One of the many ways we are going to exploit the betting odds trading for the 2015 Tour de France is with Jersey props. Here we focus on the King of the Mountains jersey or the Polka-dot jersey as it's also known.
2015 Tour de France Betting Market
The Tour de France King of the Mountains jersey or the Polka-dot jersey as it's also known, is one of the most desired and keenly fought competitions in cycling. It's the second oldest classification awarded in the TDF, first introduced in 1933. There was no jersey awarded to the winner though until 1975 when a white jersey with red polka dots was awarded for the first time and was won by Lucien Van Impe.
The points for the King of the Mountains is scored based on the category of climb that they go over, from the lowest Category 4, to the highest HC or 'Haute Category' climbs. The first over a HC climb scores 25 points, then 20,16,14,12,10 and so on down to 2pts for 10th. A Cat 1 climb scores 10pts for the first over, down to 1pt for 6th. If the stage finishes on a categorised climb the points are doubled, so that's a whopping 50pts are on offer for winning the stage at Alpe d’Huez for example.
This is always a very difficult market to bet on - you don't know who is targeting the jersey at the start and it could be any of about 20 or 30 guys who could have designs on it. It could be decided by a stage or two when a breakaway rider mops up loads of points and then does what he can to defend it over the remaining stages. Or it could come down to a GC man like Quintana just racking up point after point while taking stage victories, especially on the summit finishes where double points are awarded - stages like 10, 12, 19 and 20 will have a big bearing on deciding who inherits the jersey from Rafal Majka.
Nairo Quintana – 5/1 Best Price
In 2013 he won the TDF KOM jersey thanks to consistent finishing, but in particular thanks to the penultimate stage to La Semnoz which he won. The key to this jersey this year could well be winning the big mountain finish stages with 50 points on offer at the summit finish. If Quintana wants to win this race he is more than likely to have to either win, or finish very high up on the key mountain stages. There may be some outside the top GC guys who will go after the jersey and may wear it for a while as they nab points here and there on easier stages, but it's unlikely that they might be winning top points on the big GC stages.
Like in 2013 though, the final mountain stage to Alpe d'Huez could be crucial to Quintana's hopes for the overall and indeed the KOM jersey. It's hard to know for sure what sort of condition Quintana will be in when he comes back to Europe, or indeed whether he will even survive the first week with the potential chaos and crashes, particularly on the cobbled stage 4 if it's wet. But we've seen before that when Quintana turns up, he is generally very fit and strong and very hard to beat.
I think he may well survive better than others on the opening week. We could see the first salvos fired with the first summit finish on stage 10 and I think he has a big chance of winning the jersey as I expect him to be up there on all the big mountain stages. If he doesn't win the overall he may well take home the consolation prize of the KOM jersey. I think he is a good bet at 5/1 to win the Polka Dot Jersey but back him each-way with Coral at 5/1, you should make a small profit at the very least I think.
Alberto Contador - 12/1 Best Price
Contador is of course going for the big double after landing the Giro in May and if he comes away from this race with the KOM jersey but not the Yellow Jersey it will be seen as a failure. Contador has never won the KOM jersey in the TDF, the Vuelta, the Giro or incredibly in any stage race he has ever raced in as a professional, a pretty mind-boggling fact given how great a climber he is. But he just doesn't seem interested in it at all. He just seems to ignore them completely when focused on the GC goals. I think though given how he will be solely focused on the GC he is not a great winner candidate at 12/1.
Chris Froome - 10/1 Best Price
Another fascinating fact similar to Contador's, Froome has neven won the KOM in a stage race either. And his record at finishing in the top 3 is worse than Contador's, standing at just 6 from 19 starts (31% Vs Contador's 39% and Quintana's 43%), but in more recent years he is looking at a 50% strike rate with 6 podiums out of 12 since 2013.
Like Contador, he doesn't seem to have a great love for the competition, for him and Sky it's all about one jersey - yellow. He is highly likely I think though to finish in the top if he can spin his way to several stage victories on the hardest mountain finishes, but again, backing him at 3/4 to finish in the first three with a strike rate of 31% isn't a great strategy.
