The 2007 Tour de France has recently kicked off and the biggest cycling race in the world looks to be particularly exciting this year.
Those betting on the Tour de France obviously have a large pool of contenders to handicap, although there are just a handful of betting favorites, one of whom will probably find himself at the top of the podium at race end.
Even though it looks as though America may finally be ceding its Tour de France crown after winning the last eight races, the United States does have a real chance at continuing its reign. This year’s Tour de France is unique in several ways, which should make betting on it quite popular.
For one, it began in London with the Prologue, which was a historical first. Also, cycling has recently suffered horribly from a string of high-profile doping scandals that have rocked the sport and given it the role of a punch line.
However, cycling seems to be making at least some progress in combating steroids so this race may be the beginning of an era that returns to steroid-free riders. Finally, this year’s course is particularly interesting because the Alps stage appears very early, while the Pyrenees section comes towards the end.
The undisputed Tour de France betting favorite is Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan. He is a fearless competitor and because he is reaching the end of his career he will be racing with the knowledge that this may have to be his year to win.
Many will find it easy to root for Vinokourov because he was not implicated in a past doping scandal that engulfed many of his ex-teammates. Aside from his natural talents on the bicycle, he also is a very experienced rider with the mentality of a veteran, which may be the key in the late stages.
Many Tour de France bettors consider Vinokourov’s greatest threat in the race to be one of his own teammates, Andreas Kloeden of Germany. Kloeden used to ride under the infamous Jan Ullrich, who was one of the greatest racers of his era but has now lost his reputation in the steroid scandals.
The fact that Kloeden and Vinokourov, the two Tour de France betting favorites, are racing on the same team means that the race could become quite interesting and emotional in the final rounds.
The United States is now accustomed to seeing an American win the Tour de France, mostly due to Lance Armstrong’s amazing seven consecutive victories. This year the greatest hope for the stars and stripes will be Levi Leipheimer from California.
Many are betting on Levi to finish within the top three, but doubt he will be able to claim first place in the Tour. Nevertheless, if he can remain strong in the difficult climbs in the mountain stages then Leipheimer could be a threat to win.