On Saturday, July 7th, the 105th Tour de France kicks off its three-week long race spanning over 2,060 miles. A total of 22 teams will compete in this 21 stage race that departs from Noirmoutier on July 7th, and ends on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on July 29th.
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The Tour will start with two flat stages before the cycling squads battle it out in a team time trial. From there, the teams will continue to position their sprinters with massive “lead out trains” to win one of a handful of sprint stages that fill the first week of the tour. Even with two small mountain stages in the first 6 stages of the race, the sprinters will get over them with ease and force a bunch sprint at the end.
After the rest day, the Tour heads to the Alps for three stages including the vaunted Alpe d’Huez. Riders will finish up the second week with a few medium mountain stages, a flat stage and the 2nd rest day. And just like after the first rest day, those riders that are still in the tour will head back into the mountains for two stages including the Cold de Portet.
The final week of the tour will see the surviving riders come out of the mountains with a few flat stages and an individual time trial that will definitely separate the men from the boys. And, of course, the Tour finishes with its traditional sprint and the celebratory scramble onto the Champs-Elysées.
|Stage||Date||TDF Stage Course||Type of Stage|
|1||July 7th||Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte||Flat|
|2||July 8th||Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon||Flat|
|3||July 9th||Cholet to Cholet||Team Time Trial|
|4||July 10th||La Baule to Sarzeau||Flat|
|5||July 11th||Lorient to Quimper||Medium Mountain|
|6||July 12th||Brest to Mûr-de-Bretagne||Medium Mountain|
|7||July 13th||Fougères to Chartres||Flat|
|8||July 14th||Dreux to Amiens||Flat|
|9||July 15th||Arras to Roubaix||Flat|
|July 16th||Rest Day|
|10||July 17th||Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand||High Mountain|
|11||July 18th||Albertville to La Rosière||High Mountain|
|12||July 19th||Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez||High Mountain|
|13||July 20th||Le Bourg-d’Oisans to Valence||Flat|
|14||July 21st||Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende||Medium Mountain|
|15||July 22nd||Millau to Carcassonne||Medium Mountain|
|July 23rd||Rest Day|
|16||July 24th||Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon||High Mountain|
|17||July 25th||Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan||High Mountain|
|18||July 26th||Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau||Flat|
|19||July 27th||Lourdes to Laruns||High Mountain|
|20||July 28th||Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette||Individual Time Trial|
|21||July 29th||Houilles to Paris and the Champs-Élysées||Flat|
In total, this year’s tour will consist of:
The 2018 TDF will also feature some of the following challenges:
With over 170 riders, the following is a list of the favorites to win the 105th Tour de France. Odds are courtesy of Betway:
In reality, the following competitors are the top three cyclists in this grand tour and could all finish on the podium in Paris by the end of the three-week long race:
The 4-time Tour de France winner is on the hunt for his record tying 5th TDF win. Obviously, this doesn’t include Lance Armstrong’s wins. Nevertheless, Froome is a machine with a unique pedaling style and an unmatched racing endurance. Froome is not only great in the mountains, but he’s also one of the best time trialists. Additionally, he will once again captain Team Sky who has been the best team in the Tour de France over the last few years.
Froome has won 3 straight TDFs, 4 out of the last 5, and also has a 2nd place finish in 2012 behind teammate Bradley Wiggins. In reality, Froome could’ve won 2012’s TDF as he was stronger than Wiggins, but his duty was to lead his captain to the overall victory. In 2014, Froome crashed out and opened the door for Vincenzo Nibali to win the race.
Coming into this year’s TDF, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding Froome over a “failed” test last year. After a great deal of tension, public outcries, and unnecessary accusations, the sport’s legal process played out and Froome was cleared in time to compete in the Tour. For anyone wondering how his form is, Froome and Team Sky won the Giro d’Italia last month. He’s ready for this year’s tour and he’s probably even more motivated due to everyone questioning his integrity.
If there’s one rider who has the chops to take on Froome, it’s Richie Porte. The former Team Sky rider left the squad two years ago due to his ambitions of winning a TDF. Porte can hang with anyone on the climbs and he’s a solid time trialist. Last year, Porte crashed out in very dramatic fashion. If he can survive this year’s tour, and not have one of his meltdown stages, Porte is the man to challenge Froome all the way to Paris. Coming into this race, Porte has looked good in 2018 as he’s placed well in the races that he’s entered so far, including a win at the Tour de Suisse.
