Team GB might be taking the stars of the individual event into the relay final, writes Jack Houghton, but they lack the depth of talent to justify short odds
"It’s worth noting that World Championships and Olympics are typically won in around seven minutes flat, and a Great Britain team have never got within two seconds of that..."
It would be easy to see the market for the Men's 4x200m Fresstyle, for which Great Britain are the 1.402/5 favourites, and assume that the heroes from the individual event - Tom Dean and Duncan Scott - are nailed on to claim another gold for Team GB here. They were certainly impressive in qualifying, getting into the final with nearly two seconds in hand of their nearest rivals. Add to that the fact that Duncan Scott will likely be drafted in to allow the team to go faster still, and those odds could begin to look generous.
It's worth noting, though, that World Championships and Olympics are typically won in around seven minutes flat. A Great Britain team have never got within two seconds of that, and even with Scott's participation, they will struggle to do so here. And other nations have plenty of talent to draft in, too, most notably Team USA, who will ring the changes for a final that will be significantly faster than the heats. Dean and Scott might impress, but Team GB lack the strength-in-depth to justify that level of favouritism. They are a big lay.
It's little wonder that Wout Van Aert is the short-priced favourite for the Men's Individual Time Trial at around 2.8815/8. After all, he's an excellent time trialist, can win bunch sprints against the best in the world, can win mountainous stages at the Tour de France, can win one-day races. Give him a base drum and harmonica and he could probably still do all this whilst performing a one-man band version of Waltzing Matilda to entertain his fellow riders.
Van Aert is not the best time trialist in the world, though. Filippo Ganna is. Categorically. The problem for Ganna is that this course is not ideal: his best performances have come where the going is flat and fast, allowing him to put his phenomenal power down on the road. Hence what look generous odds of around 5.409/2.
Ganna is the choice, though. If this course was flat, the form suggests he would be around 40 seconds ahead of Van Aert. It's not flat - and that will bring Van Aert closer - but then Ganna has had a much easier schedule of late and showed on Stage 14 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia that he's perfectly capable of putting down a fast time where there is some elevation involved.
Word has it that Annemiek van Vleuten thought she had won the Olympic Road Race, not realising that Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer was up the road and clear. Embarrassing, and no doubt van Vleuten (7.006/1) - twice time-trialing world champion - will want to make amends here.
On the form of this season, though, teammate Anna van der Breggen (2.9015/8) is the stronger of the Dutch pair. She has won the two time trials she's ridden this year, including the Dutch national championship, where she was ahead of van Vleuten, and, crucially, the hilly Stage 4 time trial of the Giro.
Van der Breggen is the bet ahead of Chloe Dygert (2.608/5). Dygert is a former world champion at the discipline but has been largely absent from races after struggling with injuries.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Jack Houghton’s Tokyo 2020 P&L:
Staked (settled bets): 18.00