The Tour de France often pays homage to cycling’s legends and 2019 is no different with Brussels hosting the grand départ – marking 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first ever overall win. Starting on Saturday 6th July to Sunday 28th July, along the route we travel just over 3460km including eight flat stages, seven mountain stages with five summit finishes and two-time trials combining for 54km (team and individual). It's the biggest date in the cycling betting calendar.
2018 was won by Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas but unfortunately, here we have neither Tom Dumoulin or Chris Froome – second and third on the podium last year respectively. Froome crashed during a recon at Critérium du Dauphiné and Dumoulin hasn’t recovered from a knee injury suffered at Giro d’Italia. Both riders are masters at time trials but they would’ve been disappointed at the lack of time trial kilometres here – 12km less compared to 2018.
This might not be good news for Thomas either and his bid to win a consecutive yellow jersey for Team INEOS (previously Team Sky). The Welshman is still likely to gain time on his rivals over that discipline but fewer kilometres usually mean smaller time gaps. Any rider on a bad day could lose a minute to Thomas over 27km but five summit finishes in the mountains give the climbers hope of attacking to recover lost time and test Team INEOS.
Domestiques in cycling are underappreciated and Thomas could have the ace in the pack to depend on – highly rated Egan Bernal. Super domestique or super sub? Bernal is willing to work for Thomas but what if Thomas hasn’t peaked in time? Thomas is 11/4 favourite with William Hill but his season so far has been hit and miss.
The #TDF2019 is littered with peaks: There will be three finish lines above 2000m for the first time in history! ⛰️— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) June 24, 2019
The route also boasts 4 cols at an altitude higher than 2000m throughout! 🚵 pic.twitter.com/C65pmA76IY
A recent abandonment at Tour de Suisse due to a minor crash disrupted his training before heading to France. He finished third at Tour de Romandie but after a shortened final stage (due to bad weather) we missed an opportunity to see how Thomas would react to nearly 3500m of altitude gain.
In 2018 Thomas gained impressive stage victories on La Rosiere and Alpe d’Huez so is proven on the toughest of ascents but this year’s tour has seven climbs over 2000m of altitude with the majority raced in the Alps during the final week. This favours the pure climbers and is why Bernal is favoured between the two. The youth of the peloton have dominated this year and Bernal is regarded as one of the most gifted climbers around.
This has been backed up by his overall wins at this year’s Paris-Nice and recently Tour de Suisse. His disappointment at missing Giro d’Italia after breaking his collarbone was soon forgotten when back riding the Andorran mountains only ten days later.
Bernal is not only a pure climber but an incredible all-rounder and has been available at double-figure prices throughout the year. If he still was I’d be recommending him but unfortunately since Dumoulin and Froome confirmed they’re missing the Tour, 3/1 with Coral.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) has been one of the biggest movers in the betting – 11/2 now with several firms. Momentum has swung in his favour all year winning races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Dauphiné. Thomas won the same race before his Tour last year and Froome also won the Dauphiné before three of his four Tours.
However Fuglsang’s record in three-week racing has been poor and his best finish in France was seventh back in 2013. Injury and illness has been a stumbling block and backing Fuglsang so short is a risk considering triple figure prices were available at the start of the year. Instead, betting the outsiders could reap rewards.
Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) is usually seen as France’s best chance at a homegrown winner. In the past five years he has finished top ten – second in 2016. He was recently seen at the first edition of Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge finishing second behind Jesus Herrada. His tactics trying to drop Herrada were questioned and afterwards, he seemed to lack the power required but I wouldn’t dismiss him based on this.
That race came the day after he rode the Dauphiné where the weather was wet and miserable. Several riders abandoned with illness including Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates – also seen as a contender for the yellow jersey. I think his Tour record is pretty solid, strong in the mountains and if he can limit his losses in the two time trials 25/1 with several firms is generous and should be considering in your cycling betting strategy.
Movistar bossed Giro d’Italia with Richard Carapaz and this increases the pressure on an exposed Nairo Quintana. Is he the leader? While Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa are at Movistar I’ll always have doubts. The former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner is only missing the yellow jersey from his palmarès but he needs to improve his recent three-week efforts and often haemorrhages time during the time trials. After all the negativity, Quintana at 16/1 with Bet365 is a big price for a past grand tour winner.
I’m willing to risk the forgotten man of the peloton instead – Rigoberto Urán. His team had a dreadful 2018 but there seems to be a fresh approach to racing at EF Education First and many of their riders have been performing well. Unfortunately for Urán, he has suffered from injury since the Roubaix stage of last year’s Tour but looking at previous form he finished second in 2017 in a tour which offered not too many time trial kilometres.
Urán slowly seems to be riding himself into form again with a decent comeback appearance at the Tour of California working for Sergio Higuita and sticking with Valverde and Ivan Sosa over the Pyrenees at the recent La Route d'Occitanie. 33/1 each-way with Ladbrokes for Urán with several firms could turn into a shrewd bet.
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