This is perhaps the only cycling event that does not require a long explanation to people who do not follow cycling. Most sports fans have heard of the Tour de France as it is the biggest cycling race in the world. It takes place over three weeks and it takes the riders all over France.
This year’s route sees the riders start in Liege in Belgium before heading to France and heading round the country in clockwise route. This means the riders tackle the Alps first this year then the Pyrenees before heading back to Paris.
The route and terrain is very important to consider when thinking about who to bet on. This year see the route is less favourable to pure mountain climbers as it only has three mountain summit finishes. Often in recent years there has been double this amount. Mountain top finishes are important because they are often the key stages where big time gaps can occur. This coupled with the fact that there is over 100km of time trialling (over three stages) mean this year’s Tour de France winner will need to incredibly strong in both disciplines.
Two clear favourites for the race have emerged throughout in the season. Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans are the two riders with the skill sets best suited to win this year’s Tour de France. Both time trial very well and can set a strong pace on the climbs that stop most of their rivals attacking and taking large chunks of time from them.
This year the riders have had contrasting fortunes. Evans won last year’s Tour de France in impressive style but also had a strong season building up to it. This year he has been less impressive as his early season was hit by injury. But he impressed in his last race at the Criterium du Dauphine finishing third behind Wiggins.
Bradley Wiggins came into last year’s race in fine form but crashed out early on. This year he comes into the race with an even better build up. He has won three out of the four stage races (week long mini Tour de Frances) he has ridden this year. His team is strong this year as demonstrated at the Dauphine where they had four riders in the top ten. He is better in time trials then Evans and has out climbed him in the mountains this year. All signs point towards Wiggins being on the top spot in Paris.
But personally Evans is still the better bet for me. Firstly because of the odds; Wiggins price has come in steadily all year and is now as short as 2.25 to win the Tour. Considering that this is a three week race that has so many variables can rule riders out, like crashes, this price is far too short.
Secondly I think Wiggins has always just come up a little bit short in the key moments in Grand Tours. In 2009 he cracked on Alpe d’Huez and missed out on a podium spot and he did the same on the Angliru in the Vuelta last year. Evans proved with his strong ride last year that he can win these big races. He won the race last year by taking a risk and letting contenders go up the road and riding at his own pace behind limiting his losses. I am not convinced Wiggins has a performance like that in him. Therefore my two advised bets in the overall are
Best bets: Bradley Wiggins not to win the overall classification @ 1.57; Cadel Evans to win the overall classification @ 3.25