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Tour de France - Cycling - Matthew Ireland's Tips

Racing Post tipster Matthew Ireland looks at whether anyone can beat Tadej Pogacar and gives his best bets for cycling's biggest race of the year.

Primoz Roglic to win Tour de France @ 4/1
1pt each-way

Mads Pedersen each-way to win Points Classification @ 12/1
1pt each-way

Romain Bardet each-way to win King of the Mountains @ 8/1
1pt each-way

Aleksandr Vlasov to beat Enric Mas in overall match-up @ 8/11
4pts

The 109th Tour de France gets under way in Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday, with Slovenian rider Pogacar seeking a third yellow jersey in succession.

Here's our expert preview of the upcoming action during a gruelling month of July for the best riders in the world.

What

Tour de France

Where

Opening three stages in Denmark, then France

When

Stage One, 15:00, Friday 1st July

How to watch

Eurosport & ITV4

Odds

Tadej Pogacar 4/6, Primoz Roglic 9/2, Jonas Vingegaard 4/1, Geraint Thomas 12/1, Aleksandr Vlasov 16/1 Daniel Martinez 20/1

Teamwork may make the dream work for Roglic

Pogacar will become just the fifth cyclist in history to win three Tours in a row should he triumph in France this year and he is 4/6 to do just that over the first three weeks of July.

There appear to be few weaknesses about the favourite. He is an outstanding climber, highly-competent time-trialist and, as he showed on the penultimate stage of his first Tour success in 2020 when turning the tables on compatriot Primoz Roglic in stunning fashion, capable of producing moments of brilliance few could dream of.

Pogacar's prodigious talent is not in question but if there is any chink in his armour then it may be the strength of his UAE team.

His mountain lieutenants certainly appear weaker than that of compatriot Roglic, who can call on 2019 third place Steven Kruijswijk, the ludicrously talented Wout van Aert and Grand Tour stage winner Sepp Kuss to marshal his challenge.

Throw Danish ace Jonas Vingegaard, who finished second to Pogacar in last year's Tour, into the mix and Jumbo-Visma have a star-studded squad with two cards to play - a scenario Pogacar has yet to face.

Judged by the recent Criterium du Dauphine, three-time Vuelta a Espana winner Roglic would appear to be Jumbo's marginal leader - he won the race while Vingegaard was second overall - and if he can stick with Pogacar in the mountains as well as avoiding the crashes that curtailed his Tour bid last year, he looks a solid each-way wager at 9/2.

Green jersey hinges on van Aert

The points classification at the Tour de France was for so long a penalty kick for former world champion Peter Sagan, who won the green jersey a record seven times between 2012 and 2019. Indeed, the only year he didn't win the classification in that time was in 2017 when he was thrown off the race for causing a horror crash.

Times have become a little leaner for Peter the Great recently, however, and this year's battle for the green jersey seemingly revolves around Belgian superstar Wout van Aert.

A rare jack-of-all-trades and master of most of them, van Aert achieved a rare treble at last year's Tour, winning a mountain stage, time-trial and a bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysees.

The poser for bettors is whether he will be allowed to hunt for green if his Jumbo-Visma team leaders, Roglic and Vingegaard, are in the thick of the GC battle.

That slightly tempers enthusiasm given van Aert is 8/11 favourite so it may pay to have an each-way interest on Mads Pedersen at 10/1.

A former world champion, the Dane is a competent all-rounder who can mix it in sprint finishes as well as being able to get over the hillier terrain, which is crucial when targeting intermediate sprint points.

With no outstanding GC contender to protect, Pedersen should be given license to go after stages and points.

Related Tour de France News

Tour de France - Cycling: Key Stages

Tour de France - Cycling: Stage-by-Stage Guide

Tour de France - Cycling: The Schedule

Bardet is a mountain goat

The King of the Mountains classification is always one of the trickiest conundrums to decipher at the Tour.

The polka dots can be either won by a stage hunter who continually gets themselves in breakaways in the hope of mopping up the points before the peloton catch them, or as a by-product of overall success - something Pogacar has done in the past two Tours.

The previous four polka-dot jerseys were all won by riders who had targeted the jersey, either at the outset or due to being out of overall contention. One of three home winners in that time was Romain Bardet, who may see the polka dots as his primary objective again.

Bardet's hopes of winning the Tour are probably over but he is still an excellent climber and even better descender, which is just as important when trying to keep the points out of the peloton's reach.

Vlasov has the measure of Mas

Bora-Hansgrohe have already tasted Giro d'Italia success in 2022 courtesy of Jai Hindley's win in the year's first Grand Tour, and their Russian climber Aleksandr Vlasov harbours high hopes of a decent Tour de France showing.

A general classification victory at the Tour de Romandie and third place at the Tour of the Basque Country are certainly better results than Movistar's Enric Mas has achieved this year and Vlasov looks a worthy 8/11 favourite in their GC match-up.

Vlasov was leading the recent Tour de Suisse until a Covid outbreak at the race forced his withdrawal and, while that isn't ideal for his podium ambitions, he should still have the measure of Mas, who was over 17 minutes down on the leader prior to pulling out before the final stage of the Dauphine.

By Matthew Ireland

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