Joaquim Rodriguez - 18/1 Best Price
We may see a different Rodriguez at the Tour, but to me he has lost the zip and the verve to go launching himself off the front on hard mountain finishes, stealing stages and the KOM points. Here's a question for you - how many KOM jerseys has Rodriguez won in his career? Just one. And that was back in the Vuelta of 2005. And his strike rate of Top 3 finishes is just 6 from 28, or just a 21% strike rate. I can't see him winning this to be honest and I don't think he'll make the top 3. A terrible sports pick at 19/1.
Pierre Rolland - 9/1 Best Price
Rolland has been backed all this week from 14/1 in to as short as 6/1 and to be honest I'm not sure why he's being backed so much. Actually I do in one sense, the fact that Europcar are pulling their sponsorship at the end of the season and the team are desperate for a good result in this race. The KOM jersey is a big prize to a French team, especially as they have no chance of winning the GC.. But being honest, I think he is not good enough.
We'll see some heroic breaks probably and he'll probably wear the jersey at some point, but when it comes to the really hard, key stages, I don't think he'll be good enough to stay with the big guys. He might make the top 3, but I’m not risking it on him, he can be flakey at times.
Thibaut Pinot - 22/1 Best Price
Thibaut Pinot stormed to victory in stage 5 of the Tour De Suisse, and caused a bit of a tumble in his TDF betting odds in the process. I don't think he'll be going for this jersey though and have no interest in backing him with my sports picks, although he did look good at the finish of that brutal climb.
Rafal Majka - 40/1 Best Price
Winner of the mountains jersey in 2014, this was of course as a result of Contador crashing out and freeing him up to ride his own race. It was on stage 13,14 and 17 where he took a 2nd place, 1st and 1st on three summit finishes where he did the damage and overtook Rodriguez. He even got some help from passing motorbikes at one point.
He's going to be looking after Contador all during this Tour though and despite all his noise about how good he is going and how he's going to blow things apart in the TDF when he hits the front, he didn't exactly set the world on fire on the first big climbing test at the TDS. He failed to go with the leaders and was even beaten by Tom Dumoulin who finished 3" ahead of him in 11th place. The only way I think he will get involved this year though is if something happens to Contador again, and it's unlikely, so no bet.
Check out Tour de France Green Jersey Props, too
Julian Arredondo - 16/1 Best Price
Now here's a man with a 70% strike rate when it comes to finishing in the top 3 in the KOM Competition in stage races he has finished, and a 40% win record. To be fair though, all bar the Giro in 2014 were in small races like Tour de Kumano and Tour of Japan! When he did win the KOM Jersey in the Giro though, it was mostly down to one stage win when he was in a break all day and picked up 78pts to move him well clear of his closest rival Dario Cataldo.
He hasn't had a very good season so far this year but looked lively when taking 3rd place on stage 2 of the TDS behind Durasek and Dani Moreno. But then on the first big climbing test he failed miserably, coming in over 11 mins down. That sort of form will not help him win his jersey. Also, I have had word that he is going to be riding in support of Mollema and not targeting the jersey, but could go stage hunting at some point. No bet for the jersey even if he has been backed from 25/1 in to 16/1 best price and as short as a ridiculous 8/1 at various online sportsbooks.
It's very possible that someone not listed above comes and wins this jersey. There are plenty good climbers in the race and if they can plan their strategy right they could get enough points to hold off the GC rush. Rui Costa is climbing well but I can't see him targeting this; Wilco Kelderman isn't good enough to win the big stages and will be seen as being too dangerous early in the race to let him go off in breaks.
One that did catch my eye though was Stefan Kruiswijk at 40/1 with Boylesports who are offering 4 places (1/5 the odds). He rode extremely well in the Giro, deliberately targeting the KOM jersey and only losing out by 10pts to Giovanni Visconti. He had led the competition up until the 19th stage, but Visconti got in the break of the day and hoovered up enough points to win him the jersey.
LottoNL-Jumbo don't really have a man for the top of the GC, they could well focus all their efforts on a prize like this instead and I think Kruiswijk will be active and get in lots of breaks again. At 40/1 betting odds he could be the lively outsider we're looking for.