Tour de France 2012: Loaded Field Looks To Snatch Maillot Vert From Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish hopes to storm away once again with the Maillot Vert at the 2012 Tour de France. The green jersey is given to the leader in the Tour's points competition each year, who often happens to be an elite sprinter. Under a revised points system, Cavendish blew out the competition last year to solidify himself as one of the fastest cyclists in the world in terms of pure speed.

This year, the field looks even stronger, however, with a number of young cyclists looking to knock Cavendish from his perch. Chris Fontecchio at the SB Nation blog Podium Cafe took a look at the field, and broke down what makes this group very special.

Pure sprinters: Borut Bozic, Tyler Farrar, Alessandro Petacchi, Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish

Versatile fastment: Oscar Freire, Peter Sagan, JJ Rojas Gil, Matt Goss, Leo Duque, Jimmy Casper, Jeremy Roy.

Glaring omission: Arnaud Demare! OK, he conked out in the Giro, and he's very, very young. So it's the smart move, dagnammit.

This is a positively stellar field. Kittel and Sagan are flying. Goss is locked and loaded, with some experience to his name. Greipel has his sights trained on Cav. Farrar is a bit more of a wild card this year after his Classics focus, but he has undoubtedly gotten back into sprint fitness. Former winners in Freire and Petacchi. And best of all, a great mix of pure fastmen and versatile finishers who can climb. Every year we say the Tour field is loaded, and most years attrition winnows it down some, or a lot. For now, this field is really, really loaded.

The rest of the post is a must-read, as Fontecchio gives his Top 10 sprinters in the field. Surprsingly, Cavendish checks in at No. 2 overall. Who is No. 1? Tour of California points winner Peter Sagan, who will be making his Tour de France debut at 22 years old. With so many promising riders, this year's battle for the green jersey could be one of the most exciting in some time.

Stay up to date with Tour de France news by visiting SB Nation's Podium Cafe.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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