With so many betting markets available for the Tour de France, I've gone through some of the many on offer and picked out some bets that interest me, from a 'yes' and a 'definitely no' standpoint!
2015 Tour de France Betting Market
The Tour de France is the biggest race of the year in terms of the sheer number of markets on offer. No other race is given half as much attention by the bookies in the year, where sometimes we have to make do with a winners' market and not much else.
Generally they don't offer a great deal of value, as they are really venturing in to unchartered territory, most of them are uncomfortable with just offering a market on all the runners in a race with less than a 150% over-round, others sometimes just don't bother at all.
Top 10 Finish
This is a strange market for betting on, in that unless you pick a real wild outsider you are probably going to be betting odds-on, and in some cases, very short odds-on. I'd much rather be the bookie on this market, laying loads of guys at odds-on, knowing not all of them will even make it to Paris, yet alone the top 10. In fact you have to go to the 11th guy on the list, Bauke Mollema before you start to see odds against.
Richie Porte - 7/2
I think he could be one of the ‘domestiques’ that goes well in this Tour, he has a point to prove and will be one of the last men standing in the Froome train on the big stages I think. If he can finally keep it together in a race that lasts longer than a week then he could possibly haul himself in to the top 10. The prologue and the TTT should help him get a jump on some other guys too. Again, like the top ten in the betting, you are taking a punt that he stays in the race, but also that he doesn't do the early pulling and drops away on the big climbs and loses loads of time, but I don't think he will. I think it will be him, Poels and Roche will be the last three and I think he has the desire to prove the doubters wrong with a good performance in this race.
Tour de France Free Pick: 2pts at 7/2 with Betfred
Robert Gesink, Rui Costa, Dan Martin, Laurens Ten Dam
All guys who could possibly sneak in to the top 10, but another guy who interests me a little at a big price is 'Mr Invisible' Haimar Zubeldia. Zubi has an amazing ability to do nothing of note in any race he has ever been in it seems, yet still pulls off high GC results race after race. He has finished 5th, 8th, 4th, 15th, 6th and 8th in the Tour over the years and lots of other top tens in California, the Dauphine, Andalucia etc. It could be a long shot this year with the quality lineup that’s here, but at 8/1 they might be underestimating him.
Tour de France Free Pick: Small bet, 0.5pts at 8/1 with PaddyPower
Rigo Uran is a good climber and a pretty decent Time Triallist also – the prologue and the TTT should give him an early boost. He was a bit sick at the start of the Giro d’Italia and he found himself over a minute further back than he probably should have been after only about 5 stages. He did well in the end, finishing in 14th, but I think this Tour will suit him a lot better and he’s an outside shout for a top 10 placing at a tempting looking 11/2 with Skybet.
Tour de France Free Pick: 1pt win on Uran for the Top 10 at 11/2 with Skybet
If you're pretty convinced that it will be between just two riders, then it might be worth looking at the straight forecast market. For example, if you think it will be Quintana first and Froome second, that forecast is 7/1, just a fraction more than the 13/2 for Froome/Quintana. Froome/Contador is 9/1 whereas Contador/Froome is 12/1. If you fancy Van Garderen to get in the mix, it's 100/1 for Quintana/Van Garderen
I have said elsewhere I think it will be Quintana first and Froome second, so why not add a little bet here on the forecast at 7/1.
Tour de France Free Pick: 1pt on Quintana/Froome at 7/1 with Bet365.
Overall Head to Heads
This is a match-bet for the duration of the Tour, who will finish the higher of the two. If just one rider finishes he is declared the winner of the Match-bet, but if neither finish, the bet is void and you get your money back. Here are some that interested me.
Louis Meintjes (5/6) Vs Brice Feillu (10/11)
Youth Vs Experience.. If I was just to go on their performances this year and in the trajectory that both riders are on then I'd be all over Meintjes. A great little climber, he is going to do very well in the years to come. Feillu is 6 years his senior at 29 and is starting his fifth Tour de France, Meintjes his first. Rather amazingly, looking back to last year, Feillu finished in 16th place on the Tour, ahead of Horner, Nieve, Kangert and Porte. Before that though he finished in 104th in 2013 and 91st in 2012... that's quite the leap... Which Brice will we see this year? The 16th place man or the 104th? If he finishes in the top 16 again, then he wins this, I think Meintjes will be in the 20-40 sort of level. Looking at Feillu's results this year though, I think we could be back to a 50th place + for him and so I'm leaning towards Louis. Let's just hope he makes it all the way to Paris, as Feillu probably will.
Tour de France Free Pick: 1.2pts at 5/6 on Meintjes with Bet365
Chris Froome (8/11) Vs Quintana (6/5)
The big battle - the clash of the favourites. I've made it clear already, I'm a Nairomaniac this Tour and I am backing him to beat Froome here at 6/5 with PaddyPower.
