first_imgWhat an incredible start to the Tour de France. Everything from the fastest of sprints to the hardest of winds, and every type of climb in-between in a frantic first phase of the 106th Tour de France has kept the fans on the edge of their seats and the punters guessing – at least when it comes to stages.Yesterday onlookers were treated to another thrilling day as echelons split the peloton into three sections with Team Ineos (formerly known as Team Sky) amongst several others tearing the main body of the field apart.That effort succeeded, and Ineos, thanks to the work of Luke Rowe, Gianni Moscon and Michal Kwiatkowski, managed to push up defending Champion Geraint Thomas and young hotshot Egan Bernal in the lead group, along with the yellow jersey, Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step. With them were other yellow jersey Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), and Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) were all in the front group and all of them ended up benefitting overall, gaining 1:40 on Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ).Further behind was Mikel Landa (Movistar), previous white jersey Guilo Ciccione (Trek-Segafredo) and also Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), whilst Jumbo-Visma made a horrendous tactical error in sending George Bennett back to get bottles as the pace went up. He lost 10 minutes and his place in the race for the yellow jersey, although when tour debutant Wout Van Aert won the final sprint, Jumbo had their fourth win from 10 stages at this Tour.How to watch the Tour? ITV4 and the ITV Hub have it, and so do Eurosport.The Top 201st Julian Alaphilippe Star Odds 16/12nd Geraint Thomas (8/13) +1:123rd Egan Bernal (7/2) +1:164th Steven Kruijswijk (18/1) +1:275th Emanuel Buchmann (50/1) +1:456th Enric Mas (20/1) +1:467th Adam Yates (22/1) +1:478th Nairo Quintana (14/1) +2.049th Dan Martin (80/1) +2.0910th Guilo Ciccione (On request) +2:3211th Thibaut Pinot (12/1) +2:3312th Patrick Konrad (350/1) +2:4613th Rigoberto Uran (50/1) +3:1814th Alejandro Valverde (200/1) +3:1815th Romain Bardet (66/1) +3:2016th Jakob Fuglsang (28/1) +3:2217th Warren Barguil (200/1) +3.2618th Roman Kreuziger (400/1) +3:2819th Xandro Meurisse (On Request) +3:4220th Richie Porte (40/1) +3:59TDF Outright Winner: The yellow jersey currently rests on the shoulders of Julian Alaphilippe, although we are yet to go to the many high altitude tests which will eventually decide the race. This tour goes over 2,000 meters on five occasions and four of them come in the last three days before Paris, with the Tourmalet’s summit finish on Stage 14 the first time in the high mountains.He’s 16’s from three figures beforehand and that price does have some temptations – he could well trade shorter – but his overall three-week record is enough to make one think that the main contenders can pass him.Geraint Thomas has – bar a crash on the Côte de la Jaillère on Stage 8 from which he emerged unharmed – had a brilliant week, and sitting in second place, last year’s winner is 8/13 with Star. That makes sense given that he raced well to finish best of the leading contenders on La Planche Des Belles Filles (the first summit finish of the race) and ought to grow into the race. However, he’s now just 8/13, which is no price with 11 stages to go and four summit finishes, and he can be avoided.Teammate Egan Bernal is just two seconds behind 7/2 with Star, although if one is being picky – as you should do at these prices – then he is too short for an each/way bet although the gap between him and Thomas is arguably too big.It’s 12/1 bar and with 1/4 the odds for each/way places and that looks worth investing in, especially as there’s still so much ground to be covered. Jumbo-Visma has already had a terrific tour with four wins, but they could still have a say in the end with Steven Kruijswijk. The Dutchman lit up the race with an incredible long-range raid on Stage 12 that went to Alpe d’Huez last year before finishing a very creditable fifth, and arguably did even better to finish fourth at the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) afterwards considering the effort he put in through the three weeks.That shows he stands up to his racing well and whilst some might think his best chance to win a Grand Tour (2016 Giro D’Italia) is gone, his 2018 season says different. This year, he finished 3rd in Andalucía, 5th in Catalunya and 6th in Romandie before having to skip the final stage of the Dauphiné due to sickness, and thanks to a powerful, well-rounded team, he’s