Chris Froome’s key rival for Tour de France glory crashed out at the weekend and the defending champion is now the odds-on favourite to win the race.
<p> </p><p>Defending champion Chris Froome moved up to eighth overall with a powerful display on stage nine of the Tour de France at the weekend. The epic race resumes on Tuesday after a rest period and Froome should be full of confidence after opening up a lead over rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana. But the biggest news was that second favourite Richie Porte crashed out with an injured shoulder. That saw the odds on Froome winning the race for a fifth time dwindle and he is now just 5/6 <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=e605009c-af6d-4596-a06f-dbd28d37b12f&f=2">with Bet365</a> to secure glory.</p><p>That still looks like a tempting option, as he has been extremely successful here in recent years and he has the pace, the determination and experience to get the job done once again. We are now heading into the mountain stage, where he should excel as he is a former King of the Mountains who relishes these sort of battles. The riders ahead of him will fall away before long as they are not team leaders, and it will then simply be up to Froome to hold his nerve.</p><p>However, Welshman Geraint Thomas could throw a spanner in the works. He is Froome’s teammate at Team Sky, but he is not currently playing a supporting role. Thomas is currently second overall, 59 seconds ahead of Froome. He said Froome is “keen” for the him to try for the yellow jersey when the Tour de France enters the mountains. Former teammate Sir Bradley Wiggins said this could be an extremely dangerous strategy for Team Sky to pursue. “This is where it gets difficult, as we hit the first mountain stage,” he said. “If Geraint stays where he is and takes the yellow jersey, they've got a real problem on their hands.”</p><p>Wiggins, a former Tour de France winner before Froome came to the fore for Team Sky, believes team boss Sir Dave Brailsford will be telling both Thomas and Froome they can win the Tour in order to keep them motivated. “Dave will be in both of their ears and be telling them they can both win it, as a way of motivating them, as a way of playing these cards deep into the race, and let the natural selections come in to play,” said Wiggins. “He’s quite self-serving. For him, it’s about the team winning, it’s not about individuals or characters. Both riders have got this joint leadership role, but that’s dangerous. But the quality they have in that team, they could end up first or second.”</p><p>However, Thomas said it is a little early to be talking about joint leaders. "If I'm still there after Alpe d'Huez [which takes place on Thursday], maybe it's different then," he added. Froome said the strategy is the correct one. “He's riding extremely well and it just puts us in an even better place,” he said of Thomas. “I think the race, as always, will decide leadership. For us, it’s fantastic to have different cards to play.”</p><p>If Team Sky really are keeping their options open, and Brailsford really believes Thomas can win this race, the 8/1 on offer at Bet365 on him seizing glory looks appealing. You can go each way and get a quarter of the odds if he finishes second or third, so you would double your money on Thomas if he placed. Most of the action is now going on Froome, but some punters are hedging with an each-way stake on the likes of Thomas, Nibali and Roman Bardet.</p>