For the last few years, we’ve heard the name of Quintana as being the biggest threat to dethroning Froome. Unfortunately for Quintana and Team Movistar, the 28-year old Colombian finished in 12th place last year after cracking in the mountains. Quintana seems to be in good form heading into this year’s TDF as he did finish 3rd in the Tour de Suisse.
Despite his inability to defeat Froome, Quintana has finished on the podium in three out of the four tours that he’s finished. He also won the white jersey twice (2013, 2015) and the polka dot jersey once in 2013. Quintana will have a very strong team this year. However, Team Movistar isn’t committing fully to Quintana as the leader for this tour. In fact, they’re going with a 3-pronged approach as teammates Mikel Landa (+1000) and Alejandro Valverde (+2500) are also being factored into the overall GC equation.
Before Quintana can challenge Froome this year, he’s going to need to prove that he’s the best on his team. The only way to do that is to stay out of trouble in the early stages, stay on the wheel of Froome, and to conquer the high mountains.
Romain Bardet (+1600) is France’s top hope for this year’s tour. Not only will he be riding to challenge for the yellow jersey, but he will also be riding for his country. Bardet finished in third place last year, which followed a 2nd place finish back in 2016. He’s a great rider in the mountains, but the 27-year old is terrible in time trials. Bardet has completed 5 tours and has won at least one stage in the last three TDFs.
With that said, I’m surprised that Bardet is below some of the other favorites as I believe he will contend for the podium again this year. I believe Romain Bardet provides the best betting value on the board and I actually like him better than Porte and Quintana.
Rigoberto Uran (+2500) is my pick as the longshot to win the 2018 Tour de France. I was very surprised to see Uran so low on the list of favorites. Do the oddsmakers forget that Uran finished 2nd last year to Froome?
Uran surprised everyone with his ability to hang in the mountains and secure a 2nd place finish. He took a stage last year and has finished all 4 tours that he’s competed in. This year, his team is stronger and they’re coming to the tour with one mission – to help Uran win the race. At +2500 odds, Uran is the only long shot with any chance of even placing on the podium, let alone challenge Froome for an overall TDF victory.
|Year||TDF #||Tour de France Winner|
The following odds are for the Green Jersey which represents the Points Classification:
Welcome back Peter Sagan. Last year, the Tour disqualified him from the race after a physical encounter with Mark Cavendish as they were racing for a stage win. The officials deemed that Sagan’s actions were illegal. In my opinion, and shared by many others including Cavendish, Sagan getting suspended was a joke.
Sagan is arguably the most talented cyclist in the world. If these grand tours didn’t have high mountains, Peter would win every year. He would’ve won the green jersey last year if he wasn’t disqualified.
Peter is a heavy favorite this year as he seeks his 6th green jersey competition win, tying him with the great Erik Zabel for the most green jerseys competition wins in the history of the TDF.
Michael Matthews (+1400) won the competition last year, largely because Sagan was absent. But, he still has enough talent to be a threat again this year and he offers some solid value. Like Sagan, Matthews can stay up there with the sprinters and survive some of the higher climbs. Also like Sagan, he doesn’t struggle with rolling or medium hills, which makes him a strong candidate to win a stage or two. Both Matthews and Sagan should be able to stay within striking distance on the bunch sprints, collect some points along the early portions of stages, and win at least one of the smaller rolling hill finishes,
Mark Cavendish (+2200) will go down as one of the best sprinters of all-time and one of the greatest Grand Tour stage winners of all-time. Currently, Cavendish has 30 stage wins in the Tour de France, which is just 4 short of the record held by the legend – Eddy Merckx. He also has 48 Grand Tour stage wins in his career. Cavendish won the green jersey in 2011 before Sagan came on the scene. If the “Manx missile” can get a few sprint wins this year, and there are several sprint stages, then he could be in the mix for this jersey competition.
|Year||TDF #||Tour de France Green Jersey Winner|
The polka dot jersey is for the best rider in the mountains. Whoever wins this jersey is often dubbed the “king of the mountains.” The following riders are the odds on favorite to win the polka dot jersey:
Warren Barguil (+250) is the odds on favorite to win this competition for a few key reasons. The first reason is that Barguil is a great climber. The second reason, Barguil dominated the polka dot jersey competition last year as he doubled up the 2nd place finisher 169 points to 80 points. Barguil also finished 10th overall in the General Classification. But, the most significant reason why he’s the favorite this year is because Warren has already declared that he’s here to win this jersey. Barguil isn’t focusing on winning the yellow jersey, although he would shift gears if the opportunity presented itself. With that said, Warren Barguil is only focused on becoming the King of the Mountain for the second straight year.