found himself in the right place after 10 days here.With George Bennett totally in his service following the crosswinds, he has a super-domestique most riders would give their arm for, and the ideal set of skills for the key parts of the race. Fourth in the race overall, he’s only 15 seconds behind Geraint Thomas at the moment, has an excellent record at altitude, has a style of climbing that works well for long summit finishes, and also time trials very solidly against the clock to boot. A price of 18/1 looks too big for an each/way shot.TDF King Of The Mountains: Julian Alaphippe, last year’s winner, is favourite here but he feels very short at 10/3 given that his focus might well have changed following his fine start. The market in itself feels very volatile given the rules for scoring, as seen below.Points are awarded at the top of categorised climbs and mountain passes, with these graded from the easier 4th category to the hors catégorie climbs:Hors Catégorie above 2,000m passes (5 in total: the Tourmalet, Izoard, Galibier, Iseran and Val Thorens): The points on offer are 40-30-24-20-16-12-8-4 points respectively for first eight ridersCategory 1 climbs (13 in total): 10-8-6-4-2-1 pointsCategory 2 (12): 5-3-2-1 pointsCategory 3 (21): 2-1 pointsCategory 4 (14): 1 pointThe Hors Catégorie passes offer around 4 times as many points as even Category 1 climbs. They are the Tourmalet (summit finish), Izoard & Galibier (second and last climbs on Stage 17) Iseran (second last on Stage 18 & and Souvenir Henri Deserange) and Val Thorens (summit finish).Added up, this means that two of the summit finishes alone will have 80 points to the winner and that the final two climbs on Stage 17 will also offer 80 for one rider to go above it. In addition to this, all of the Hors Catégorie passes are over 2,000 meteres.It is easy to avoid Alaphilippe at 10/3 as he will surely try to stay in yellow for as long as possible and even if he does chase the jersey, he has conceded some ground to a couple of rivals. One of them is Guilo Ciccione, who should probably drop out of overall contention to try and follow up his Giro D’Italia title. The big question over his form is that of backing up hard efforts through the Giro in the Tour, but we’ve already seen him win 30 points in one day, and he’s a proven climber who has an advantage over the high climbing competition. A further raid or two should see him well placed before the crucial third week, when he might well be off the radar of the main contenders.Tim Wellens (43 points), and Thomas De Gendt (37 points) will ensure Lotto-Soudal have the jersey for a good long while, but those gains could easily be wiped out in a stage or two, so the pair will have to attack Thursday’s stages to the Col de Peyresourde and La Hourquette d’Ancizan before the real climbers get going, as their tallies could be threatened in one day. Indeed, Stage 15 has the Col de Montségur, Port de Lers and the Mur de Péguère before the Prat D’Albis, and the percentage call is to go for a pure climber at this stage.Ciccione is worth having in the book but if the GC men dominate the summit finishes as they did last year, then Egan Bernal could be worth having in the book. The Colombian is 7/2 to win the Tour and this could be a better value option to have onside, given that it’s entirely possible he’ll need to place highly in the third week.TDF Points Classification: Can anyone stop Peter Sagan if he stays up? No.TDF Young Rider Classification: A straight fight between Egan Bernal (2/5) and Enric Mas (3/1) which has the potential for some fireworks. The gap between the two in betting terms is probably a bit big but there’s no obvious value.TDF Team Classification: Movistar (leaders) and Trek Segafredo (1:30 behind but more than 10 minutes clear of the rest) are miles clear. The mountains ought to bring plenty of gaps but Movistar will be very hard to catch here and odds of 2/7 reflect that.TDF Top 10 Finish: If you think that Julian Alaphillipe will make a bold yellow jersey bid, then the 11/8 on him finishing in the Top 10 would look tasty. However, there’s just 2:31 between him and Thibaut Pinot in 10th, and that’s not a big gap if he cracks.RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)OUTRIGHT WINNERBACK Stephen Kruiswijk 1 pt each/way at 18/1 with starsports.betKING OF MOUNTAINSBACK Gulio Ciccione 1 pt each/way at 15/2 with starsports.betBACK Egan Bernal 1 pt each/way at 33/1 with starsports.betPROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 179.87 points(excluding Ryan Sidebottom Ashes bet)last_img