Whilst many cycling betting fans are looking towards the Fight for Pink in the upcoming Giro D’Italia, it’s not the only prize that the riders will be fighting over as there are four different classifications through the coming three weeks that are up for grabs.
One of them is the points jersey, which rewards consistency in a different fashion to the battle for pink, won by the rider who earns the most points over three weeks. Riders pick up points at the intermediate sprints and at the finish line.
The allocation of points depends on the stage in question as the organisers give them certain categories with the typical sprint stages offering more points in a bid to keep the sprinters in the race until the very end, as some do leave early to prepare for the Tour de France later in the summer.
Stages 2,3,7,12,13,17 and 21 offer points for the first 15 riders at the finish: 50-35-25-18-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the intermediate sprints – set points earlier during the race where riders will compete to be first over a line - there are points for the first eight: 20-12-8-6-4-3-2-1
Stages 4,5,8,10,11 offer points for the first 10: 25-18-12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the intermediates, here are points for the first five: 10-6-3-2-1
Stages 1,6,9,14,15,16,18,19 and 20 offer points for the first 10: 15-12-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the intermediate the first three riders will receive points in this order: 8-4-1
Whilst the Giro at face value is equally split between the sprinters – there are seven potential sprint finishes and six summit finishes – the flatter stages are categorised as A+B, offering 50 points to those first across the line, and the latter are D, where 15 points are awarded to the winner. Given the quality at the top of the race for pink it is easy to see several mountain stags being shared between riders, and the tasking effort of even taking more than one tilts this in favour of the faster men.
Elia Viviani is already a short-priced 5/6 favourite at top betting sites, but since moving to Quick-Step the Italian has gone to the next level in terms of sprinting since his move and the strength of his outfit makes him a compelling choice here.
Quick-Step have won 27 different races already this year, including nearly every major classic, and five of those have come from Viviani, who started his season early and quickly found a groove with his lead-out team.
An early win at the Tour Down Under was a good sign followed by two wins and the overall in the Dubai Tour when he got the better of a field that included Dylan Gronewegen, Mark Cavendish, John Degenkolb, and Alexander Kristoff, and he showed that same speed when taking the Abu Dhabi Tour’s second stage, beating Danny Van Poppel.
Many of the sprint stage this year are spiced up by late ramps that encourage attacking but Viviani is no slouch himself to following moves and will be aggrieved that he did not win Gent-Wevelgem this year despite the fact he had much the best finishing sprint.
Quick-Step managed to take four stages with Fernando Gaviria last year using just Max Richeze as a leadout man but this year Viviani has the whole team around him and a unit of Eros Capecchi, Michael Mørkøv, and Fabio Sabatini, Rémi Cavagna (Dwars door West-Vlaanderen winner), Maximilian Schachmann, Florian Sénéchal and Zdenek Stybar ought to give him plenty of opportunities.
His biggest threat is Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett, who finished third in the points standings last year after finishing in the podium places on no less than four occasions. He’s struggled for form through illness this year but his form at the Volta Catalunya when he was second on the opening stage and then third from the bunch kick for the penultimate day is encouraging and he will enjoy the hills and late attacks.
Danny Van Poppel (Lotto-Jumbo) is talented enough to go close but he’s struggled a lot through the spring and was beaten 3-0 by Viviani in the Abu Dhabi Tour. Kristian Sbaragli of the Israel Cycling Academy will hope to shine in the opening weekend with stages in Tel Aviv and Eliat to target but he’s failed to cut much ice recently and will need to improve a great deal.
EF Education First’s Sacha Modolo, who’s 8/1 at Bet365 makes more appeal, with the more difficult finishes likely to suit, and could be each/way value.