Wiggins, Cavendish and team Sky to shine.
Back in March I backed Bradley Wiggins to win the 99th Tour de France and since then I see no reason to change my thinking.
Team Sky have announced a hugely talented nine man team for this exacting cycle race – nay - feat of endurance and barring another accidental mishap Wiggins will be standing the tallest on the podium in Paris on July 22nd.
Over 23 days beginning on 30th June 2012 the Peloton will travel a total of 3,497 kilometres in 20 stages. For the mathematically challenged or those who just didn't register it that means the riders get a grand total of just two rest days during the entire tour. They must be mad!
Team SKY will be made up of the following team members:
Michael Rogers, Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Kanstantsin Siutsou will be Wiggins' Lieutenant's. Helping the main rider through the mountain stages and being available should he need help in any way shape or form. What could they be needed for?
These four riders will take the brunt of the weather, mainly the wind and shelter Wiggins from as much of it as possible leaving him more rested than he otherwise would be to take on Cadel Evans when it comes down to the crunch climbs.
Being able to follow in someone else's wheel is an essential part of cycling, making it easier to save energy and is why so few breakaways succeed in the tour.
Once you break away from the main bunch you are alone with maybe three or four other riders for company and unless they work extremely well together taking turns on the front then it is extremely fatiguing work.
Christian Knees will be the Sky rider chasing down and getting himself in the breaks if required and Boassan Hagan will be on hand to take advantage of any opportunity for a stage win. He won two stages last year.
Bernie Eisel will ride with the Team's sprinter Mark Cavendish to make sure he makes the time cut on the mountain stages but Cavendish has improved his climbing hugely over the past year and is no longer in danger of that.
In fact with the amount of work that Cavendish has done on improving his overall stamina he will be a real threat on some of the stages where sprinters may not traditionally be expected to contest and will win the points jersey comfortably.
In 2011 Cavendish won five stages and I'm backing him to match that or even go one better this year and take six stage wins which would be an incredible achievement but entirely possible with the form he is in and the company he is riding with.
My outside tip was Vincenzo Nibali at 33/1 but todays odds are considerably less favourable at 22/1 and don't look such good value.
Wiggins is now 6/5 with Skybet (7/2 when originally tipped) and Cavendish is 4/1 to take the points jersey.
Cavendish is 9/1 to take the Green jersey and win the Olympic road race 2012 which is a decent value bet.
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