Froome Favourite after Being Cleared for Tour de France

Martin Green

Monday, July 2, 2018 2:34 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 2, 2018 2:34 PM UTC

Chris Froome heads the betting for the upcoming Tour de France after an anti-doping case against him was dropped. He now has a shot at a fourth consecutive championship in the event.

<p>Chris Froome is celebrating after cycling's world governing body dropped its anti-doping case against him on the eve of the Tour de France. The Brit always maintained his innocence and said he was “grateful and relieved” after the UCI accepted there was no breach and recommended the case is dropped. He can now put the whole sorry saga behind him and concentrate on what he does best: winning races.</p><p>Froome won the Tour de France the last three years, taking his tally to four victories in the most prestigious event in cycling. He is currently the reigning champion of the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España and the Tour de France, cementing his dominance over the sport. Froome is therefore understandably the clear favourite heading into the 2018 Tour de France, which departs Noirmoutier-en-I’lle on Saturday and finishes 22 days later on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. There are 176 riders across 22 teams participating in the race, but Froome is out alone in the betting.</p><p>Some bookmakers, including <a href=";a=3afd75d9-aef1-48cc-ab15-72cd5dbe1ce0" rel="nofollow">888Sport</a> and <a href=";a=26ea6fa8-c86d-4d9d-9328-b4c0b06702ae&amp;f=2" rel="nofollow">Unibet</a>, are going as low as 6/4 on him winning the famous 3,329km race for the fourth time in a row. Others like <a href=";a=bced0cf5-be5d-40a4-8446-02910689b2b5" rel="nofollow">Paddy Power</a> and <a href=";a=f8ed5465-9b95-4c30-a19c-40831a56957d&amp;f=2" rel="nofollow">Betfred</a> will go to 7/4, while <a href=";a=20c974fd-d344-4703-9294-76d620ebd215&amp;f=2" rel="nofollow">Sportingbet</a> is offering a market-leading 2/1. Even at those short odds, Froome is attracting the most action, but the betting has been spread between a number of riders.</p><p>Geraint Thomas, Froome’s teammate at Team Sky, is attracting a lot of attention at odds of 20/1 with the likes of Paddy Power. He won the Dauphine in June ahead of Adam Yates and Romain Bardet and then went on to secure victory in the British national time trial championships. The Welshman is in fine form, and he believes he offers Team Sky another leadership option alongside Froome in the race.</p><p>“The team have said that with the way I’ve been riding they’re confident to give me that role of a backup guy and to race at least until the first rest day,” he said. “We’ll go from there then and hopefully have two cards to play. I think the longer that both of us are up there it gives the team two options.”</p><p>The first week of the Tour de France is full of hazards, include winds whipping in from France’s western coastline and narrow, winding roads in the Vendee and the cobbled stage to Roubaix. “The plan is to race up until the first rest day and try not to lose any time going into the Alps, and then I’m hopefully up there,” said Thomas. “Then hopefully we’ll have two cards to play. I’m really motivated and looking forward to it. Froome has won six Grand Tours and the Tour four times so for sure he’s going to have that leadership role. He’s had a different approach to it this year, obviously riding the Giro, so it’s a bit of an unknown as to how he’s going to be but I’ve definitely got that chance, which I’m really relishing.”</p><p>He makes a good point, as history tells us that it is hard to go on and win the Tour de France after giving everything to land the Giro. That could provide an opening for the likes of Thomas to usurp the great man. Australia’s Richie Porte is the second favourite at 9/2 and BMC has named a strong and experienced group of riders to support him. He finished fifth in 2016, but crashed out last year. Yet a recent victory in the Tour de Suisse has left him among the main contenders to land this year’s Tour de France. The likes of Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet will also provide stern competition.</p><p>But Froome is the one to beat. "It would be incredible to win a fifth title,” he said. “This is a huge challenge for me and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into these next few weeks.”</p><p>Given his extraordinary mental and physical strength, it would take a magnificent effort to stop him.</p>
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