Rafal Majka at +900 provides us with some great value in this jersey competition. The former 2-time winner looks to be in good form as he’s finished 6th or better in the Abu Dhabi Tour, Tour of California, and Tour of Slovenia. He’s on team Bora-Hansgrohe with Peter Sagan who will be going after the Green Jersey. The team will split efforts for each rider’s quest depending on the stage. But, look for Majka to have some freedom in trying to score his 4th career mountain stage win in the Tour and fight for his 3rd polka dot jersey.
Chris Froome (+2900) is an excellent candidate to be a longshot winner in this jersey competition. Froome won the polka dot jersey in 2015, in addition to winning the yellow jersey competition. This year’s tour features 3 summit finishes and plenty of high climbing action that could keep Froome near the top of this jersey’s standings.
|Year||TDF #||Tour de France Polka Dot Jersey Winner|
The white jersey represents the best young rider of the Tour. This jersey is given out to the highest placed rider under the age of 26. The following is the list of riders who are odds on favorite to win the white jersey:
|Year||TDF #||Tour de France White Jersey Winner|
|2012||99||Tejay van Garderen|
More than likely, this jersey’s competition will come down to two riders: Latour and Bernal. There really aren’t many other riders with a shot at conquering these two cyclists.
Latour has squeaked by Bernal as the odds on favorite to win this competition. But, as you can see, it’s not by much. The 24-year old Frenchman, will certainly have the entire country rooting for him to succeed. Latour will be one of Bardet’s top teammates, especially in the mountains. This should help Latour gain a lot of time on the competition. And, if Bardet fails, cracks or crashes out of the TDF then Latour would become Ag2R’s captain.
Coming into this race, Pierre-Roger is heating up as he’s raced really well in 2018. Latour won the French National time trials and finished 7th in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Last year, Pierre-Roger finished 29th in his first TDF and 6th in the white jersey competition. Look for this young cyclist to make some noise in the 105th TDF.
Bernal is quite possibly the most exciting young rider to start this year’s tour. At 21-years old, the Colombian might just be Team Sky’s secret weapon. In fact, some pundits and diehard fans think Bernal could be Team Sky’s #3 rider and take over as the captain should Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas crash out. Bernal has been riding well in 2018 with a runner up finish at the Tour of Romandie and a solid victory at the Tour of California where he also won two stages in this tour. Bernal is on the best team in the TDF and it will keep him near the top of this competition.
Marc Soler (+750) has been called the next Alberto Contador by local Spanish reporters and fans. He challenged Contador last year in the Volta a Catalunya and has already put together a strong 2018, highlighted with a win of the Paris-Nice stage race. At 24-years old, Soler has more experience than Bernal, but Soler will be called upon to support Movistar’s trio of Valverde, Quintana and Landa. With that said, he’s on a strong team and could find himself high in the white jersey standings due to his effort with supporting the three-headed monster.
The 2018 Tour de France opens up with a 201km stage from the island of Normouteir, for the first time since 2011, to Fontenay-le-Comte. This stage is relatively flat, but will pose some challenges to the riders. The biggest challenge will be the crosswinds. With roughly 110 km of riding along the coast of France, the crosswinds could create splits within the peloton. Look for many of the top GC contenders to move to the front in order to avoid losing time to their rivals on the first stage of the race. Any breakaways will be caught before the finish line and you can expect it to be a thrilling bunch sprint finish. Knowing that this stage should be for the sprinters, oddsmakers have most of the top sprinters as the odds on favorite to win in Fontenay-le-Comte. The following odds are courtesy of Betway:
As mentioned, since this will most likely end up as a bunch sprint finish, the following sprinters are considered the favorites to win Stage 1:
This will be Dylan’s third Tour de France, which gives him an experience advantage over the tour’s other young gun – Gaviria. So far, Dylan Groenewegen has won a handful of stages across six different races including Tour of Slovenia and Paris-Nice. Perhaps, the biggest reason why LottoNL-Jumbo’s young sprinter is tied as the favorite is because he won on the famed Champs-Élysées last year.
