Smart Sprinting

Aren’t the sprints exciting this year?
You just never know which rider is going to win.
Cavendish has some serious competition this time around.
He only won two sprints until now, the other sprint stages
were won by Gerrans, Greipel, Sagan and not to forget Marcel Kittel,
who already won three stages and even wore the yellow jersey.
Still, it’s not the pretty boy from Germany who wears the green jersey.
You don’t have to win many sprint stages to wear it.
In fact, in the year 1988 a Belgium rider won
the green jersey without even winning one stage.
Jean-Paul van Poppel, the Dutch top sprinter at that time,
won four sprint stages in that Tour de France,
including the one with the finish on the Champs-Élysées.
Then what was the reason that instead of Jean-Paul van Poppel,
Eddy Planckaert took the green jersey home with him?
Van Poppel, also called ‘Popeye’ because of his impressive muscles,
won the green jersey in 1987 and hoped to repeat this the year after.
Still, you need more than just four victories to take the green jersey home.
You need to sprint at the right place and the right time.
You need to be smart and also collect points before the finish.
The Belgian sprinter Eddy Planckaert knew this very well.
He knew that the intermediate sprints were also very important
and gained a lot of points in these sprints during the various stages.
After many years of trying he finally won the green jersey in 1988.
This was also the only time he actually finished the Tour de France.
Beforehand, he had never been able to accomplish this,
mostly because of the hard stages in the mountains.
Eddy Planckaert never gave up and kept on sprinting for green,
which not only led to winning that famous green jersey in the Tour,
but also to seeing the streets of Paris for the first and only time.

Eddy Planckaert / © Graham Watson

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