TOUR DE FRANCE OUTRIGHT BETTING ODDS:
|Jakob Fuglsang||11/2||William Hill|
|Thibaut Pinot||16/1||Royal Panda|
|Romain Bardet||25/1||Royal Panda|
|Enric Mas Nicolau||25/1||MansionBet|
Though the Tour de France 2019 is as equally anticipated as any other edition has been, the loss of four-time champion, Chris Froome, has taken the shine off of the event for many.
The 34-year-old Team Ineos (previously Team Sky) rider would’ve had the chance at a record-equalling fifth win, however, a crash before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine saw him sustain a fractured right femur, fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
In his absence, the fun and games get underway in Brussels on July 6. His colleague, and winner of last year’s tour, Geraint Thomas, is the favourite to take the yellow jersey again this year, however, his preparation for the race hasn’t been the best.
Geraint Thomas was unable to complete the Tour de Suisse in June, and that followed having to abandon some of his training because of a persistent stomach complaint. He could’ve done without snow in Tenerife too, when he was just getting to grips with another training camp.
Winner of the Tour de Suisse and another of the favourites with the top betting sites, Egan Bernal has already suggested he will aim to help Thomas if there’s little chance of the Colombian being in the shake-up at the business end himself.
“I don’t choose to say I’m the favourite,” Bernal said after his Tour de Suisse victory. “In any case, I will go with G (Thomas), he will be our leader. I will try to help him. If he’s better than me, for sure I will help him. I don’t have any problem with that; I’m just 22 years old so I think that I have a lot of tours in front of me.”
Fifteenth overall in the 2018 tour, Bernal has a bit of work to do in order to ensure a successful race in France.
A Tour for the climbers
There’s little to no chance of a specialist in the time trials winning this edition of the Tour. Why?
There are only 27km worth of individual time trials in the entire race. Five summit finishes which include a tortuous 33km climb, and a route that takes in the Pyrenees, Massif Centrale, Vosges and Alps mountain ranges, ensure that only the best climbers have a genuine chance in 2019.
EF Education First rider, Tejay van Garderen, is ready to support his colleague, Rigoberto Uran’s assault on the top prize, and to that end, they’ve been based at altitude in Andorra.
Uran finished second to Froome in the 2017 tour and is in decent form at the right time. Moreover, with climbing his speciality, general odds as long as 33/1 with Ladbrokes, seem wide of the mark.
Australian Richie Porte is certainly one to watch, and at 14/1 with MansionBet, he’s fifth favourite for the crown. Often a domestique (a rider who works solely for the benefit of his team and leader) for Froome, he now has the chance to take the race by the scruff of the neck for his own benefit.
As if the riders didn’t have enough to contend with!
Stage six on Thursday, July 11, begins in Mulhouse and sees a first summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles, at the end of 157km of hard going. The route includes three peaks of over 1000m, and three more between 500m and 1000m.
With the opening five stages relatively tame by comparison, the Tour will really hot up here. More so when we consider that the organisers have thrown a new, extended gravel section into the mix too.
A number of the teams will be keen to attack the climbs to show their strength, and perhaps get a foothold in the race overall. Thanks to the gravel, however, we should prepare for some unpredictability before the following few, flatter, stages.
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Fear the Alps
Stage 18 is a leg-sapping 207km which includes climbs up the Col de Vars (2,109m), Col d’Izoard (2,360m) and Galibier (2,642m). The descent into Valloire at the finish will be manna from heaven, even from the seasoned riders.
Worse is to follow on Stage 20, which begins in Albertville and ends in Val Thorens. Only once, 25 years ago, was the 33.4km climb up to 2,365m used.
And with good reason.
Only the strongest will survive the punishment and others will be out on their feet by this point. Even the knowledge of it being the penultimate stage before the procession into the Champs-Élysées will be of little comfort.
Thomas to retain his crown?
At 5/2 with 888Sport, the odds on Geraint Thomas achieving a second successive Tour win don’t offer value for money. The 33-year-old does have all of the ingredients needed for victory, including a team behind him that will help every step of the way.
More than able to push hard through even the toughest stages, Thomas will still be aware that there are one or two competitors ready, and able, to take advantage of any slip-ups, however slight.
Jakob Fulglsang, the 34-year-old Dane, is in fine fettle after an incredible win in the Liège-Bastogne-Liége race and is worth taking a look at with at 11/2 with William Hill.
Bernal can’t be discounted of course. The youngster is saying and doing all of the right things, but make no mistake, the competitive fire burns bright. His recent Tour De Suisse win, coming at Thomas’ expense, has only fuelled his desire and reinforced his belief.
In good form, given half the chance at a maiden Tour de France victory he will take it. Current odds of 5/2 with BetHard certainly offer value too.