Tour de France Stage 5 Betting Tips.

204.5km of lumpy road that finishes with 1km at 4.8%. It’s a chance for the puncheurs to get involved and there’s a strong chance of some sketchy racing as the riders fight position on narrow, twisting roads.

Today’s stage was probably the best yet with a breakaway that went much further than expected and a sprint that wasn’t decided until the very final moment. As I predicted Demare was nowhere to be seen and Kittel again finished strongly winning our match up bet. The long-shot on Cavendish was looking good until the flamme rouge where he was struggling to hold the wheels. He had good position but simply doesn’t have the legs yet. Today was a much better performance from him and I’ll definitely be jumping in again on Cav when his odds inevitably drift out to the 30 mark.

Tomorrow’s stage should be an interesting one. The run-in is very technical and there are some rough, narrow roads that will make positioning vital. On paper this stage is made for Peter Sagan and with the form he’s in it would be tough to bet against him. Key to the final kilometre is the 4.8% average which brings into play a number of riders we haven’t seen too much of so far. Greg van Avermaet will fancy his chances of taking a win while in the yellow jersey and Michael Matthews and Sonny Colbrelli will be licking there lips at a finish that could really suit their styles. This is also a great chance for Philip Gilbert to take the stage win and the maillot jaune and so QS will be incredibly motivated to keep the race hard. Equally talented is Julian Alaphilippe however I suspect he would prefer a slightly harder finish.

Tomorrow really depends on which teams want to take it up. The stage is up and down for 98km and so there’s plenty of opportunity to rip it to shreds however I think the collective strength of a number of teams will mean that it’s hard to make any gaps stick. I would love to see Gilbert rewarded for his team efforts so far this year but I don’t think the final climb or the stage as a whole is hard enough for him. Instead I think it will be Peter Sagan who takes the stage.

The odds for Sagan are a bit too short for my liking so I’m going to leave the outright bets alone tomorrow. Instead I’ve gone with Demare to beat Gaviria. I think the stage will be too tough for Gaviria while Demare has improved markedly in hilly races over the past couple of seasons. He had a tough start to the race with crashes and as expected was off the pace in the straight line sprinting of today. Tomorrow is very different and I think he will fancy it.

2pts on Arnaud Demare tb Fernando Gaviria at 2 (unibet)

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Amstel Gold Wrap Up

Michael Valgren times his attack perfectly to take his second win of the season.

Pre-2017 I’d never have imagined I’d be describing Amstel Gold as fast and unpredictable but that’s exactly what we got today. Since the route change of last year we’ve had a pair of attacking races decided only in the dying moments and this year it was outside bet Michael Valgren that shocked everyone to take a stunning victory. 

The first race-defining attack came when Kreuziger pushed on in the crosswinds over the top of the Keutenberg at 27km to go. It ejected the likes of Bauke Mollema and drew out Gasparotto who bridged quickly. They had a decent gap which was thinned down by Pieter Serry of QS before a number of attacks flew up the Cauberg. It wasn’t until the Geulhemmerberg that Valverde made his move, bridging to the pair up front and shattering the likes of Gilbert and GvA. Only Sagan, Alaphilippe and Valgren were able to follow immediately and in hindsight this was a moment that gave us a big clue as to who would be strong in the final.

The front group swelled as dropped riders managed to drag themselves back on and it was great to see Rieseebeek and van Hecke from the early break still making moves and going for glory. Importantly Fuglsang managed to make it to the front and was very active, attacking three times and causing a different one of the favourites chase each time all while Valgren sat on the back completely invisible.

With less than 10km to the line Valgren attacked right up the centre of the road and was so powerful that the animal that is Tim Wellens simply couldn’t follow and had to rely on Sagan to bring him back. I think this took a lot out of Sagan and made him hesitant to close any other gaps for fear of taking Valverde and Alaphillipe to the line.

At 2.2km Valgren went again and was followed closely by Kreuziger and then chased a few seconds later by Gasparotto. Sagan et al hesitated and watched each other giving the front pairing a gap of about 15 seconds. At this point it was game over, both were committed and had more than enough strength to take it to line. Valgren waved his elbow aggressively at Kreuziger with about 500m to go signalling for him to come through and to my surprise he actually did, giving Valgren a perfect leadout who sprinted around him for a well-deserved win.

So a great race but because of that only a mediocre day at the bookmakers. I stand by my main pick of Valverde who I think looked the strongest today and was a sight to behold when he whacked it in the big ring and blew away the likes of Kwiato, GvA and Gilbert. Him and Sagan seemed to mark each other out in the final few km’s and it was again that man Sagan who pipped him to the line and left Valverde in 5th. 

