Kittel is favourite, again, writes Jack Houghton, but the stage doesn't play to his strengths and Matthews and Bouhanni can benefit...
"A better bet may be Pierre Latour, who has been matched at a high of [700.00], and will be motivated to ride well into Romans-sur-Isere, his hometown..."
What's the stage like?
Beautiful, highlighting the best volcanic geography of the Massif Central. A high start-point, which climbs steadily up to around 1,250 metres courtesy of two categorised climbs, before rapidly dropping down to close to sea-level with the last 50km largely flat. It's a relatively short stage at 165km, but the narrow, meandering roads will make the peloton more edgy than normal as they fight for position. Although the stage looks, at first glance, to be ripe for the sprinters, it is one of only two remaining days in which a breakaway may succeed, so there will be several riders wanting to have a go, which might make it difficult for the sprint teams to manage. And even if the sprinters do get in position for a showdown, 20m of ascent in the final 100m is unlikely to make this easy for them.
Who are the favourites?
It's understandable why Marcel Kittel heads the market at around [3.00], but understandable, too, why the odds aren't shorter on the dominant sprinter in this year's Tour. The slight uphill finish, coupled with the chance he won't even get close enough to contest a sprint finish, make those odds poor. If Kittel wins this stage, it will be the performance of the race so far.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Looking at potential breakaway baroudeurs, it is crucial to give a mention to Steve Cummings, who at around [40.00] is a reasonable bet to change his fortunes on the race so far. Given the flat ending to the stage, though, he would likely need to commit from a long way out, and, as he has been so active in searching for a stage win so far, that might be too much to ask of a tiring body in the third week of a Grand Tour. A better bet may be Pierre Latour, who has been matched at a high of [700.00] at the time of writing, and will be motivated to ride well into Romans-sur-Isere, his hometown.
Preference is for this to go the way of the sprinters, though, although it should favour those who prefer stiffer and more technical finishes. A split bet between Michael Matthews ([14.00]) and Nacer Bouhanni ([40.00]), who won here in Paris-Nice last year, seems the best call.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
Probably little. It will be a nervy, but likely uneventful, day for the General Classification hopefuls. Having said that, there have been few uneventful days in this year's Tour.
*Odds are recommended, based on advertised prices at the time of writing