It's a day to oppose the favourites, writes Jack Houghton, where the once-dominate USA swim team might be vulnerable to in-fighting
"That win in Arzachena indicated that Brownlee has prepared with the heat and humidity of Tokyo in mind, and he is value to complete his set of medals with a gold here..."
There are few things so certain in life as Team USA picking up the Men's 4x100m Freestyle gold at each Olympics, but the 1.501/2 available on them here looks short.
They have qualified for the final, of course, and, as usual, with their "B" team (to save their stars - like Caeleb Dressel - from over-exerting themselves). But it's worth remembering that Team USA have not taken part in a competitive freestyle relay since the World Championships in 2019 and so are at a distinct disadvantage when compared to their European rivals, who had their area championships in Hungary in March to refine their racing instincts.
It was no surprise, then, to see Italy dominate their heat and qualify fastest, and Russia can be expected to improve in the final. Add to this the reported fractures within Team USA and they might be vulnerable.
Following Matthieu van der Poel's multi-discipline career can be overwhelming: how can he be so good in so many different spheres? He wins one-day Classics and stages of the Tour de France in style, dominates cyclo-cross world championships, and transitions to mountain bikes whenever he fancies, picking up world cup races at will. It's little surprise that he is the short favourite to win an Olympic title here, then, at around 1.9720/21.
He's worth opposing, though. Team GB's Tom Pidcock, although earlier in his career than rival van der Poel, has begun to look equally versatile, beating the best on the road in one-day races, and bettering van der Poel more than once on the mountain bike. Pidcock is likely available at around 3.002/1, but with other riders - like Germany's Mathias Flueckiger - more than capable of causing a shock here, laying van der Poel is the better bet.
On the surface, the field in the Men's Triathlon looks open and deep. A valid case can be made for the favourite, Vincent Luis (5.609/2), who won the world title in 2019 and went on to be undefeated throughout the curtailed 2020 season. But likewise, cases can be made for Mario Mola (6.005/1), Jelle Geens (30.0029/1) and Marten Van Riel (30.0029/1). Many will also like Kristian Blummenfelt (8.007/1), who has arguably been the most impressive this season, recording wins in Lisbon and Yokohama. There's even an argument that Brownlee's teammate, Alex Yee (7.006/1), could win: he showed he is more than capable when taking his last race in Leeds.
A crucial thing happened at the end of May, though, when Jonathan Brownlee (8.007/1) won in the heat and humidity of Arzachena. Previously, those conditions have been Brownlee's undoing, and he would therefore be an athlete to ignore here, where the conditions will likely decide things. That win indicated that Brownlee has prepared with Tokyo in mind, though, and he is value to complete his set of medals with a gold here.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tokyo 2020 P&L:
Staked (settled bets): 6.00