2010 Tour de France Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/1/2010
The Tour de France, the most grueling sporting event in the world, starts July 3 in Rotterdam. It finishes up 20 stages and 2,234 miles later in Paris on July 25. Like last year it starts out flat, and riders aren't likely to make bold moves or exert themselves until at least the early mountain stage starting in stage eight, and more likely until the four-day trip through the mountains starting in stage 14. It's always a tight race at the top with several riders in the mix, and this year is clearly no exception.
To add to it this year there is some real personal animosity - hatred, really - between two of the top three riders including the defending champion. Here's how the favorites break down and some picks and predictions, with odds from Bodog:
Alberto Contador (8/13) - Contador won it last year, and he's the clear favorite to do so again this year. He is young and fit and obviously in top form - he has wins in three races already. The biggest problem he has this year, though, is that he enters the Tour - a race in which team support is so crucial - without a single rider around him from his wining effort last year. All eight of his teammates bolted his team to join Team Radio Shack with Lance Armstrong. He'll also have a new team leader as the brilliant Johan Bruyneel has gone to Radio Shack as well. Contador seemed to have nothing but disdain for his teammates last year, though, and broke protocol by opening distance from Armstrong late in a stage when he didn't need to, so he won't be bothered by the new faces. It really is his race to lose.
Andy Schleck (5/1) - Schleck, just 25, was second in the Tour last year, and is one of the rising stars of the sport. This year he has focused on his time trials and has shown real improvement on that front to add to his potency in this race. He was the forgotten man in the drama between Contador and Armstrong last year, and that's likely to be even more of the case this time around. I'm not sure that he has the game to win it all if Contador and Armstrong are both at their very best, but he certainly has the capability of picking up the pieces if either of the other two falter, and he'll be well positioned to do so thanks to a talented team around him.
Lance Armstrong (7/1) - Armstrong has officially announced that this is his last Tour, so he will be very motivated to go out with a bang - especially because it will be the only race at the helm of the team he built. Unlike last year there is no question who is the lead rider for Team Radio Shack. Armstrong has a talented and fiercely loyal group of riders supporting him, though some are, like him, a bit long in the tooth. Armstrong hasn't had a great competitive season so far this year, but his last race was by far his best, and he comes into the race with his competitive fire and intensity at full force. He probably doesn't have the physical tools to match up to Contador anymore, but Armstrong is a much smarter rider so he will have a tactical edge in this one. I'm biased by being a big fan, but I sure wouldn't count the old man out. If he weren't going to be competitive then he wouldn't be there.
Bradley Wiggins (18/1) - Wiggins is a bit too much of a one-trick pony to be seen as a legitimate force here. He is a brilliant sprinter and an excellent time trial rider, but in the mountains and the longer stages he just can't keep up. You can't win this race just by sprinting, so unless Wiggins has improved dramatically in the mountains from last year then it seems very unlikely that he will do better than the fourth place finish he put up last year.
Cadel Evans (18/1) - Evans is an intriguing wild card. He was second in the Tour in both 2007 and 2008, but he had a truly terrible race last year and was just 30th. If he can find his lost form then he's a real contender, but if he races like he did last year then he's absolutely irrelevant. He's shown signs of restored form in some of his prep races this year - most notably a fifth in the Giro d'Italia.
Ivan Basso (20/1) - Basso is a controversial figure who could be a major factor. He missed the Tour from 2006-08 because of his involvement in a blood doping scandal, and then skipped last year because of fitness issues. He's back this year, though, and he seems serious - he won the Giro d'Italia. He's a climbing specialist, and this is a nasty course with a lot of climbing needed, so Basso is a live longshot at this price.
Frank Schleck (33/1) - Andy's older brother is a force in this race as well. He was fifth in the Tour last year, and he had an incredibly impressive stage win along the way. He's in solid form this year with a win in the Tour de Suisse. His biggest problem is that he's not the lead rider on his team - his brother is - so he's not likely to get the support needed to win. He's also shown that he is a very good teammate to his brother, so his efforts will likely be focused on getting Andy over the top instead of trying to win himself.
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