Tour de France Free Pick: 2.5pts win on Quintana at 6/5 with PaddyPower
Joaquim Rodriguez (4/5) Vs Tejay Van Garderen (10/11)
This could be a very interesting battle - can Rodriguez regain the glory days? Will he be able to stick with the favourites to the finish of some of the big stages? Can he match Van Garderen who seems to be climbing better than ever? I am not sure. Purito rode very well in the Dauphiné but TVG rode better! On the last two climbing stages, Purito finished 5th, two great results you could say... but he lost 10" on the first stage and 37" on the second stage to TVG. Ok, he didn't have as much on the line say as TVG on the final climb, but if he was able to go with Froome and Tejay when they attacked, he would have. As it was he was left behind and I think on some of the really long climbs, like the Plateau de Beille, Tejay will have the edge on him and could quickly gain 2 or 3 minutes on him on some of those stages.
Tour de France Free Pick: 2pts win on Tejay at 10/11.
Van Garderen to beat Bardet - 3.5pts at 4/7 with Bet365
Kruiswijk to beat Geniez - 2pts at 8/11 with Bet365
This is a market, as you have probably guessed, on what will be the time difference between the winner and the 2nd place rider. Everything suggests that this race could be a very tightly run affair with not much in between the leaders. The betting reflects that too with 1 minute to 2 minutes and 59" the 6/4 favourite with PaddyPower. Second favourite is 0 to 59" at 13/8 with 3 minutes to 4 minutes and 59" 5/1 and over five minutes 5/1.
The last five winning times are 7'37", 4'20", 3'21", 1'34", 39".. so the average for the last five years has been around 3 and a half minutes. I think it will be slightly tighter than that this year and I think it will be in the 1-3 minute mark so that looks like a bet to me.
Tour de France Free Pick: 2pts on 1 minute to 2 minute 59" at 6/4 with PaddyPower.
Number of Finishers
This is always an interesting market to me: how many riders will make it to Paris? The line seems to be mainly settled around 163.5 finishers, which is around the average number of finishers expected over many years. Last year it was 164, 2013 was 169, 2012 was 153, 2011 was 165, 2010 was 170. If you were betting on unders on each of the last 5 years you'd only have won once, with the average number of finishers coming in at 164.2. But in 2009 it was 153, in 2008 - 143, 2007 was 140, 2006 was a ridiculously low 136 an 2005 was 155. Now you would have won 5 out of five on those years and the average was just 145.4, making the ten-year average 154.8 finishers.
So what is going on here? How can it go from 136 in 2005 to 170 in 2010? That's the equivalent of four teams less finishing in 2005! Of course things like the route, the weather, the nature of the race etc can all play a big part in riders packing it up before the finish, but also there seems to be far more pressure on riders with every passing year to keep pushing and to try to finish the race. I backed this last year at the 163.5 mark expecting a lot of guys dropping out in the first week, and there were quite a few, the riders tumbled and the price tumbled and I think I hedged out at ¼, or something like that, when there were 165 riders left with 3 or 4 stages left. As it turned out there were 164 finishers and so the bet would have lost. This year, the race starts with a chaotic week and finishes with four hard days in the Alps. I am thinking that the odds against of 2.2 on Betfair for less than 163.5 looks like a good value bet, there could be carnage in the first week and a lot could jack it in before the cruel last 4 days in the Alps. This sports pick is only 10/11 with the other bookies, and at least we can trade it on Betfair.
Tour de France Free Pick: 4pts on under 163.5 finishers at 2.2 on Betfair for a trading bet.
Number of Riders Wearing the Yellow Jersey
This is another interesting market as it is your opinion on how various stages will go versus the bookies opinion. For example, I think it could go as follows: Tony Martin or Tom Dum wears yellow after stage 1, lose it on stage 3 to someone else when the likes of Dan Martin or Valverde get a time gap on the Mur, they then lose it on the TTT to someone like Van Garderen who will have been lurking close by after the TT and the Mur. We could see a break in one of the next 4 stages take a big time gap and the yellow, or maybe Quintana or Froome tear it up the La Pierre St Martin climb on stage 10 and take it there. We're already on 4 wearers and only half way in. It's 4/7 that more than 4 riders wear it and as you can see from my guesswork above, I think that's very possible indeed. It is even money there will be more than 5.5 wearers of the Yellow Jersey and I think that just might land as well. I think over 4.5 is money in the bank, over 5.5 could be a bit tighter, but I think it's slightly better chance than the 50:50 that the evens represents.
Tour de France Free Pick: Over 4.5 riders wearing yellow jersey at 4/7