2013 Tour de France Predictions and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 6/25/2013
The 2013 edition of the Tour de France — the 100th anniversary of the race — kicks off this weekend. The race starts off in Corsica, though not with the time trial that is most typically seen first. From there the race winds 2,162 miles over 21 stages before a rare nighttime finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. It is an absolutely punishing route this year with more mountains and more climbing than normal — and that’s saying something. Just watching a cyclist ride up the famed Alpe-d’Huez once is enough to make you ache. In stage 18 the riders will be climbing it twice. There are two very nasty uphill finishes, too — up Ax-3-Domaines in the Pyrenees in Stage 8 and on the brutal Mont Ventoux in Stage 15. If you can’t climb at a very elite level then you don’t stand a chance this year.
A huge shadow will darken the race this year — drugs. This is the first edition of the race since Lance Armstrong, the man who did more than anyone to make the race as popular as it is, admitted he was a drug cheat and was stripped of his seven titles. At the Giro d’Italia in May, drugs became an even bigger issue. Three riders, including 2007 Giro winner Danilo di Luca, failed drug tests and were suspended. The cycling world has long since lost all credibility among casual fans on the drug front, but they desperately need a clean and exciting race to start the long ride back.
There is a strong favorite in the race this year, but there are several guys who can win if they are at their best. Here are five top contenders (all odds are from Bovada) along with my 2013 Tour de France predictions:
Chris Froome (20/31)
Froome probably should have won the race last year. He seemed to be the strongest and fastest up the mountains. Cycling is as much about politics as speed, though, and Froome’s Team Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins was the team leader, so Froome had to set him up instead of racing against him. The riders clearly didn’t always get along, but Froome did his job and Wiggins won. Thanks to an injury, though, Wiggins is not back to defend his title. That leaves Froome as the leader and the heavy favorite. He can ride time trials, and he is an outstanding climber. This route is made for him. So much can go wrong that it’s hard to justify odds this low for any rider, but Froome is clearly the one to beat. The biggest thing working against him is that this is his first time in the brightest of spotlights and his first time in a race of this magnitude being the guy who everyone is gunning for. I’d definitely look elsewhere for value.
Alberto Contador (11/4)
Contador is the A-Rod of cycling — immensely talented but even more unlikeable. On paper he is the most likely guy to challenge Froome. He has won the race twice and is an incredible climber. He missed last year’s race thanks to a positive drug test, though. Though he was just a victim of tainted food, he clearly hasn’t looked like himself this year, and you have to wonder if he can ride clean and fast. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him capture his form and win, but I don’t trust him at the price.
Joaquim Rodriguez (18/1)
The Spaniard was second in the Giro and third in the Vuelta a Espana last year, so he can obviously ride big tours. He has only finished the Tour once, though — a seventh in 2010. He’s 34, so age is a slight concern, and his team isn’t as strong as would be ideal. Still, he’s a solid contender who appears under-priced.
Tejay van Garderen (28/1)
This is definitely a gamble because the American isn’t even the leader of his BMC team heading into the race. That honor goes to 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans. Evans is 36 now, though, and this route could be too much for him. If it seems obvious early that Evans is in trouble, then the 24-year-old van Garderen will get the nod to see what he can do. He was the top young rider in the race, and he has a good chance to win a Tour or two before all is said and done. He’s probably a bit young at this point, but he is wildly-talented, and he can climb like crazy, so at this price he’s worth a gamble.
Ryder Hesjedal (66/1)
I can’t overlook the Canadian — especially not when the Canadian is such intriguing value. Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia last year, but then he had a disappointing early crash in the Tour. He returned to defend his Giro title this year, but an infection knocked him out early. That could be a good thing for his Tour chances because it means he is relatively fresh — as long as he has recovered as well as he seems to have. He’s tactically very strong, and though he probably can’t climb with the elite at their best, he is so well rounded and explosive that he won’t get left behind. He also gets stronger as things get tougher, so the huge challenge of this route — especially in the second half -- is an asset for him. Winning would be an upset for him this year, but not nearly as much of one as the odds suggest. That makes this an attractive longshot play.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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