Tour de France preview
Our resident cycling trader and expert on all things French, Frederic Bojan gives us his views on where the value can be found on this year's Tour de France:
The main contenders for this Tour will be the lifelong enemies Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.
After both finishing on the podium last year with some internal tensions as they were in the same team, Armstrong has made the choice to create his own team for his last Tour ever and aims to defy all the critics saying that he cannot beat Contador. He has with him probably the best team of the whole peloton.
Contador is 4/7 which is a very decent price in my opinion while Armstrong is 8/1, should be more considered to be backed each-way. Contador has been rock solid throughout the season and if the logic is respected he should win this Tour relatively easily.
To deal with these two champions, the Luxembourgian rider Andy Schleck is at 7/1 a serious force to be reckoned with but doubts have increased about his fitness since he fell at training recently. His brother Frank Schleck (33/1) could then take the reins of his team in case Andy fails to be in form
The British rider Bradley Wiggins is definitely the one to watch, last year s impressive Tour showed a solid presence in high mountains as well as in time trials, 16/1 is worth a shot. He can be the dark horse of this competition. He rode very carefully during the Giro and seems to have focused on the Tour to reach his top form.
Other riders that made of the Giro their priority were Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans, and to some extent Carlos Sastre, they have all had a tremendous fight in a very demanding race, and I have very strong doubts about their ability to be on top of things during the Tour.
Some other cyclists may have a chance to shine on the roads as they have shown a lot of potential recently, we may have a look at Robert Gesink (25/1), Jurgen Van den Broeck (66/1) or Michael Rogers. Rogers (100/1) won the Tour of California, whereas Gesink and Van den Broeck had very good results in the recent races respectively the Tour de Suisse and the Dauphine Libere.
The very big odds of this year s Tour could be Pierre Rolland (200/1) and Nicholas Roche (300/1).Their polyvalence and constant progress gives them some credit.
We can also mention a rider like Denis Menchov (25/1), who has been surprisingly close to zero this season but is supposed to ride the Tour to win it. If he wakes up, he will be hard to beat.
Mark Cavendish is the logical favourite of this outright (11/10); he is on the flat almost unbeatable. His team is dedicated to him and the green jersey is his priority.
Tyler Farrar (6/1) will fight to avoid last year s British domination on the sprint, and Norwegian Thor Hushovd (5/1) will try to get back his deficit on the sprint with breaking away in the hilly stages
Apart of these 3 giants, the surprise could be Edvald Boasson Hagen (16/1) thanks to his polyvalence (can sprint in flat stages, but also in a more punchy terrain).