The battle to seize the polka dot jersey at this year’s Tour de France looks ferociously competitive and some long shots offer great value for punters.
<p>Latvia’s Toms Skujins seized the polka dot jersey by delivering an impressive stage five performance at the Tour de France on Wednesday. The distinctive shirt is given to the King of the Mountains at the famous race, and Skujins leads the way after</p><p>racking up crucial points in Brittany. But sterner tests lie ahead, with the formidable stage 12 looming large on the horizon, and cycling’s finest mountain goats are preparing to wage an epic battle.</p><p>There are 53 categorised climbs in total during the race, leaving plenty of opportunities to fight for the polka dot shirt. Stage 12 takes place on Thursday, July 19, and it may not be the hardest climb, but it is the most awe-inspiring. It takes in a 175.5km ascent over Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Croix de Fer, ending with the 21 switchbacks to Alpe d’Huez. The climbs are long and gruelling, so expect quads and hamstrings to burn among the hardiest mountain goats in the business.</p><p>Robert Gesink, Thomas de Gendt, Rafal Majka and David Gaudu all have what it takes to secure victory in this demanding stage, and long enough odds on any of them could inspire an each-way bet. Mikel Landa, Daniel Martin, Warren Barguil and Pierre Rolland will also be in the mix, while you cannot count out leading lights such as Chris Froome and Richie Porte.</p><p>Defending champion Barguil is the favourite to finish the race as King of the Mountains, priced at 11/4 <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=e605009c-af6d-4596-a06f-dbd28d37b12f&f=2">with Bet365</a>. Majka, Froome and Nairo Quintana have all finished the race as King of the Mountains in the last five years, and they look like attractive options, particularly Majka at 14/1 and Froome at 16/1. You can well afford to go each-way on such long odds, and the likes of <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=e605009c-af6d-4596-a06f-dbd28d37b12f&f=2">Bet365</a> will pay a quarter of the odds if he finishes second or third in this market. However, long shots are seeing a lot of action from the betting public for King of the Mountains. Primoz Roglic at 50/1, Omar Fraile at 66/1 and Lilian Calmejane at 33/1 are all popular choices, while Skujins is also priced at 50/1.</p><p>A 21.7km of pave on stage nine will guarantee time gaps, while stage 10 looks tricky and stage 17 looks extremely exciting. Stage 19 provides the final opportunity in the mountains for any riders hoping to clinch the yellow jersey. After Laruns remains only a 31km rolling time trial and the processional stage around Paris.</p><p>Ireland’s Dan Martin landed stage six of the Tour de France with a powerful late attack on Friday, with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas just three second behind. Thomas is now second overall, three seconds behind Greg van Avermaet of BMC Racing and 59 seconds ahead of teammate Froome. The four-time champion lost five seconds in stage six, revealing a weakness, while Tom Dumoulin slipped well behind. But Froome remains the favourite to win the race for a fifth time, priced at 7/4 <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=e605009c-af6d-4596-a06f-dbd28d37b12f&f=2">with Bet365</a>, as he is expected to come on strong in the mountains between stages 10 and 19 and close out another epic victory.</p><p>However, Thomas is attracting a fair bit of attention from punters at odds of 10/1 <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=f8ed5465-9b95-4c30-a19c-40831a56957d&f=2">with Betfred</a> and <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=8b268052-553e-4cf2-9174-cf56ab1a531d&f=2">Marathon Bet</a>. He grabbed a couple of bonus seconds in stage six and declared “everyone will be watching me now”. He has certainly displayed great consistency and mental strength to turn the heat up on Froome and Porte, and he could well threaten those leading lights for the ultimate prize.</p>