Good Evans – Cadel can win again!
Is Le Tour 2012 a race in two? Markets suggest as much and it would take a brave bike lover to bet otherwise.
Bradley Wiggins ($2.20) goes in as the favourite after a stellar season which saw him take out the triple of Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and the Criterium Dauphine. With reigning world champion Mark Cavendish and two-time stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen part of a deep Team Sky outfit, the Brit is hard to go past.
But there are some questions. Can this all-star team work in harmony? What effect will Cavendish’s Olympic ambitions have on the team dynamic? And has Wiggins done too much before the race?
Australia’s defending champion Cadel Evans ($3) was plagued by injury and poor health at the start of the season but looks to have timed his run well. His impressive third at the Criterium du Dauphine and victory at Corsica’s Criterium Internationals suggest he’s peaking at the right time. Throw in the increased number of time trials, a solid ensemble cast at BMC and the miles he’s already put in here and I think he’s entitled to slight favouritism.
So what of the rest?
Dutch rider Robert Gesink, the winner of this year’s Tour of California, looks like a decent outside bet as does Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (both $23). The $7 for Gesink to finish top three looks tempting. Denis Menchov ($19) may have two podium finishes and a new team but hasn’t had a huge amount of form to speak about in 2012. He’s not the greatest clock racer either and on this particular course that’s not going to help.
In terms of points classification the odds are on the money.
He may be just 22 but Slovakian Peter Sagan ($1.80) looks almost unstoppable. Don’t let him being a tour virgin fool you. Already this year he’s picked up points classification wins in Oman, California and Switzerland after an equally strong 2011. The relentless pace of the tour may be about the only thing that will get in his way. Defending points champion Cavendish ($4) is a shot but you have to wonder whether London’s calling is greater than that of Team Sky’s.734 views