We love a little flutter here at Allez! Allez! CC but this year’s Tour de France looks like it could be the most unpredictable for a while.
With no Chris Froome or Tom Dumoulin on the start list for the Grand Depart in Brussels on Saturday, the door is wide open for an opportunist to take the famous yellow jersey.
So where is our money going in the battle for the general classification? Well, that would be telling but here’s our form guide to help you decide where the value lies.
There’s a lot of pressure on the shoulder of the young Colombian, especially given the fact he’s been named by Team Ineos as joint leader alongside last year’s winner Gerraint Thomas.
Bernal had originally been pencilled in for the Giro but a broken collarbone – and Froome’s horrific injury during the Dauphiné – has opened the door at the Tour.Embed from Getty Images
He won last month’s Tour de Suisse without looking spectacular and that could be a sound indication of the fact there is more to come from the 22-year-old.
It’s never really been in doubt that Bernal would one day which the Tour, this year just presents an earlier than expected opportunity.
Worth a punt? If he can cope with the pressure then the Tour is pretty much his to lose. He’s priced at 9/4 which doesn’t offer great value but could be a safe bet.
After Froome’s crash, it looked like the improbable had become the probably for Thomas – the chance to win a second Tour.
But a crash of his own at the Tour de Suisse is a huge setback for the Welshman, who only has 24 race days in his legs this season.Embed from Getty Images
The fact Ineos have named joint leaders may tell its own story but don’t bet against Thomas. He’s overcome plenty in the past – including his own team not pulling for him last season – to triumph.
Worth a punt? Team Ineos will no doubt see how the race plays out on the road before deciding which of their two leaders to back as the race hits the business end. And at 5/2 it looks like the bookies are going to do likewise.
It’s been a fantastic season so far for the 34-year-old Dane who has racked up impressive results, taking the overall at the Dauphiné, the Ruta del Sol and a stunning win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
That said, it does seem strange to be considering someone at that age and with no real Grand Tour pedigree – his best result was seventh at the Tour back in 2013.Embed from Getty Images
As we’ve said before though, the lack of standout favourites with pedigree means someone like Fuglsang, who has form rather than history on their side, could come out on top.
Worth a punt? At 5/1 there’s a bit of value in throwing a couple of quid at Fuglsang to keep things interesting but probably no more than that. His team look strong but winning a three-week race is a completely different ballgame to what he’s done previously.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider is another contender in decent form this year.
He finished second on GC at both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya and fourth at LBL as well as winning the mountains classification at the Itzulia Basque Country suggest he is coming into the race in optimal condition.Embed from Getty Images
Failed to finish the Dauphiné after stomach problems on the final stage, when he was sitting second on GC having led earlier in the race, but that shouldn’t worry him too much.
He’s backed by a very good squad, including twin brother Simon, and the fact he seems to have upped his time trial game – he finished sixth in the TT at the Dauphiné – is evidence he’s moving in the right direction.
Worth a punt? Definitely worth an each-way bet for a place on the podium. At 12/1 he’s a decent price, even if he does miss out on the top step.
We had to include a Frenchman somewhere towards the top of the list and Pinot – rather than Bardet – seems to be the safer option.
The Groupama-FDJ rider looked solid at the Dauphiné, where he finished fifth, and won the Tour de l’Ain back in May, albeit against a field which lacked star names.Embed from Getty Images
The pressure is always on the 29-year-old to perform on home soil but he hasn’t finished three of the six Tours he’s started.
The French press is already ramping things up – they had a headline declaring ‘now or never’ for Pinot and Bardet last week – and that won’t do anything to ease the nerves.
It’s highly unlikely either will be stood on the top step when the race reaches Paris but we’re in uncertain times…
Worth a punt? It might be better saving your money. His chances of a podium are slim although he could be good for a top ten finish.
The Italian finished on the podium at the Giro d’Italia but never really looked like troubling Richard Carapaz for the overall maglia rosa.
Spent a key stage marking pre-race favourite Primoz Roglic while Carapaz got away and then didn’t quite find the time to attack and put time into the Ecuadorian once the Movistar rider was in pink.Embed from Getty Images
Is capable of a big performance and having a reduced field in terms of stand-out contenders might suit him but chances are slim.
Worth a punt? Could be a decent each-way bet at 33/1 but might be better sticking your money elsewhere.
We’re big fans of the UAE Team Emirates rider here at Allez! Allez! CC headquarters but there’s nothing to suggest in his form this season that he’s going to be a contender for this year’s Tour.
Martin has a decent smattering of top ten finishes – including an impressive second overall at the Tour of the Basque – but has found wins hard to come by this year.Embed from Getty Images
Was struck by illness during the Ardennes classics season which led him to abandon both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Has finished in the top ten at the Tour for the last three years but hasn’t ever properly troubled the podium in that time, with sixth in 2017 his highest-placed finish.
Will fancy himself on a couple of the stages, especially with a long uphill drag to the line so may well add to his two Tour stage wins.
Worth a punt? Here’s priced at 100/1 with some bookies which probably tells you all you need to know. Best to look for a stage win depending on form.
The Colombian is only missing the Tour de France from his Grand Tour palmares but you have to wonder whether he’s missed his chance.
While all eyes will be on countryman Bernal, Quintana is stuck as part of the dreaded Movistar triple threat alongside Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde.
It didn’t work last year and we just don’t see it working this year. All three are very good riders but the team politics (and egos) involved in this kind of tactic means the risk/reward ratio isn’t strong.
Worth a punt? As we keep saying, the Tour is wide open. They’ll be plenty of people who fancy Quintana at 14/1 but we won’t be indulging.
There on reputation…
Quintana’s teammate Mikel Landa is always mentioned as a possible contender and has finished fourth and seventh in the last two years. But whether he has the guile and the luck to become an actual contender remains to be seen.
Another rider always on these kinds of lists is Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte. The Australian had his early-season curtailed by illness and there’s nothing to suggest he’s in anything like the form or shape needed to win a grand tour.
Need a miracle…
There’s a whole heap of riders who would need a miracle to claim victory overall but our picks would probably be Deceuninck Quick-Step’s Enric Mas and Jumbo Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk.
Mas finished second in the Vuelta to Simon Yates last year and has been building slowly this season, finishing ninth in the Tour de Suisse although it’s worth noting the Spaniard was nearly five minutes behind winner Bernal.
Kruijswijk, on the other handed, posted top-five finishes in both the Vuelta and Tour last year and would be a good shout for a top ten. Looked set to win his first Grand Tour three years ago at the Giro before a crash on stage 19 robbed him of the victory.