Tour de France preview - Who’s your favourite?
Posted on June 22, 2012 - 12:00am by Mike Smith
The 99th Tour de France takes place in just over a week’s time, where 22 teams and 180 riders compete for the ultimate prize in cycling: the yellow jersey.
With the absence of 2010 winner Andy Schleck, who had to withdraw from this year’s race because of injury, and a disqualified Alberto Contador who tested positive for banned substances, the number one spot is a huge talking point amongst cycling fans.
There has been strong support for British cyclist Bradley Wiggins, with bookmakers odds standing at 5/4 for him to win the Tour de France. Fresh from his spectacular double win at Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine (the first person since Eddy Merckx to do so), the 27-year-old isn’t at all fazed by the mounting pressure.
Wiggins says: "Cadel, for me, is the favourite and remains the man to beat. As a person I don't know him at all, only from racing, but he seems incredibly focused and professional at what he does and incredibly good at getting ready for the Tour de France.”
"I don't see my being labelled favourite as pressure. My recent performances have spoken volumes and I am embracing being favourite because it may never happen again. I'm just going to continue what I have been doing since we rolled out at Paris-Nice in March. There is no reason to suppose that when we roll down the ramps in Liège for the prologue that it won't continue like that, that it will all fall apart.”
His biggest contender is also his biggest motivation, he says, as he hopes to follow in the footsteps of 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, and become the first Brit to win the prestigious yellow jersey.
While the predictions vary, the bookmakers clear favourite to win is Wiggins, although without Schleck the race will prove much more difficult for Team Sky. In second place is Cadel Evans with odds of 9/4, followed by Denis Menchov at 18/1, Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen Van Den Broeck both at 20/1.
Wiggins and Evans come in again as highest favoured to finish within the top 10 at odds of 1/8, closely followed by Broeck at 1/4, Samuel Sanchez at 4/9 and Alejandro Valerde at 8/15.
A fierce competition to say the least, only two of the riders tipped by book makers appear on the IG Pro Cycling Index which rank what experts believe to be the best cyclists in the world.
Wiggins is up one place at number 4, with Evans down 2 at number 6. So far this looks to be a good indication of how this year’s Tour de France will pan out, but the jury is still out and right now it’s anyone’s game.