Gaviria is a 23-year cyclist who, along with Groenewegen, represents the new generation of sprinters. He’s the main star of Quick-Step and is becoming a trendy pick for this tour’s surprise star. The Colombian won 4 stages in last year’s Giro d’Italia, but will be competing in his first ever Tour de France.
When Kittel is on fire, nobody can beat him. Last year, he won 5 stages at the Tour de France and proved to be the top sprinter in the tour. This year, he will be one of the favorites for each sprint stage, but there is some cause for concern over his 2018 season to date. Kittel is riding with a new lead out train that has posed some challenges this year, which is evident by only winning two races so far. Last year at this time, Kittel had nine wins heading into the TDF.
Arnaud Demare (+800) provides some fantastic betting value and seems to be overlooked when talking about this year’s sprinters. Last year, Demare was just as fast as anyone else in the TDF. Unfortunately, his team was unable to really time the lead out perfectly. Although he hasn’t had as many wins heading into the TDF as he did at this time last year, Demare did prove to be too much for Gaviria and Sagan during the penultimate stage in the Tour de Suisse. If his team can get that lead out train firing on all cylinders, then Demare could contend for the win in Stage 1 of the TDF.
Mark Cavendish (+1200) has long been one of my favorite cyclists and I, along with many others, am excited to see him back in this year’s tour. Hopefully, he will be able to survive the entire TDF and contend for many stage wins. His odds aren’t that terrible, but with so many sprinters involved in this year’s tour, it’s hard to imagine anyone else with higher odds winning the stage. So, Cavendish is my longshot pick for the opening stage of the TDF.
As a longtime fan of this race, I’m extremely excited to watch the 2018 Tour de France. I believe it’s going to be an incredible race with plenty of real-life stories that make for dramatic, compelling television. Chris Froome made me a fan of his back in 2012, when he could’ve left Wiggins behind, but faithfully led his captain to victory. Ever since then, I have rooted for him to win each year. I believe Froome will come into the 2018 TDF and put his stamp on it. With all of the accusations and his name being dragged through the mud, Froome will set out to win at least one, if not multiple stages, this year.
I expect Froome to dominate in the mountains and thrash his rivals in the individual time trial. In my humble opinion, this TDF is Froome’s to lose.
As long as Peter Sagan is in the race, he will win the green jersey. With all of the changes to the point system, it now favors riders who are more than just a pure sprinter. In fact, just read Mark Cavendish’s words about the green jersey, according to SportingNews.com:
“The green jersey has not been in my thinking for a few years now. The points system has changed now, and for my personal goals it didn’t work when a certain rider named Peter Sagan came along. He [Sagan] is able to get over one climb at the front and then he is away from us. No sprinter goes for the sprinter’s jersey now.”
Speaking of Cavendish, I’m picking him to win Stage 1 of the TDF. Call it a sentimental pick, but I feel that Cavendish will have the experience and the lead out train to put him in the best position to win this stage. Watch out for Kittel if his lead out train has worked out their misfires.
The King of the Mountains will most likely come down to Barguil, De Gendt, and Majka. Unlike the other two riders, Barguil is free to go after this jersey and will do so with a fury. I believe he will outlast the other two riders when the tour is all said and done. Warren will win the polka dot jersey for the second year in a row.
Lastly, the white jersey will be a fun competition to watch. It’s going to come down to Latour and Bernal. It’s clear that Bernal is on the better team, but he will be in the third seat at best. He’ll be used up more to help Froome win the yellow jersey and his 5th TDF. Latour will set out to help Bardet, but he’s the team’s #2 rider and should last longer in the mountains than Bernal who could be used up sooner when Team Sky is trying to set a killer tempo. Also, Latour has more TDF experience than Bernal. I’m going with the Frenchman to win this jersey competition for his country.
Remember, we can make our bets and predictions, but what makes the Tour de France so exciting is that any rider can crash out or crack on any given stage and their hopes of winning a jersey competition, and your bets, will be destroyed.
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