After a cracking prologue the Tour de France got underway this week, and Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins cycling with the weight of a nation on his shoulders. The 32-year-old rider has already had a cracking year, winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine races so far, and was only beaten by a stunning ride from Swiss Fabian Cancellara in the prologue, so he must feel he has a chance, but history and geography stand in the way of him becoming the first British winner.
The odds on that are fairly slim, with most bookies making him favourite. This may be a little premature, with a huge body of work ahead of Wiggins before he can claim the title, but the fact the best price you can get on him is 5/4 with PaddyPower to win shows just how seriously his challenge is being taken by those in the know, betting-wise. Whether or not the cycling world, and more importantly reality match up with those predictions is what we wait to find out, and if you really know your pedalling it may also be worth looking at the over/under on stage wins for Mark Cavendish with BetFair.
Last year, the winner of the tour was Australian Cadel Evans, and at 9/4 with Coral it is clear the bookies feel he’ll be at the sharp end as the race progresses and has a real chance of defending his title. The Aussie has had to answer a few questions about his rival from the UK and has often made the point that this is more than a two-horse race, but he’ll want to get a few strong performances under his belt and show Wiggins he means business.
Other riders to look out for include Samuel Sanchez, Frank Schleck and Ryder Hesjedal. Hesjedal may be a bit tired after winning the Giro in May, but is still a 35/1 shot with BetFair, while Sanchez and Schelck are 39/1 and 51/1, both again with BetFair. The latter two are also well fancied for the king of the mountains, with Sanchez favourite at 11/2 and Schelck looking to surprise a few at 14/1, both with BlueSquare.
For a real gamble you could always look at young Slovakian Peter Sagan, already surprising a few by winning his first ever stage in stage one of this competition. You can get 5000/1 on him with SportingBet as winner, which I suspect means he won’t take the victory unless 2012 is remembered as the year of many boulder-related accidents, but he may be worth a look for the Green Jersey.