Kwiato just didn’t have it today it seems, dropped like a brick on the Geulhemmerberg.  Benoot DNF’ed but despite my best efforts searching through twitter I’m at a loss as to why. Wellens on the other hand made the final selection but it was telling that he couldn’t close down Valgren’s first attack and despite a couple attempts to get away he had run out of gas when it really mattered. PhilGil was my final pick and by the sounds of things a lot of people thought he had this race wrapped up on the startline. He struggled when Valverde attacked but put in a decent effort to get back to the front group and despite being dropped again he actually managed a pretty respectful 13th place. Still, there’s no way he’s happy with that and it’ll be interesting to see how he goes for the rest of the week although I doubt anyone will have as much faith in him to deliver.

Much like Roubaix, it was the matchbets that saved me and resulted in a nice bit of profit from today. Poels DNFed meaning Nibali won that matchup by default and Gilbert finished in the same group as GvA but luckily for me managed to pip him to the line by a single place.

Overall, I had 2.75pts staked on outrights and 4pts on the matchups for a total of 6.75pts. We returned a big fat 0 from the outrights but with both matchups coming in we returned 6.88pts and so took home a small but important 0.13pt profit. That’s a huge 2%!

Jokes aside I’m quite happy to come away from that with a profit. It’s not much but we could’ve done a lot worse with non of my 5 picks on the podium!

So, return of 6.88pts, a profit of 0.13pts (2%). Next up we have the Tour of the Alps (previously Giro del Trentino) which I’ll try to do previews of when I can and then on Wednesday we have Fleche.

 

 

De Brabantse Pijl 2018 Wrap Up

Wellens does a Wellens and takes a dominant win at DBP.

Brabantse Pijl 2018

Live coverage kicked in around 90km from the finish and already the pace was clear to see with Colbrelli’s Bahrain-Merida massing at the front and the breakaway’s gap reduced to only 3 minutes, down from the 8 it had enjoyed earlier in the race. Lotto and Michelton Scott sent Tosh Van Der Sande and Jack Haig up the road, putting in a very solid effort to last until 12km to go and really put the pressure on the likes of Bahrain-Merida and BMC to chase. The pace was hot into the base of pretty much every climb and we saw a number of people attempting flyers to bridge over to Haig and Van Der Sande. Surprisingly even Colbrelli went on the attack with just under 20km to go but it wasn’t until the final ascent of the Ijskelderlaan that the decisive move of the day came when Vanendert moved clear and about 6 others managed to follow, including teammate Tim Wellens. Sensing a slowing of this group Wellens attacked soon after and Gasparotto tried to follow along with Lindemann and Serge Pauwels but Wellens gap only grew.

The peloton managed to catch the 6 riders Wellens had originally gone away with but strangely left Gasparotto on the front to do much of the chasing. I can only guess that no-one in the reduced bunch had the legs to come round and do a turn because there was no way Gasparotto was going to close the gap on his own after having put in such a big effort to stay with Wellens and yet still get dropped. Wellens gap grew to about 25 seconds and from the second he attacked the win never really looked in doubt. Colbrelli sprinted in for second and Tiesj Benoot, who had been invisible all day, came in the for third.

Our pick of Fabio Jakobsen DNF’ed for reasons unknown to me and Coquard finished 19 seconds down in 19th place with the final couple of climbs a bit too much for him. His positioning throughout the race was exceptional and when Colbrelli went on the attack he was the first rider on his wheel. I think under different circumstances this race could one day be ideal for Coquard but yesterday the pace was just too hot and Lotto Soudal just too strong.

With Wellens taking the win we made a healthy 4.5pts profit from our outright bets.

Out matchup bets were equally successful. Canola was touted as an outside favourite for this race but the matchup against Paul Martens seemed a bit of an oversight from the bookies as Martens seems to love this race with top 20s in each of his 7 participations. At 2.62 picking Martens was great value and as expected he finished with yet another top 20 in 11th place, a healthy 16 places ahead of a Marco Canola who looked to go on the attack far too soon. As it happens Dries van Gestel finished only 1 place behind Martens and wrapped up the other matchup over Grellier down in 23rd.

So to wrap up, we staked 6 pts split equally between outright bets and matchups. Of the outright bets we had a winner with Tim Wellens which returned a healthy 7.5pts. On top of this both of our matchups were successful, with the 3pts staked returning a 5.42pts.

In total then we returned 12.92pts, a profit of 6.92pts (115%)! Very nice return on a race that offered good value. Next up, Amstel Gold.

