Some semblance of normal service was resumed on Sunday with Tour de France Stage 2 second-favourite Andre Greipel’s win, after Australian Rohan Dennis’ surprise time-trial success 24 hours earlier.
Having been usurped in the outright betting by Nairo Quintana following a merely ‘satisfying’ start to Le Tour on Saturday, Chris Froome is back into 6/4 favourite to claim a second yellow jersey for keeps after climbing to 10th, going over a minute and a half clear of the young Colombian in the process.
Of the four men leading the market, namely Froome, Quintana, two-time winner Alberto Contador and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, it’s the latter who’s seen as the likeliest to challenge on Monday, after his medium-mountain stage triumph en route to last year’s Tour de France title.
However, while Nibali is rated the eighth-most likely rider to reign supreme on the Mur de Huy, he’s a pretty big price at 33/1, with favourite Alejandro Valverde taking a huge chunk out of the betting at 2/1.
Spanish all-rounder Valverde has 12 Grand Tour overall top-10s in his back catalogue, including victory in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana, and managed his best result in five cracks at Le Tour when finishing fourth last year.
The 35-year-old Movistar veteran claimed Tour de France stage victories in 2005, 2008 (twice) and 2012, over mountainous and flat terrain, and the next leg of this year’s race seems to have been built for him.
Valverde has won Spring Classic ‘La Fleche Wallonne’, which features the same final climb as the upcoming Antwerp-to-Huy test, for the past two years, and also took the laurels in 2006, making him the joint-most successful rider in the one-day race’s history.
Indeed, Spaniards have dominated La Fleche Wallonne of late, with 6/1 Stage 3 second-favourite Joaquim Rodriguez and Vuelta expert Daniel Moreno claiming victory in the previous two years.
Both finished behind Valverde just over two months ago though, and while the price about him might not be fancy, it still looks decent.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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