Stage 2 was neutralized, and while it was initially reported that no one would receive sprint points (except for stage winner Sylvain Chavanel), that wasn’t quite what happened—anyone who finished in the peloton received two points, with the stragglers coming in later receiving none. Hushovd, who was pretty vocal about how ridiculous he found the neutralization, came in with the pack and received 2 points. Cavendish and Petacchi limped in about 10 and 13 minutes down, respectively—and received nothing.
It’s unclear when this decision was made—the official points standings following Stage 2 don’t show these points. Chavanel was the green jersey leader going in to Stage 3, with Petacchi seemingly in second—earning him the right to spend the day in the green jersey. If points had been properly distributed before the stage, that would have put Jurgen Roelandts in second place with 36 points to Petacchi’s 35. Oops!
Stage 4 was another brilliant win for Petacchi, who again grabbed maximum points in the bunch sprint. Hushovd finished in 9th (17 points), and Cavendish finished in 12th for 14 points. Remove Petacchi, and the both of them pick up a point.
Stage 5 saw Thor and Cav both finish ahead of Petacchi–with Cavendish taking his first win of the Tour–so no points impact here.
Cavendish began to hit his stride on Stage 6, just as the race entered the Alps, taking first, with Petacchi coming in 3rd. Thor comes in 10th, so in the event of a Petacchi DQ, he’d pick up another point.
Stages 7, 8 and 9 entered the Alps, and put the sprinters in to survival mode. Only Hushovd scored any points, picking up six in the first intermediate sprint of Stage 9.
Stage 10 saw Hushovd and Petacchi take intermediate points early in the stage. Petacchi got the best of Hushovd, earning six intermediate points, with Hushovd getting four. That’s another two points headed Hushovd’s way.
In the final, Cav won the bunch sprint, finishing in 9th. Petacchi came in 10th, and Hushovd in 11th—yet another point for Hushovd.
Cav really came alive in Stage 11, taking his third stage victory. Petacchi came in 2nd, and Hushovd in 7th. Yet again, in the event of a disqualification, Hushovd stands to gain a point.
This was the pattern for Stages 18 and 20 as well: Cavendish wins, Petacchi comes in 2nd or 3rd, and Hushovd trails somewhere behind. Hushovd would gain an additional three points from these stages in the event of a disqualification.
So where does that all leave us? Should Petacchi be disqualified—and everything he’s done since April (including his pretty brilliant performance at the Tour de France ) nullified—Cavendish would gain one point in the green jersey standings, while Hushovd gains 13. The recalculated final green jersey classification (to be certified in 8 years): Hushovd 235, Cavendish 233.
It’s been said time and time again that the green jersey is about consistency, not sprinting. This becomes glaringly apparent when you consider at what happens without Petacchi in this year’s race. Hushovd was remarkably consistent—consistently mediocre at sprinting, some might say—but he scored points where they were available to him. He was brilliant in a brutal Stage 3, picked-up intermediate points in multiple mountain stages, and consistently finished in positions that garnered points.
Now we just need to sit back and see what happens to Petacchi.
That it’s for today—thanks to Jeremy from Tears for Gears for the terrific column. As always, share your comments below!
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