I am not going to preview the race not doubt you will have read many previews in magazines and websites instead I will offer up some bets that are value for money for the Tour De France. Although I will point out two good articles and also recommend the most recent Cycle Sport Publication which previews the tour excellently:
A preview of the Tour by the excellent NY Velocity Website that does not role out all the standard cliches as others do.
Analysis of the major climbs of this year’s race.
So to my bets:
1) Thor Hushovd to win the Green Jersey 13/2 (Paddy Power) 2.5 points EW
Although recently starting work as an intern for Mark Cavendish’s management company I am betting against in the Tour. I hope to be proven wrong and when I met him he looked in great shape. Furthermore Cav has recently stated in the media that if he did not win the Green jersey it would be a failure, so far in his career Cav has rarely not achieved the goals he has set himself. So why I am not backing him? Firstly his odds are stupidly short at 6/5 especially when considering all the variables that go in winning a green jersey and Cav’s relatively poor form this season. He has had a lot of bad luck this season and this could easily continue in the Tour. But why Hushovd and not Farrar. Well although I think Farrar will get his first Tour win I can see him contesting the sprints in the stages that are hillier and undulating where as Hushovd can. Another thing in Hushovd favour is Stage 3, the cobbled stage, where he is undoubtedly the strongest of these 3 guys. He is in good form winning the Norwegian national champs last weekend and Cav has lost key men in his lead out train. At the price he is if you back him each way and he finishes 2nd or 3rd in the green jersey classification you still get your money back and then some so it is worthy gamble. N.B I put this bet on a couple of days ago and his odds have dropped to 5/1 although Will Hill is still offering up 6/1.
2) Roman Kreuziger to win the Tour De France 66/1 (Paddy Power) 2.5 points EW
There is no value in the winner market without backing a rider EW as Contador is very likely to win. Earlier in the season I would have said that Andy Schelck was a dead cert for 2nd spot. As the season has gone I have become less and less sure about this. Although recently he has been putting in some better I am not convinced. Therefore the other two spots in the top 3 are more open than before. I have gone for Kreuziger because at 66/1 he is the best priced of the many candidates that can make that step up to the podium. Most of them are all on fairly similar level and therefore it makes more gambling sense to back a person who is at a higher price. I see Kreuziger as the strongest rider in his team as I feel there is no way Basso can perform at a really high level after the effort he had to put in to win the Giro. His team is strong and he will have plenty of support in the mountains in the form of Basso and Szmyd. It is easy to forget that he came 9th last year and the route is more suited to him as the climbs are tough and will suit more explosive climbers which he is when compared to Armstrong and Wiggins, furthermore he can Time Trial well. There are some questions marks against like; how will he do on the cobbles and windy stages that will lead to splits? And has his climbing improved enough from last year to really stay with the Schelcks and Contador. He will have to overcome these to place in the top 3.
3) Luis Leon Sanchez to finish in the Top 10 £6/1 (Will Hill) £5
Here is a rider who has one a tour stage in each of the last two years but his abilities deserve more than that. He has the talents any good Grand Tour rider needs but will he challenge in the G.C this year. Some quotes before the Tour suggests not, but I think (and hope) he is bluffing. He is the stand out GC rider in his team and as they are Spanish I can see them wanting him to be at the front in the Pyrenees. 6/1 is a good price for this guy in the top ten.
Other than that I have struggled to find bets that offer really good value for money at this year’s tour at this point. I was tempted with a Sky to win 3 or more stage at 4/1(Sky Bet) or putting money on Wiggins or Van De Velde to finish on the podium but those bets would have been more about what I wanted to happen rather than what I think will happen. A better chance to win money will be live in play betting during stage (the prologue on Saturday look out for G Thomas Top 3) or ,as I found to my benefit at the Giro, betting during the race on the mountains classification. It should be fairly clear in the second week which rider is really targeting the mountains classification and then back him as early as possible on betfair. If you follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/Chris_Alfred then you will be able to read my choices during the race for these markets.
Overall I am very excited about this year’s tour. The route could be great especially if Contador gets in trouble in the first week where I expect RadioShack and Saxobank to really attack. Furthermore I am going to the race this year with work to see the end of Stage 1 in Brussels on Sunday. Look out for my blog at the end of the race summing it all up.