It’s time to go Basque and not look back as the Tour de France starts in Bilbao on Saturday!
All eyes are on the two big favourites: Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, who have won the last three editions between them. Pogacar was dethroned last year and is looking to regain his title despite fracturing a wrist in the spring whilst Jonas Vingegaard looks better than ever.
Add in a host of other top names, including a top-class sprint field with Mark Cavendish looking to make history, and we’re set for a brilliant three weeks.
Here’s the Star Sports preview for this year’s Tour de France!
The route for this year’s Tour de France is one for the climbers, with four summit finishes and eight mountain stages, whilst there’s only one time trial, a 22.4km effort which means there’s the least amount of time trialling since 2015. There’s an action-packed start to proceedings in the Basque country, with stage one featuring the Cote de Vivero and Cote de Pike before an uphill finish in Bilbao that could see the GC favourites involved at the finish.
Stage 2 features the Jaizkibel (from the Eastern side) and a Classica San Sebastian finale, so fireworks could be on the cards whilst we’re into the Pyrenees via the Col de Soudet and then Marie-Blanque from Stage 5, with an Aspin-Tourmalet combo the next day. This is not for the faint-hearted.
Stage Stats 🔢
Potential Breakaway Stages: 10, 12, 19 most likely
Possible Sprint Stages: 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 18, 19 (also potential break), 21
Mountain Stages: 5, 14, 20, 17
Summit Finishes: 6, 9, 13, 15
Time Trials: 16
Overall Contenders 👨
The market is dominated by the winners for the past three years, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. Last year the pair produced a classic duel, with Vinegaard’s epic win at the Col du Granon – where sustained attacks from Jumbo Visma cracked an isolated Pogacar, who conceded three minutes – giving him an advantage that Pogacar could never seriously dig into before he sealed the deal on Hautacam with a stunning victory and a second in the final time trial.
Since then the pair have continued at the top of the sport. Pogacar continues to astound with his versatility, obliterating the competition at Flanders, Amstel and Fleche Wallone after a dominant win at Paris-Nice, when he had Jonas Vingegaard 1:39 behind. Vingegaard bounced back from that below-par effort with a dominant win at Itzulia (beat Mikel Landa by 1:12), and the Dauphine (beat Adam Yates by 2:23), when he was so strong that he started the race leading out team-mate Christophe Laporte to an opening stage win before taking utterly dominant wins on Stage 5 and 7.
Picking between the pair on paper is incredibly hard – there’s a reason why starsports.bet have them as 11/10 joint favourites – and there are different team dynamics this time round, with Primoz Roglic absent after his Giro D’Italia win whilst UAE have bulked up on climbing talent with Mikkel Bjerg, Felix Grossschartner, Rafal Majka, Marc Soler, and Adam Yates (more on him later), the new Slovenian National Champion will be better supported than last year.
However, despite his Slovenian national championship double, it is hard to imagine that his wrist injury – suffered during Liège-Bastogne-Liège – has not affected his preparation, whilst a closer look at head to heads between him and Vingegaard suggest that the Dane may have the upper hand – if only slightly – in the higher peaks that go to high altitude.
He managed to crack Pogacar on Mount Ventoux two years ago before the ascent, and last year didn’t lose any time on Peyragudes despite Brandon McNulty’s incredible effort when Pogacar won an uphill sprint and dominated on Hautacam after the previous efforts had taken their toll on the Slovenian.
Whilst he was well beaten at Paris-Nice when the two clashed this season, it’s possible he went there undercooked after dominating a Gran Camino field that he towered over on his seasonal return, whilst Pogacar was closer to top form as he headed towards an extremely successful spring.
With Vinegaard having targeted this event with laser-like focus, enjoying a perfect preparation that saw his best performance come at the Dauphine last time out, Vinegaard looks ready to defend his title in what should be a titanic battle between two special riders, and he’s favoured over Pogacar in the battle for the yellow jersey.
It’s 14/1 bar the pair, which shows the respect the market has for the two favourites. Assuming the pair stay upright and healthy until Paris then there will be one each/way place open, although Star’s betting market without Betting Without Vingegaard & Pogacar offers plenty of opportunities at 7/2 the field.
