In case you hadn’t noticed, the Tour de France is very much underway. Euro 2012 and Wimbledon are over, and your excuses for not watching the tour are over. For those who haven’t been paying attention so far: we are 10 stages into the 21 stage race and lo and behold it is the British who have the most to cheer.
Bradley Wiggins is currently in the famous yellow jersey and is looking in a very strong position to win the whole race. His main challenge will come from last year’s winner Cadel Evans. Meanwhile, Two other British riders, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, have also won stages making this the first Tour de France where three British riders have won a stage.
At this stage of the race, trying to extract value in the betting markets is harder than before the race. Firstly there are lots less markets still open. Secondly a lot of the key markets are halfway to being decided so the odds are not that appealing. At this moment in time it looks very likely that Sagan at 1.14 will win the green jersey from Goss, available at 6.50, while Wiggins - the 1.33 favourite - will win yellow from Evans, who can be backed at 5.00.
However the one classification that is still very open is the kings of the mountains competitions. The format for this competition was tweaked recently. The official website describe the change as
“Since the 2004 edition of the Tour de France, the competition for the Red Polka Dot Jersey includes a detail that adds a certain amount of spice to the race: for the final climb on a stage's profile, the points are doubled for Category 1, Category 2 and Top Category climbs. So the riders who lead this classification are undoubtedly the most courageous ones and the prize goes to those who remain out in front in this classification for the longest period of time.”
Last year this ruling favoured a climber who won key stages that finished on big mountain top finishes. This year there are less of these (only two left this race) and they are not HC climbs. This means that the polka dot jersey is likely to be decided by riders who attack earlier in the stages and get maximum points on category one and category HC climbs.
The key stages for this are 11, 12, 16 and maybe 14, where there are large KOM points on offer earlier on in the stage. From this we can narrow down the field of potential riders who could win the classification. They need to be riders who can climb well, get into breaks and have that little kick in the final 100 meters of a climbs. They also have to be down in time on general classification otherwise they will not be allowed in breaks.
Looking at the market on Unibet there are two riders that stand out as prime candidates:
Pierre Rolland, at 15.00: The Frenchman GC ambitions have gone as he is ten minutes down overall. He is one of the strongest climbers in the race as shown by his stage win up Alpe d’Huez in last year’s Tour. He also can get in a break with ease as he did in Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year. Lastly his team Europcar have little to focus on at the moment in this race so this could one achievable objective.
Egoi Martinez, at 75.00: Came second in this classification in this race in 2009 and has the ability to go one better. Like Europcar his team Euskaltel-Euskadi have little else to focus on in this race as their leader Samuel Sanchez crashed out.