Tour De France

Tour de France 2023 Stage 16: Back Bjerg @ 149/1 for time-trial surprise

Wout van Aert at Tour de France
Mountains one day, time trials the next... versatility is Wout van Aert's game

On a hilly time-trial course, writes Jack Houghton, the value bets are not the race favourites

  • Tadej Pogacar (2.789/5) has a better chance Jonas Vingegaard (2.6613/8).

  • Mikkel Bjerg (150.0149/1) can repeat Dauphine surprise.

  • Wout van Aert (9.08/1) is a safe bet on any stage.

What's the stage like?

The only time trial of this year's Tour. 22.4km, and with some significant climbing, this will not suit the usual against-the-clock men.

An early, uncategorised climb up the Cote de la Cascade Couer sees slopes rising to an 8% gradient, before the category two Cote de Domancy in the last quarter, where the road kicks-up as steep as 15%

Many riders will misjudge their efforts here.

Who are the favourites?

Again, Jonas Vingegaard (2.6613/8) and Tadej Pogacar (2.789/5), and with good reason: Vingegaard has finished on the podium in three of the four Tour time-trials he has contested, whereas Pogacar has managed four out of five, including two wins.

Vingegaard's slight advantage in the betting is probably explained by his performance on Stage 20 in 2022, where he was eight seconds better than Pogacar on not dissimilar terrain.

That course was nearly double the length of this, though. Pogacar's record suggests he is better when more explosivity is needed, and he's the better bet of the pair to finish ahead here, although not one I'll be supporting at the odds.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

The likes of Simon Yates (80.079/1), Pello Bilbao (200.0199/1) and Mattias Skjelmose (60.059/1) are all capable of putting in a fast time on this climbers' course and cannot be discounted.

Preference, though, is for the pairing of Mikkel Bjerg (150.0149/1) and Wout van Aert (9.08/1). Bjerg was the surprise winner of the time trial at the Dauphine, a course that called upon a similar skillset to this one. Vingegaard was behind him that day, making Bjerg's odds look ridiculously generous.

Back Mikkel Bjerg @ 150.0149/1 for Stage 16

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Van Aert, meanwhile, as testimony to his versatility - he was very nearly a breakaway mountain winner on Stage 15 - will relish this time trial course. In five time-trials at the Tour, he has won two, and never finished worse than 4th, with both his victories coming when some climbing was required.

Back Wout van Aert @ 9.08/1 for Stage 16

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How will it affect the overall markets?

Given so little seems to separate Vingegaard and Pogacar in the mountains, it is likely this time trial will be pivotal in deciding the destiny of this year's Yellow Jersey. Having preferred Vingegaard before the Tour, weighing in on Pogacar to turn things to his advantage now seems the value call.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

Recommended bets

Jack Houghton's Cycling Tips 2022-23 P&L:

Staked: 113

Returned: 148.9

P/L: +35.9


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