The Maglia Azzurra competition for the King of the Mountains is a really hard one to call. It's impossible to know who is going to try to win the jersey. Cycling betting analysis & more inside.
King of the Mountains Betting Preview
Getting an early lead in this competition turns the rider in to a points maniac and they can often then go on to try to just pick up points all through the race to win the jersey.
This Giro could be different though with the back-loading of mountain points in the final week of racing, similar to last year's race. Last year it was an incredibly close run thing with Visconti only just beating Landa by 3pts and Kruijswijk by 10pts, Landa coming with a late charge on the final day to move from 4th to 2nd, but Aru winning the stage, and the points denied him the winners jersey...
Like with the Points Jersey, the points are awarded in a scale depending on the toughness of the climb as follows:
The Cima Coppi - this is a special award for the highest point in the Giro every year, this year it is on stage 19 on the Colle della Agnello, where the first 9 over the top win the following points: 40,28,21,15, 10,7,4,2,1. With this climb alone offering such a large amount of points on the second last day of climbing it could completely change the top of the mountains classification. But then the next day there are three first cat climbs out on the course, meaning a breakaway could see someone hoover up 96pts on the very last mountain stage - there's only 7pts available at the finish. The KOM jersey has not been won by the winner of the GC since Pantani back in 1998.
There are 514pts in total available out on the course compared to just 99 at the finish of stages, so the points system works against the GC favourites who tend to let others scrap out the climbs along the stages and just go hard in the final climbs.
Last year's jersey was won by Giovanni Visconti who moved from 6th in the ranking on stage 18 with 51pts to 1st with 125pts after the two Cat 1 climbs out on the course of stage 19. He didn't score a single point on the final mountain stage and Landa almost caught him. Kruijswijk was also in the hunt last year and at one point on the final day it looked like he might take the jersey too.
The sportsbooks have made Mikel Landa the +150 favourite for the race. Stefano Pirazzi was +650 favourite to win it last year after he had won it in 2013 and finished 2nd in 2012. Like in 2014 though he bombed last year, only amassing a paltry 2pts in the whole race!!
Landa at +150- it's like Nibali at +150 for the race. It looks the obvious choice, but I can't back him at that price, especially before the race starts. Given what I said about all the points available out on the course, I can't agree that Landa should be favourite for the jersey - he is not going to be going off on the attack or leading the Sky train over all the Cat 1 climbs, the Cima Coppi etc. And even if he wins every mountain stage finish, it probably still won't be enough points to take the jersey I think. He'll be concentrating on winning the race of course, and it would only be if something happens to his GC chances would we see him try to win this jersey I think.
Of course with a +150 favourite on the betting odds boards, the prices jump up quite quickly for the riders above him. Steven Kruijswijk is available at +800 with Ladbrokes and he seems to be coming good at the right time, with a good strong showing in the Tour de Yorkshire last week. He almost won it last year and looks a good shout to try again this year.
Stefano Pirazzi has been a disaster for his backers the last two years running, but is 3rd favourite again this year at +650. He won a stage in Coppi e Bartali this year but other than that I can't see anything again this year to suggest he is worth a bet.
Alessandro De Marchi looks to me like he is riding really well this year, he seems to have been prominent in quite a few races lately. 4th in the KOM in the Vuelta last year (but mostly down to one stage) and 6th in the KOM in the TDF and winner of the KOM jersey in the Criterium du Dauphiné of 2014, he tends to show up well sometimes in this competition. With BMC not having a GC man, they will be stage hunting and I think he will be on the attack a lot and could rack up lots of points.
Hesjedal could do his late show and start powering on late in the race, which means he could pick up a lot of points on the last two stages if he gets in the right break. He hasn't done anything lately to suggest to me though he will be winning this competition. Vincenzo Nibali and Valverde are similar to Landa, can't see the GC men winning it. Amets Txurruka and Omar Fraile are two more who could do well, but they tend to disappoint more often than not.
Really hard to make a betting pick on someone currently though. There may be another bet that could be made until maybe stage 6 when the first proper climbs come. I'm siding with Kruijswijk and De Marchi though as two who should give us a fair run for our money.
Wait until stage 6 but I think I'll be backing both of them - 1pt each-way on De Marchi at +1400 and 0.5pts each-way on Kruijswijk at +800