If there is one theme to this year’s Tour de France route, it ought to be variety.
This route offers one of the most creative three weeks of racing for cycling betting fans to take advantage of, with just three summit finishes and seven days in the Alps and Pyrenees, two stages of climbing that add up to just 176.5km containing seven category 1 or HC climbs, and 15 sectors of pave on stage 9.
There are also two-time trials, one for the teams on stage 13 and a technical ending on stage 19, and the finish of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, taken twice on stage 6.
It is no surprise that Chris Froome is favourite once again to make it an incredible fourth Grand Tour in a row here – and five Tour jerseys overall, putting him in a rare category of winners – but the Briton must be taken on.
The extra days (eight of them to be exact) between the Giro and Tour this year have helped him in his bid to win both once again, but the history is against him. The last rider to complete the double was Pantani in 1990 and whilst others have made creditable efforts the closest bid has been Vincenzo Nibali.
A bigger issue is just how incredibly hard the Giro was this year. A top-class field and incredibly tough route with sevens summit finishes including three back to back stages to end the racing in the mountains left the field exhausted and Froome’s ride on the Finestre was one of the toughest rides seen in recent Grand Tour years.
The route for the Tour suits him a lot more – Sky can really put time into their rivals on Stage 3, and the amount of descent finishes, and short stages could help – but 6/4 at Paddy Power makes no appeal for bettors.
Richie Porte was still going strong when crashing out last year and he has recovered in good style, taking the Tour de Suisse when BMC dominated the TTT and Porte himself finished 14th on the final flat time trial stage.
This route suits him as much as any and he deserves respect for all his three-week record is a real issue (fifth in the 2016 Tour, but that his best result by distance since a 2011 Giro seventh) when it comes to supporting him.
Movistar have the most options in the race by far and it will be endlessly fascinating to watch the trio Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde tackle the opening week and cobbles before the mountains. All three are major players, but they have just four riders to protect three leaders for the opening few stages and they really would have appreciated more summit finishes.
This is a real all-rounder’s route and that could bring a lot of riders into play here so a couple at bigger prices make appeal.
In 2017, Primoz Roglic (25/1 with Black Type for this year) became the first Slovenian to win a Tour stage and later finished second to Tom Dumoulin in the world time trial championship in Norway. Another season on, and he’s established himself as one of the in-form stage races in the peloton, and now has a shot at going for the overall.
He took the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and looked a strong contender for the overall before a puncture on the first summit finish, but he had made amends in no uncertain terms, winning the Tour of the Basque Country and then the Tour de Romandie in conductive stage races.
On the first occasion he used his time trialling power but held off an extremely strong field in the mountains with a worst finish of ninth. At Romandie, he was second only to Egan Bernal in the mountain TT and beat the Colombian by eight seconds overall, with Porte 35 seconds back in third.
An excellent time trialist, his climbing has improved tenfold this season and his late breakaway win suggests that he can see out a three-week test strongly. The overall balance of a side that also contains Steven Kruijswijk, as well as Dylan Groenewegen, could help protect him through the first 12 stages to boot.
The Yates family were just a day or two away from taking a Grand Tour with Simon, but Adam Yates, who’s 25/1 with Ladbrokes, has gone under the radar. He broke his pelvis at Catalunya but has since returned with an excellent fourth at the Tour of California and his second to Thomas at the Dauphine offers yet more encouragement. He should be hitting his peak towards the end of the race after an enforced absence and can climb with the best as his 2016 fourth shows.