Can anyone stop Froome?
Sky Bet make Chris Froome odds-on to win the Tour de France for the second year running, but there’s a strong case building up for 6/4 second favourite Alberto Contador.
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While Froome is quite rightly the favourite due to his consistency and the strength of his team-mates, Contador will be difficult to resist for punters interested in maximising the value.
The Spaniard has been in near-perfect form all season, looking particularly strong in the Criterium de Dauphine, despite riding without his strongest team-mates.
Contador matched Froome in stage two of the mountainous event, before pulling clear of the 2013 Tour de France winner with ease on the final stage, eventually finishing second.
The 31-year-old should have team-mates Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche and Mick Rogers working alongside him on the Tour, so he looks the better value bet on the back of current form.
As for the podium, Nibali’s form has been poor this season so an each-way bet at 10/1 is probably best avoided, with better value to be had on Criterium de Dauphine winner Andrew Talansky at 33/1.
Sky Bet will pay a quarter of the odds for the top three places, so a £10 each-way stake on the American would return over £80 if he manages second or third, and £432.50 should he cause a major upset by winning the race.
Other candidates for the podium include Jurgen van den Broeck (66/1 in the race winner market), who impressed with a third-place finish at the Dauphine, while Chris Horner could be a shrewd backing at a huge price (125/1).
Granted, Horner has had injury concerns and will probably be riding for his Lampre-Merida team-mate and world champion Rui Costa (40/1), but should the Portuguese rider struggle, the American will take over leadership duties for the general classification.
Elsewhere, it’s difficult to see past Peter Sagan for the green jersey, as he’s likely to score well from a combination of high stage placings and sprint points. He’s the 1/2 favourite, with Mark Cavendish (9/2) and Marcel Kittel (11/2) his only real threats.
Kittel is the 2/1 favourite to win stage one into Harrogate, but the thousands expected in attendance could make the difference in the Briton’s favour, and he’ll be desperate to take his own personal glory away from the event. On that basis, Cavendish may be the more logical pick for stage one at 3/1.
Posted at 1520 BST on 02/07/2014.