Chris Froome favourite for Tour de France
Miles Crosby | July 4, 2015
Following the highly successful Yorkshire-hosted start to last year’s Tour de France, the 2015 edition will start in the Netherlands before looping around the mountains and flatlands of France. The gruelling 102nd running of the race will cover 2,088 miles over 21 stages, testing the best cyclists in the world to the limit.
This edition of the Tour will be one for the climbers, as the route will have five key days in the mountains, three in the Pyrenees and two in the Alps. The penultimate stage will end atop the famous Alpe d’Huez climb, one of cycling’s most famous mountaintop finishes and potentially the site of thrilling final struggle for the yellow jersey.
Four riders most likely to be fighting it out on Alpe d’Huez are Britain’s Chris Froome, Italian and incumbent champion Vincenzo Nibali, Spaniard Alberto Contador and Colombian Nairo Quintana. Of these, Froome is the current favourite with Coral at 2/1.
The Kenyan-born rider recently won the Criterium du Dauphine, a race traditionally used by Tour de France contenders as a warm up for the Tour. Froome dominated the last two stages of the Dauphine, both mountaintop finishes, to not only pull back a one minute and 21 second deficit to Nibali but to finish four-and-a-half minutes ahead of the Italian after he cracked on the second-to-last stage.
Nibali should not be discounted, however; although not on his best form in the Dauphine, he is still the defending Tour de France champion and should he turn up to the Tour on top form he will be a force to be reckoned with. He looked largely unassailable in the 2014 race, and the climb-heavy time-trial light course will suit him well. Nibali sits fourth in the odds at 9/2.
Other key favourites will be Contador and Quintana. Contador is almost unanimously agreed to be the finest grand tour rider of his generation, having won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) in 2008 and 2015, and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) in 2008, 2012, and 2014. He was dominant in the Giro d’Italia in May, despite racing with an dislocated shoulder, and is looking to be the first rider since 1998 to win the Giro and Tour in the same year, but will his efforts in the Italian race leave him tired for the latter? Contador sits third in the odds at 4/1.
The fourth of the main contenders is Quintana. Despite being second in the outright market at 5/2, he is the only one of the four to have never won the Tour de France. He has made the race his major target of this year, however, building his entire 2015 season round the Tour. Quintana also won the 2014 Giro d’Italia, and the Colombian climbing sensation will be looking to make final step to a Tour win.