A $50.00 outsider is the value bet.

Few previews of this year’s delayed Tour de France will start with an analysis of a $50.00 outsider, but with a market seemingly befuddled by the uncertainty around the 2020 season, cycling pundits and punters have forgotten how to assess form when predicting the likely outcome of this year’s race.

So, let’s get straight to it. Nairo Quintana is a huge price to win the Yellow Jersey that he has coveted since bursting onto the elite scene in 2013. With two grand tours to his name and two second-place finishes in the Tour, he has the strongest pedigree of all the 2020 starters.

As so often happens in sport, though, this kind of deep form is often forgotten and overlooked by those lured by the recent, new, and novel. Consequently, after a few years in the wilderness, where he was hamstrung by an unsupportive and ill-managed Movistar team, Quintana has fallen off the contender list in most people’s minds: considered an over-the-hill relic of the old guard, already swept away by a new generation of young guns.

It will likely prove unwise to discount Quintana so soon, however. Still only 30, he has seemed rejuvenated by a move to Team Arkéa–Samsic this season, shown by his dominance on Stage 7 of Paris-Nice in March of this year, climbing some of the summits that will feature in this year’s Tour.  Since the resumption of cycling, he has shown solid form in the Tour de l’Ain and Dauphine, despite losing some training time after being knocked off his bike by a car in training in his native Colombia.

A route for the climbers.

Quintana could not have chosen a better year to return to form, with a route for the Tour de France seemingly designed with him in mind.

Beginning in Nice and taking a counter-clockwise spin around the southern half of France, which sees the race visit five mountain ranges, riders barely go a day before they are taking on another arduous stage of ascending endurance.

This route planning represents a shift from the norm – we typically see mountainous stages blocked together, interspersed with flatter ones in between – and it is a shift that will suit Quintana.

He will be especially pleased that the individual time trial which has so often ended his race ambitions in previous grand tours ends with a climb of La Planche des Belles Filles, meaning he should lose less time than normal to his more powerful rivals.

Egan Bernal the best of the favourites.

For the same reasons that the route favours Quintana, it will also be to the advantage of his compatriot Egan Bernal, a pure climber. Last year’s winner of the Tour is still only 23 years old and has the strength of Team Ineos – who have provided seven of the last eight Tour winners with four different riders  – to marshal his bid to become the first person to defend a debut win since Miguel Indurin in 1992.

Bernal has shown excellent form since post-lockdown racing resumed on August 1st, winning La Route d’Occitanie, placing second in the Tour de l’Ain, and showing well in the Dauphine, before abandoning the race after Stage 3 with a back problem. It was described as a precautionary move. With Team Ineos uber-coach Tim Kerrison overseeing Bernal’s preparations, last year’s winner is likely to reach his peak when it matters on the roads of France.

If a $50.00 back of Quintana is too speculative for you, then, and you prefer your punting to be led by the greater certainties of single-figure odds, Bernal, at around $3.75, is good value for a repeat.

An over-reaction to the wasps of Jumbo-Vista.

He’s certainly better value than Primoz Roglic at $2.90, whose odds for Tour glory have tumbled on the back of his – and his team’s – recent showings. Winning his first grand tour at the Vuelta a Espana in 2019 and following that up in recent weeks at the Tour de l’Ain, Roglic also looked set to take the honours at the Dauphine before abandoning before the last stage to nurse cuts and bruises sustained in a fall.

Ever-present in Roglic’s successes have been his dominant team, the yellow and black jerseys of Jumbo-Vista setting punishing splits as they have spearheaded the peloton in just about every stage in which they have had riders in recent weeks.

And Jumbo-Vista’s chances don’t end with Roglic.  Tom Dumoulin, the winner of the Giro D’Italia in 2017, has also been riding well in support of Roglic, and as an $8.00 shot, it would be no surprise to see Dumoulin featuring prominently in the three weeks of the Tour.

A case can be made for either rider claiming the Yellow Jersey in Paris, but neither of them represents value. Both are cut from similar cloths – superb time trialists who have lost weight to be able to survive long climbs in the mountains – and both will be feared.

However, the market needs to recognise that strong form in warm-up races – whether from teams or individual riders – rarely counts for anything in the Tour de France, which tends to reward those who peak in its final week. The route certainly won’t help their chances.

Other contenders for the Yellow Jersey.

Of the other riders, Julian Alaphilippe, at around $44.00, is the most interesting.  Leading the race for two weeks in 2019, his derring-do style of racing might serve him well on a route that invites swashbuckling speculation.

It would be no surprise to see him taking an early lead in the General Classification again, and punters backing him pre-race might be able to trade out of their positions for a guaranteed profit. Provided they don’t maintain their faith in Alaphilippe for too long, that is.

Because for all his cavalier approach might be to his advantage in the early stages of the race, it will also likely be what costs him in the end: expect to see him implode in the Alps in the third week.

Otherwise, it’s hard to get excited about the prospects of any other rider. Thibaut Pinot ($9.00) has been well touted, but expect another hard-luck story at some point. Tadej Pogacar ($13.00) is talented but unlikely to be good enough in such a deep field. And Daniel Martinez ($34.00), the winner of the Dauphine, might be able to survive a week at the top end, but will likely capitulate if asked to maintain his form across three.

