Tour de France 2018: Stage 12: Time for Froome to exert authority
Jack Houghton was on the money yesterday with 25/1 Geraint Thomas landing the stage win and he's playing another Brit on today's iconic stage, albeit at a shorter price...
"And what a stage... 176km of alpine climbing with three super-category climbs, including the iconic Alpe d'Huez as a summit finish..."
What's the stage like?
After a winning [26.00] recommendation on Stage 11, on top of earlier profits from this Tour, we hopefully all go into Stage 12 with some money in the bank to invest with confidence.
And what a stage... 176km of alpine climbing with three super-category climbs, including the iconic Alpe d'Huez as a summit finish.
Typically, it is summit finishes that decide Yellow Jersey competitions, and this stage is one of only three that remain. Whilst it would be wrong to assume that the Tour will be completely settled on Stage 12 (there are plenty of interesting days that remain, culminating in the time trial on the penultimate day), it is almost certain that the 21 hairpin turns of the final climb will be pivotal in deciding the destiny of the Yellow Jersey.
Who are the favourites?
The favourite in all lists, quite rightly, is Chris Froome, at around [3.30], and those odds look value to me. Froome is the pre-eminent alpine rider and, whilst Geraint Thomas and Tom Dumoulin (as predicted) were able to compete on the shallower climbs of Stage 11, they will find their task more difficult here.
If Froome intended to target any stage before the Tour began, it would have been this one, and whilst he will face challenges from old adversaries, it's hard to see past him for a stage win.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
French riders have won on Alpe d'Huez on the last three occasions the Tour has finished at its summit and one of them, Pierre Rolland ([100.00]), is riding this year. However, a more likely candidate for the home nation is Romain Bardet ([24.00]), who has yet to make his mark this year and will be motivated to win here.
Bardet is certainly a possible should Froome falter, as is Nairo Quintana ([12.00]), who attacked and took time out of the Team Sky rider on Stage 20 in 2015, finishing second on the summit finish to Alpe d'Huez on that occasion.
I will focus my punting attentions on Froome solely, but a more conservative strategy would be to split your stake between all three, using Froome as a banker, but hoping for a bigger pay-out from one of the other two.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
If Stage 11 promised to bring clarity to the General Classification, then Stage 12 promises to narrow our focus further. Of special interest is how Team Sky will now operate. I've been working under the assumption that the advertised co-leadership is a tactical ruse, and that Geraint Thomas has never been under any illusion as to his hopes of targeting victory. He has been there, in my view, as a way of diverting attention away from Froome and, now that he has the Yellow Jersey, will be even more useful in doing so, as rival teams will have to follow his every move. This stage should demonstrate whether my assumption is accurate or not.
Elsewhere, Latour continues to lead the Young Rider Classification ahead of Martin, and Team Sky's Egan Bernal, who claimed back over a minute on Stage 11. Quite why Bernal is as short as [3.15] though is hard to fathom: he needs to make up another seven-and-a-half minutes on his rivals and there just might not be enough opportunities for him to do so. I laid him at the start of the Tour at shorter odds than he is now, but wouldn't put anyone off opposing him again. Talented as he is, it's a big ask when team responsibilities may trump personal targets.
In the King of the Mountains competition, Julian Alaphilippe extended his lead on Stage 11, and expect to see him in an early break-away to try and hoover-up points on the early climbs. His odds of around [3.00] to win the polka-dot jersey look about right.
*Odds quoted are correct at the time of writing
Back Chris Froome @ [3.30]