Jai Hindley is making his debut at the Tour, having won last year’s Giro D’Italia from Richard Carapaz before a below-par showing when tenth at the Vuelta a Espana, and the Australian climber – has caught the eye with a steady improvement through the year that culminated in his fourth place at the Dauphine last time out.
A surprise second in the 2020 Giro when breaking onto the scene (form that looks much better now considering the subsequent performances of Tao Geoghan Hart and Joao Almeida), Hindley had a difficult second season but bounced back with last year’s Giro win, again coming after a slow and steady season of improvement (finished 13th at Volta Cataluya in final pre-Giro race).
Having skipped his Giro defence in favour of a parcours which suits him perfectly – Hindley is not a strong time trialist compared to his peers – the 27-year-old Australian has a strong climbing core around him in German Champion Emanuel Buchmann, Patrick Konrad and Sergio Higuita, and if his record is anything to go by, then he can find a level which should have him right in the thick of things for a podium spot. The 14/1 about him each/way is tempting and the 9/4 on a podium spot is also fair, but the 7/2 about him without the big two might be the best value bet of them all.
This could be a big Tour for Australian cycling, with Hindley and his compatriot Ben O’Connor realistic contenders for the podium. O’Connor enjoyed a dream debut when fourth in 2021 and had his tour ruined last year by an early crash which saw him leave at the 10th stage.
Considering that, he came back with great credit to finish eighth at the Vuelta, and again a slow and steady build up finished with a fine third at the Dauphine, which should have him spot on for the Tour. Whilst he doesn’t have the heavy climbing support of others, O’Connor has plenty of racecraft and going man-to-man in the high mountains holds no fears. With his form on the up, he looks overpriced at 33/1 overall and 12/1 without Vingegaard & Pogacar.
Second at the Dauphine was one Adam Yates, who could have a huge part to play in the destination of the yellow jersey. Yates – eight last year for the INEOS Grenadiers – has been a terrific addition to the UAE Squad, taking the UAE Tour and Romandie before his second at the Dauphine, and it’s notable that UAE boss Mauro Gianetti has called the pair co-leaders here given Pogacar’s wrist injury.
Even acting as a lieutenant, there is the potential for Yates to finish in a high position – he will aim to keep close on GC – and super domestiques have achieved high finishes in recent years, whether due to stepping in as a backup plan or being good enough to stay in contention before the road decides, such as Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal for Sky in recent years.
Yates is easily riding well enough to be at least on a podium level and 5/6 on a top ten makes huge appeal, whilst a small each/way bet at 33/1 has little downside.
David Gaudu’s Paris Nice form – where he split Vingegaard & Pogacar – would put him right in the thick of things here, but he must prove his form after a disappointing Dauphine. He looked better at the French national championships, but it may be better to see how he goes in the opening stages. The same comments apply to Enric Mas of Movistar, who’s capable of going with the very best but who needs to prove his well-being, and Richard Carapaz of EF Education, who’s underwhelmed so far this year.
Bahrain’s Mikel Landa could be a major player if he recovers his pre-Dauphine form whilst Mattias Skjelmose, a new Danish revelation who won the Tour de Suisse, will make a big impact during the race and may be worth backing for stage successes.
Green Jersey 🟩
This is the points competition – one which rewards consistency. It’s contended for by puncheurs (riders who are all-rounders that can climb short sharp climbs, and sprint uphill) and sprinters (the fastest riders in the peloton on the flat finishes). It’s rare that a General Classification rider will make the top three here, unless they happen to be very dominant.
Here are how the stages are awarded:
Flat stages (Stages 2,3,4,7,8,11,18,19,21) 50-30-20-18-16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3 and 2 points for the first 15 riders
Hilly finish / Medium mountain stages (Stages 1,9,10,12,13): 30-25-22-19-17-15-13-11-9-7-6- 5-4-3-2 points
Mountain Stages + individual TT (Stages 5,6,14,15,16,17,20) : 20-17-15-13-11- 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
Intermediate sprints: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points
With eight possible flat sprint stages, and Jumbo Visma’s pair of Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte all in the service of Jonas Vinegaard, there could be an opening here for an outright speedster to take glory. Jasper Philipsen’s versatility and pace makes him a worthy favourite, although a price of evens with starsports.bet is very short indeed considering the depth in the sprinting ranks.
