Erratic sprinting form from all the fastmen has led to a compressed market, writes Jack Houghton, where the value is to avoid the favourites.
"Pedersen was unlucky on Stage 1, and although he's been quieter since, a win wouldn't be unexpected..."
What's the stage like?
It's one for the sprint teams to chase down the breakaway, and with the Pyrenees coming next, they'll be keen to get it right.
Another short stage - typical of this year's Tour - at 168km, there are only three categorised climbs, and none of them of any note. So, provided there are no unexpected cross winds (the forecast is for it to be hot and relatively still), a bunch finish is almost guaranteed, on an uncomplicated run-in.
Who are the favourites?
Sam Bennett ([4.30]), who is raising his profile by targeting the Green Jersey, has been ever-present in sprint finishes on this year's Tour, but always seems lacking when it comes to winning one. This might change, but perhaps his increased focus on intermediate sprints will mean he continues to be found wanting at stage-end.
Cees Bol ([7.00]) has promised much this Tour, but he seems reliant on his team to deliver him late, lacking the surfing-the-wheels skill that is needed to win bunch sprints these days. His palmares is spectacularly bare for someone with so much talent - especially at the top level - and whilst it would be no great surprise to see him win, those odds are too short.
Which leaves Wout Van Aert ([9.00]) and Mads Pedersen (9.00) amongst the market leaders. In winning Stage 5, Van Aert partially debunked the view that, at this level, he would need a finish to kick-up significantly to be able to win it, but those odds still look short given just how straightforward the run-in is here.
Which leaves Pedersen as the value choice of this bunch. The World Champion was unlucky on Stage 1, and although he's been quieter since, a win wouldn't be unexpected.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Given the changing fortunes of the sprinters, though, the real value likely lies outside that compressed market top-end. Lower down, Peter Sagan ([15.00]) and Alexander Kristoff ([22.00]) can't be discounted, and Giacomo Nizzolo ([13.00]) has been as consistent as many of those at shorter odds.
A small split-stake bet on Pedersen and Nizzolo is the call.
What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?
Peter Sagan now finds himself second favourite at [2.38] for the Green Jersey of the Points Classification. New favourite, Sam Bennett ([1.90]), will look to further extend his lead at both the intermediate and final sprint here. In interviews, Sagan has seemed his usual laconic, relaxed self about his chances, but whether this is confidence, or a lack of motivation, is unclear.
Calamity aside, it will be a quiet day for the other jerseys.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Giacomo Nizzolo @ [13.00]
Back Mads Pedersen @ [9.00]