As for the others, the usual suspects of Mikel Landa ($70.00), Miguel Angel Lopez ($70.00), Rigoberto Uran ($120.00), Richie Porte ($120.00) and Adam Yates ($200.00) will be in the minds of some punters at big odds, but the best hope for these riders will be to target stage wins, rather than trying, unsuccessfully, to muddy the waters of the race for the Yellow Jersey.

It’s a year for the young and not-as-old-as-you-think of Colombian cycling to dominate.

Best Bets

BACK – Nairo Quintana to win the Tour de France

BACK – Egan Bernal to win the Tour de France

If you’ve read our preview for the Tour de France Yellow Jersey hopefuls, you’ll know that this year’s route will favour the climbers.  But how will this affect the competitions for the other jerseys?

The White Jersey will most likely be a non-event

Awarded to the cyclist, aged 25 or under on January 1st 2020, who finishes highest in the General Classification, the White Jersey of the Young Rider Classification is supposed to be a proving ground for Yellow Jersey hopefuls of the future. And indeed it has been, with the likes of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Nairo Quintana all announcing their future brilliance by winning it.

With last year’s overall race winner Egan Bernal still only 23, though, the need for an apprentice competition seems somewhat redundant. On his way to glory last year, Bernal also won the White Jersey, and he will continue to qualify for it through to the end of the 2022 Tour de France, when he could conceivably be contending for his fourth Yellow Jersey.

The key question, then, is whether Bernal – joint-favourite at around $3.50 for the overall race – is also value for the White Jersey at around $1.62.

Well, it is difficult to see the other youngsters in the race beating him. Tadej Pogacar ($3.50) is undoubtedly talented and a rider to note in the future, but this is his debut Tour and it is unlikely that he’ll be able to sustain high placings on the multiple summit finishes in order to stay close enough to Bernal. Likewise, Daniel Martinez ($13.00) might have been good enough to win the Dauphine over five stages, but that’s a quite different test to the 21 stages of a Tour.

Enric Mas ($15.00) is another rider to note.  His team, Movistar, have traditionally brought multiple General Classification hopefuls to the race, expecting riders like Mas to support them in a domestique role amidst chaotic infighting and irrational on-the-road tactics. This year Movistar’s roster is more refined, though, and Mas is likely their best prospect for glory.

Then there’s Bernal’s teammate, Pavel Sivakov ($13.00), who will likely feature highly in the General Classification by virtue of his role as super-domestique for Team Ineos. And this sums up the fate of the White Jersey: the others are only contenders if some calamity befalls Bernal.

The $1.62 on Bernal is probably value, then.

An eighth Green Jersey for Sagan?

As is the $1.62 on Peter Sagan.

Much is being made of the rise of Wout Van Aert ($6.00), who shows a similar versatility to Sagan, being able to mix it in bunch sprints and on the climbs. But with Team Jumbo-Vista taking two solid Yellow Jersey contenders in Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin, it is unlikely that Van Aert will be sufficiently released from domestique duties to compete for the Green Jersey of the Points Classification.

Which leaves few other riders with viable claims. Sam Bennett ($6.00) and Caleb Ewan ($10.00) are the best sprinters in the race, and will be favourites to win the five or so stages that are flat enough to be guaranteed a bunch finish, but this is unlikely to bring them enough points to contend with Sagan, who will also be likely to place highly on those same stages.

In 2017, Sagan was thrown out of the Tour after a clash with Mark Cavendish, otherwise he would likely have won the last eight Points Classifications. And given his pliability – he’ll pick up points in bunch sprints, in intermediate sprints, on punchy climbs, and will do this on every stage, even in the mountains – it’s hard to see how anything other than misfortune, or a misdemeanour similar to 2017, will stop him winning another Green Jersey.

De Gendt a solid cornerstone for Polka-dot Portfolio

Thomas de Gendt has been an ever-present contender for the Mountains Classification in various races in his career, most notably at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016 and 2018, and when holding the Polka-dot jersey for six stages at the 2016 Tour de France.

At around $16.00 to be wearing it in Paris this year, he represents solid value, and is worth a small-stakes interest in a market in which it is usually better to build a portfolio of bets, rather than ploughing too deeply on a single furrow.

That’s because it’s never clear who all the contenders for the Polka-dot Jersey are until we are a week or so into the Tour. Some riders, like De Gendt, will likely be active from the start, attempting to get in breakaways and sweep up points on the intermediate climbs, before capitulating on the final summits each day as the General Classification guys take over. Reports suggest that Romain Bardet will take a similar approach, although the $10.00 available on him looks skinny.

Other riders, however, will come to compete for the Mountains Classification by default, as they fall out of contention for overall honours. Make sure to read our daily previews, therefore. As the Tour progresses, and new riders lose time in the General Classification, we will likely add riders to this portfolio. Julian Alaphilippe is an obvious contender in this regard, but the same is true for a host of others, including Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa and Adam Yates.

Best Bets

BACK – Egan Bernal at $1.62 for the Young Rider Classification.

BACK – Peter Sagan at $1.62 for the Points Classification.

BACK – Thomas De Gendt at $16.00 for the Mountains Classification.

Want tips for every single stage of the Tour De France? Head to our page here during the race for the best bets and expert analysis across all 21 stages.

Tour de France Odds

Extra Information

The official Tour de France site is an excellent resource for examining the route and individual stages, and for catching up on the results of each stage.

And for rider information, including their previous results, Pro Cycling Stats is best.

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