Fabio Jakobsen has traded wins with Philipsen all season, including at the Belgian Tour, and 9/2 about him each/way is essentially a bet to nothing if he can show the same speed he’s managed this season. He can go better than his fifth last year, when he failed to add to his stage 2 win and didn’t play a role in the final on the Champs-Élysées.
Mathieu Van der Poel is likely to focus on just stages, whilst Mads Pedersen and Biniam Girmay look the biggest threats each/way, although it remains to be seen how Pedersen copes with the Giro-Tour double, whilst Girmay could find himself possibly crowded out by puncheurs and flatter finishers and a stage win alone would be a fine return from his debut tour.
King of the Mountains ⛰️
The competition which awards the first rider over the top of categorised climbs – essentially the green jersey, but for climbers. Here’s how the points are awarded.
Hors Catégorie double (Col de la Loze): 40-30-24-20-16-12-8-4 points
Hors Catégorie (5 in total): 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2 points
Category 1 climbs (13): 10-8-6-4-2-1 points
Category 2 (10): 5-3-2-1 points
Category 3 (23): 2-1 points
Category 4 (17): 1 point
Recently this has been won by the yellow jersey, with Vingeggard just beating Simon Geschke and Guilo Ciccione last year. In 2021, Pogacar took this alongside the yellow and white jerseys, having won back-to-back summit finishes (along with a pair of fourth place finishes). This was a repeat of his 2020 win when took the jersey on the last climb up to La Planche Des Belles Filles, posting the fastest time and adding that to the yellow and white jerseys.
Second place that year, Richard Carapaz had been supporting Egan Bernal before he had to leave due to back issues, after which he took the initiative and then went on stage hunting and mountain raids, taking the jersey in the process. Primoz Roglic was third and Marc Hirschi, the breakout star, was just behind in fourth.
Previously Romain Bardet switched focus to go for polka-dots and just held off overall winner Egan Bernal; The year before Julian Alaphilippe won by a street as he took two stages and a whole host of points; Warren Barguil, second to Alaphilippe in 2018, won from the breakaways (whilst taking two mountain stages) in 2017, and the year before Rafal Majka won it, again from the breakaways (without a stage win, interestingly).
Logic dictates that it’s worth backing your yellow jersey fancy in this too, so Jonas Vingegaard could be an each/way bet to nothing at 5/1 here. Giulio Ciccone – who sadly missed the Giro due to COVID – is targeting this early, but he’s only 4/1 and it may be better to back him for induvial stages. If a major GC hope suddenly finds themselves out of the picture then they would be a major threat and this could be worth revisiting later.
Team Classification ⏱️
This is calculated by adding the times of the three best riders of each team per stage, for all stages – so for example, if all three riders made it into a winning break, that team would get a better time than one who had all three riders in the peloton.
Ineos are favourites but their squad looks better suited to chasing successes on medium mountain stages and punchy finishes. Bahrain-Victorious – all of whom will be riding their hearts out for Gino Mader – can tackle all sorts of terrain with Pello Bilbao, Mikel Landa, Wout Poels, Jack Haig, Fred Wright and Matej Mohoric, and 3/1 about them seems fair.
Young Riders Jersey 👕
If he stays upright, can anyone beat Tadej Pogacar? Mattias Skjelmose is a huge talent and Carlos Rodriguez can go well but the Slovenian look untouchable if he stays upright.
BACK Jonas Vingegaard – Race Winner 5 pts win at 11/10 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Adam Yates – Race Winner 1 pt each/way at 33/1 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Jai Hindley – Without Vingegaard & Pogacar 2 pts at 7/2 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Ben O’Connor – Without Vingegaard & Pogacar 1 pt at 12/1 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Adam Yates – Top 10 Finish 10 pts at 5/6 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Jonas Vingegaard – King Of The Mountains 2 pts each/way at 5/1 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Fabio Jakobsen – Points Classification 2 pts each/way at 9/2 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Bahrain-Victoria – Team Classification 2 pts win at 3/1 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
PROFIT/LOSS (JUNE 2023): LOSS -0.04 points