Tour de France In-Play: The Leading Contenders
July 12, 2019
As a sporting icon in its own right, the Tour de France has suffered plenty of ups and downs over the years.
The 2019 renewal is well underway and already the riders are feeling the effects of what the famous TdF has to throw at them.
It’s an event that barely allows you to catch your breath, and that’s the same for spectators and riders, as towns flash by in a matter of second.
With six of the 21 stages already complete, Luke Parkinson has taken a look at the top three contenders in the in-play betting for the yellow jersey.
The Welshman collected his first yellow jersey as the winner of the Tour de France last year, and Geraint Thomas will be desperate to prove his worth in a team that seems to have a legacy of birthing superstars.
It was originally thought that he would share the lead role with Bernal is Froome’s absence, but a disappointing third stage saw him slip behind the leaders to finish seventh in the general classification at the end of that stage.
It was the 500m uphill sprint to the line that did for Thomas, as Bernal and Groupama-FDJ rider Pinto stole a match on him as they raced for the finish in France’s Champagne region.
However, by stage six, Thomas is back in contention and the old saying of ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ comes to mind as we watched Thomas grind his way up the French mountains to finish fourth in stage six, and edge up to 5th in the general classification standings.
You certainly wouldn’t put it past Thomas going from strength to strength from here, and at EVS with Betfred to win the 2019 Tour de France, the bookies certainly think he can go all the way as well.
This could be the year that Egan Bernal announces himself to the world stage. Those were the words of The Times cycling journalist, David Walsh, earlier this week and he might just be right.
The 22-year-old has the privilege of being the lead rider for Team Ineos at the Tour de France this year, the same team that was once Team Sky and has had Tour winners in the shape of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in recent years.
Bernal is certainly in good company in that respect and has some experience in the role from the Giro d’Italia. He had originally been selected as the team’s leader for that race before breaking his collarbone in training. However, when Chris Froome dramatically crashed out, Bernal stepped back in to be the joint leader of Team Ineos with Thomas.
A lot is now expected after wins in the Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse earlier this year, and Bernal is certainly feeling that responsibility with four seconds already between him and team-mate Thomas.
If Team Ineos are to continue the success of Team Sky, then they have two brilliant men leading their charge in Thomas and Bernal. However, with 888Sport offering 7/2 for Bernal to win this year’s TdF, he might just have a battle on his hands.
Astana Pro Team
The recent history of the Tour de France would tell you that backing anything but the favourite is a pretty pointless strategy.
Chris Froome has dominated the recent renewals, and even when he hasn’t, the favourite has usually stood up – whether that be Geraint Thomas, Vincenzo Nibali or Bradley Wiggans.
That means Jakob Fuglsang’s chances of wearing the yellow jersey in Paris looks unlikely, despite Ladbrokes having him as short as 8/1 to do so.
He did win the Criterium du Dauphine for Astana last month, but a crash in the first stage of this year’s Tour has made life even tougher for him now and it would be some comeback from here.
As a qualified sports journalist, Luke has worked with nationally-recognised outlets covering events from the World Cup to the Grand National. Luke is one of the few men who has to admit that their father was the better footballer, but at least he can take comfort from the fact he got to see his Dad score at Wembley. When Luke isn’t talking football, you’ll normally find him following his other passion, horse racing and has his own horses in training with Paul Nicholls and Mark Johnston.