Tour de France: Lucien Van Impe criticises polka dot mountains jersey classification
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tour de France: Lucien Van Impe criticises polka dot mountains jersey classification

by Ben Atkins at 8:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Six time polka-dot jersey winner decries the lack of overall contenders in classification

Anthony CharteauGoing into the final mountain stage, the competition for the polka-dot mountains jersey is wide open. Current jersey holder Anthony Charteau (Bbox-Bouyges Telecom) leads Christophe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne) by just 15 points; and with a possible 73 points on offer, there are any number of other riders who could potentially take the competition.

None of this pleases six-time polka-dot jersey winner Lucien Van Impe though, who decries the lack of any of the yellow jersey contenders in the mix.

“What does the leader Charteau do?” he said to Sporza. “Get himself in the early escape, gather as many points as possible and give up in the finale. It’s dead easy to do.”

Van Impe won the mountains classification in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981 and 1983; this was achieved as a consequence of him battling for overall honours in the race though he says. He did manage to win the Tour once, in 1976, and is currently the last Belgian to do so; ironically he didn’t take the polka-dot jersey that year, which went to Italian Giancarlo Bellini.

Charteau is currently 43rd overall, an hour and 12 minutes behind race leader Alberto Contador (Astana). The competition now goes to riders who have no hope of doing well in the race for yellow and are allowed to escape and take points in breakaways.

“Virenque and Jalabert are the ones who started this,” he claimed, “but with this difference: they could really climb, and they could win sprints on hors category climbs or even win the stage.”

In future Van Impe would like to see more incentives for the overall contenders to race for mountains points. “Perhaps time bonuses could be awarded on Cols,” he suggested, “or double points on the final climb. Otherwise it means the death of the polka-dot jersey.”

Actually, the Tour already does award double points on the final climb of the stage and has done for some years, but time bonuses would heat up the overall battle.

This is not the first time that Van Impe has spoken up about what he perceives as the devaluing of the Tour’s mountain jersey. In 2004, when Richard Virenque finally eclipsed Van Impe’s outright record with a seventh jersey, the Belgian complained that the Frenchman was chasing mountain points and ignoring the overall classification.

While this may have been true of Virenque’s 2003 and 2004 jerseys (where he finished the race 16th overall both times), the Frenchman was 5th when he took his first victory in 1994 and was 3rd in 1996 and 2nd in 1997.

Jalabert, who won the polka-dot jersey in 2001 and 2002, became one of the few riders to have won both the points and mountains competitions. The veteran Frenchman deliberately lost a lot of time to the race favourites so that he would be allowed to go on long breakaways in the mountains.

In recent years a number of overall contenders have taken the polka-dot jersey home with them. When Dane Michael Rasmussen took the first of his two jerseys in 2005, he finished 7th. Bernhard Kohl wore the jersey on the podium in Paris in 2008 and finished the race in 3rd place. He was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for CERA, the 3rd generation EPO, and the retrospective jersey winner was Carlos Sastre, the overall race winner.


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