Tour De France 2017 Preview – Mountains & Points Classification

Tour de France 2017 July 1 – 23

Mountains Classification

Prior to a change to the scoring system five years ago the mountains classification rarely went to one of the very best climbers – typically the main challengers for the general classification – and instead was dominated by riders who would get in the daily breaks and mop up early mountain points before taking a breather. However, since the changes both Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome have won the jersey while Rafal Majka, another rider with a Grand Tour podium to his name, has won it twice.

This year though we should see a return to the lesser names contesting this market. The reason for that is the lack of summit finishes. From 2013 to 2016 there were always at least 170 points available at these finishes but this year there is just 80, with the points distribution looking far more reminiscent of 2012 when Tommy Voeckler picked up the polka dot jersey ahead of Fredrik Kessiakoff. Those two finished 26th and 40th in the overall standings that year.

Rafal Majka is again one of the favourites but we expect him to be focussing on a high overall finish and similarly we can rule out most of the names at the top of the market as they will be aiming for top 10 finishes.

Two Frenchmen that both rode the Giro d’Italia and will likely be more interested in stage wins than their overall position look worth focussing on. Thibaut Pinot finished fourth at the Giro and undoubtedly has the climbing pedigree to claim the jersey. He’s also come fourth in the polka dot standings in 2014 and 2015 so is not averse to chasing some mountain points. However, he looked off form at the French championships a week ago and he’s possibly not fully recovered from his efforts at the Giro.

So our preference is for Pierre Rolland. He’s tried to win this jersey in recent years as he’s come in the top six in three of the past five editions. However, with this route set to rule out the top contenders he’ll never have a better chance of taking the jersey home with him. Unlike Pinot, Rolland did not push himself every day at the Giro but did pick up a stage win and had further success at the recent Route du Sud as he won a mountain top finish. With his team declaring Talansky and Uran to be co-leaders that suggests Rolland has a free rein to target this jersey and he certainly has the class to do so.

Stage 9 will be the key to winning the polka dots as the race goes over three Hors Categorie climbs and given that day’s importance anybody with designs on the jersey is unlikely to have shown their ambitions prior to then. Whoever looks the strongest rider in the break that day will definitely be worth an in-play wager in this market as well.

Betting Strategy 

 BACK – Pierre Rolland at 13

Points Classification

Peter Sagan is just 1.51 to win this jersey for a sixth consecutive year so the only thing to decide is if we’re backing or laying him. Last year he finished with more than double the points of his nearest challenger and his average winning margin in this classification has been 136 points in his previous five triumphs.

In an attempt to give the pure sprinters more of a chance there was a change to the scoring in 2015 to award the winners on “flat” stages more points. That saw Andre Greipel finish only 66 points behind but to put that into perspective he’d still have finished behind Sagan even if he’d picked up a pair of runners-up spots on flat stages that he otherwise failed to score on. However, there weren’t many of them – he won four stages. So if anyone is to challenge Sagan they’ll probably have to be winning five stages and that’s highly unlikely.

In the last 32 Tours only two men have won at least five stages in the same year. Lance Armstrong won five in 2004 but that included two time trials and you know what, so Mark Cavendish is the only man to do so in mass start stages. He’s achieved the feat three times, winning five stages in both 2010 and 2011 and six in 2009.

However, no sprinter in the field looks capable of dominating to that extent right now. Marcel Kittel is the fastest man but isn’t going to be chasing points at the intermediate sprints and even when he won four stages in 2014 he still finished fourth in the points classification. Any wins he takes are therefore likely to just take points away from the other fast men who might have more of an eye on the jersey.

More worrying for the rest of the field is that Sagan looks to have got even faster in the bunch sprints and just as at this stage in 2016 he’s already won six times this year. With eight runners-up finishes (one more than a year ago) the World Champion looks on fine form. There’s no stopping the Green Machine as long as he stays on his bike and he should be a fair bit shorter than that current price so we’ll be lumping on.

Betting Strategy

  BACK – Peter Sagan at 1.51

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