 

 

 

Paris-Roubaix 2018 Wrap Up

Nobody expected him to do it, but equally nobody is shocked, Peter Sagan wins Paris-Roubaix and takes his second monument. Gilbert, Stybar and then van Avermaet all tried their hand before at 53km Sagan slipped off the front, bridged to Dillier and then rode it home in convincing style. The turn of the head from GvA as Sagan rolls away is the staple of a race-winning move and a clear indicator that the group is starting to run out of legs. Sagan was the strongest man on the day and a deserved winner. Dillier finished right behind him with a career defining performance and Terpstra broke away from the chasing group to take the final spot on the podium.

sagan wins roubaix 2

The bookies were correct in selecting Sagan as their favourite but at 4s he didn’t really hold too much value. Gilbert and Stybar both put in decent performances but I sense their attacks were mistimed, as if eager to get out in front before another one of the Quickstep boys managed it. Both seemed to invest quite heavily in futile moves with Gilbert attacking as far out as Arenburg and Stybar persevering solo for kilometre after kilometre with only a 15-20 seconds gap on the peloton. Both finished pretty well with Stybar earning yet another top 10 and Gilbert a top 15.

What to say on Vanmarcke? Another good showing, visible in the final but dropped by Terpstra and beaten by Stuyven and GvA in the sprint so finished outside of the top 5.

My outside pick of Kristoff was looking good after a shaky start that saw him dropped on Troisville, only to be taken out by a pretty severe crash at 48km to go where he went down with Luke Rowe and Tony Martin. He looked pretty second hand sitting on the road but he did in fact get back on his bike and bring it home for 57th, 4 places ahead of Demare and helping us to bring in the 2.75 matchup between the two. With the results of Haussler, Stuyven and Vanmarcke we also managed to tie up the other matchbet.

As always Paris-Roubaix throws up some unexpected performances. The most obvious of those was Sylvain Dillier whose ride was reminiscent of Mat Hayman a couple of years ago. I was particularly impressed with Nils Pollit who showed that he may have a real future in these types of races and Mike Tuenisson who went with Gilbert at 90km and despite making the error of overworking in the break still managed to finish in a very respectable 11th place. Wout van Aert put in a great ride as many people expected with only a shipped chain late on preventing him from a certain top 10. I’m convinced he’s going to win this race one day. Two final performances that I though were particularly noteworthy were John Degenkolb’s and Tony Martin’s. Degenkolb was very active and was a major factor in the success of Stuyven while Martin seemed to be in the top 5 riders for over 100km before being taken out in the same crash as Kristoff.

So to conclude, we staked 7 points, with 4 of those being on outrights (e/w) These all lost unfortunately but we’ve been saved by the success of both of our matchbets in which we staked the remaining 3. Kristoff to beat Demare was a large 2.75 (2pts) and  Haussler tb Petit, Stuyven tb Moscon and Vanmarcke tb van Aert was 3.37 (1pt) giving us a return of 8.87 pts.

This gives us a tidy profit of 1.87pts (26%). This is very sociable considering the rollercoaster that is Roubaix, onto the Ardennes!

 

Sheldeprijs 2018 Wrap Up

Not what we were hoping for results-wise but when the racing was so enthralling the blow is somewhat softened.

jakobsen shelde 2018

As expected the new route caused chaos early on with echelons spread across the road and a number of big favourites caught in the split. However what completely changed the shape of the race was the disqualification of over 30 riders that were caught jumping a level crossing at a red light. With the pressure on and the eyes of many riders glued to the wheel in front it’s conceivable that they genuinely had no idea they were even doing anything wrong. No race moto or car stopped to warn them before the crossing and some riders have tweeted after the event that they were completely oblivious to the level crossing altogether. I agree with the decision to disqualify the rider but I have a feeling this was more a show of force before Paris Roubaix this weekend and may have gone unpunished had it been at a different race or in Roubaix itself.

Anyhow, once I’d gotten over this rotten bit of luck which took out two of our picks it was all down to Kittel. Surely he would bring it home out of a group of only 60? The main worry would be that without any other recognisable sprinter the entire peloton would lean on Katusha to bring back the break leaving Kittel little support in the final. As it turned out Katusha controlled the break expertly and it was looking great until Kittel punctured twice late on in the race, the last of which was the nail in the coffin and Kittel looked very second-rate in his attempts to move up through the cars until we saw the dreaded shake of the head which meant he was out of it.

With no Kittel the prize of a win at Sheldeprijs was open to a host of second-tier and upcoming sprinters and it was anyone’s guess as to who could pull it off. Coming into the final 500m Lawless was the first to really open up his sprint which gave Jakobsen a wheel to follow and then go over the top of. Ackermann managed to squeeze past Lawless on the inside to take second and just about prevent us from breaking even with our matchbet.

As a spectator this was overall one the best Sheldeprijs in memory and I think the new route is great in making the race that little bit harder early on. The result is impressive for quickstep and Stybar’s leadout to position Jakobsen in the finale should definitely be noted with Roubaix only a couple of days away.