Arguably the most gruelling sporting event in the world gets underway on Saturday as 198 riders spread over 22 teams do battle across France for the honour of the yellow jersey and claiming cycling’s ultimate prize.
Now in its 113th year, the Tour de France is one of those events that gets everyone talking even if they have no interested in cycling, for three weeks everyone in the office becomes a cycling expert and it is no surprise that the roads tend to get a little busier with bicycles on the daily commute to work.
Four out of the last five winners have been British with Chris Froome the defending champion as he targets a third straight tour victory with his Team Sky.
Unsurprisingly, Froome will start the Tour as favourite once again at 6/5 with us, however, there are concerns over whether Froome is fully prepared for the three-week assault.
In each of his previous Tour De France wins, Froome has been in imperious form but this season he is without a win altogether and could only manage fourth at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
However, you don’t win a Tour de France by yourself and Froome has the strongest support team in the pack with riders such as Geraint Thomas, Paris-Nice winner Sergio Henao and Milan-San Remo winner Michal Kwiatkowski to back him up, Froome is still in a strong position.
If Froome fails to win the Tour, then his former team-mate Ritchie Porte is likely to be the next in line.
The Tasmanian Devil is eager to become the master after serving as Froome’s apprentice and has had some impressive results of late, such as finishing runner-up at Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month.
If Porte can handle the pressure, then his price of 9/5 to get the job done makes a tempting prospect.
34-year-old and two-time tour winner Alberto Contador is a house-hold name who appears to be quietly getting on with his business out of the spotlight for once.
This tour may prove to be Contador’s last chance of making it a third Tour De France win with question marks over Chris Froome’s form and Ritchie Porte’s ability to keep his head.
The race looks wide open and the experience of Contador means you cannot write the Spaniard out of the equation.
Especially when the 2007 and 2009 champ is on at 14/1 with us to claim the yellow jersey. During that Tour win in 2009, Contador was simply unbeatable and the team Trek–Segafredo rider will be well aware that he will never get a better chance to add to his tour tally.
Colombian Nairo Quintana has been spent the last few years as the bridesmaid and never the bride after making finishing on the podium behind Froome a bit of a habit.
The team Movistar rider rode the Giro D’Italia in May and it remains to be seen how strong he will perform in France.
At 25/4, Quintana represents value to become the bride in France for the first time in his career.