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Against the Odds: Giro Betting preview

A look at the markets ahead of the year’s first Grand Tour

2016 Giro d'Italia - Stage One Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

So , I suppose I did know that the Giro was starting a day early. You know… sort of. Kinda. In the back of my mind. Anyway, between having basically ignored that, and the impact of a busy week, I’m afraid this preview is going up pretty late. Apologies. Still, as you’ll see, this will be something of an ongoing exercise rather than a long article and then nothing further.

All of the markets are available here – and if you navigate around from there, that'll save me filling the entire article up with links to the same site.

My plan is to take a quick canter through the various betting markets for the whole event now, and to pick up on the stage odds each day, too – I don’t know whether we’ll combine that with the live race page, or the preview page… but it’ll appear somewhere on the site before the stage kicks off. I’ll throw in some silly bets or props when I’m feeling inventive enough to come up with them, too. Oh, and I’ll get around to updating the spreadsheet when Conor and Chris have picked. Make sense? Excellent. To the GC!

General Classification

I have very little to add to Conor’s preview. Really, from my perspective it was annoyingly good. I had some statistics and personal insights that I was going to use to insist that he underrated Adam Yates’ chances… right up to the point that he didn’t. I was going to snidely remind him that Kruijswijk very nearly won last year… but he didn’t need reminding. Anyway, Conor has nailed the preview, and the betting market is pretty fair, too.

It all starts with Quintana at evens (50% win chance, 2.0 decimal – or, as they shout at British racecourses, “levels, you devils”, which won’t work with just any accent) and Nibali at a best-priced 6/1 (14%, 7.0). That seems fair, to me. There’s sufficient doubt about Quintana’s fitness and dedication to make him slightly less certain a winner than he would be without the Tour, but he’s the best rider in the field and has great support. Nibali’s the obvious contender.

I’m still saddened that my 16/1 on Aru is a lost bet, but am coming to terms with it. Looking down the list, I think Pinot (14/1) and Yates (18/1) are the obvious mid-priced bets where you’d hope for a podium and be ecstatic with a win. However, I’m going to pick Bob Jungels (80/1) as my outstanding bet. He’s not a certainty by any stretch but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him time-trialling better than all but the truly excellent.

Young rider classification

This is more or less directly taken from the GC men who qualify, as you’d expect. Yates (4/9, 69%, 1.44) is the short-priced favourite, with Jungels 3/1 (25%, 4.0) and Formolo (10/1, 9%, 11.0) the only others that remotely compete. Hugh Carthy, Sebastian Henao and Alexander Foliforov are next in the market.

I won’t be playing in this field as there is better value from any of these guys in the main GC field especially if you believe, as I do, that youth will have a prominent role in the overall this year.

King of the Mountains

Ah, the polka dot competition (I know there isn’t a polka dot jersey. I feel like there should be, in every competition. Why? Spotty socks, that’s why. I know Will agrees with me, and if we’re wrong I don’t want to be right). This one is always something of a lottery – will the winner be a second-tier GC threat who loses time early and changes focus? A leading rider so dominant that they win it by accident? Some guy who sets out to win it and just does, while the peloton ignore them? Even when you’ve picked your type of winner, identifying them is pretty difficult.

Omar Fraile is 6/1 favourite (14%, 7.0) which seemed odd until some cursory research reminded me that he’s won the corresponding spotty jersey (hush) in Spain for two years. He’s as likely as anyone, I guess. Quintana is 9/1 (10%, 10.0) and the obvious dominant rider, but it has been a while since a competitor in the overall picked this up too. Looking for value, I can see either Davide Formolo (80/1) or blast from the past Igor Anton (150/1) having that combination of climbing chops and GC irrelevance, plus no need to support a team member. A top three finish from either would pay nicely.

Points Classification

The points jersey is another “pick your type of winner” competition – are we looking for a sprinter or a climber who can finish. The history on this is… inconclusive. It tends towards climbers but most of the last few giri have been climbier. This one does come with chances for sprinters who can climb a little. There are three joint favourites, the most popular of whom (in terms of share of bets, and common sense) is Fernando Gaviria at 5/2 (29%, 3.5), reflecting the perception that he’s the new Sagan.

Sacha Modolo is at the same price, reflecting, I suppose, his stellar classics season, because I can find no other evidence base for that decision. Really does seem mad, though I acknowledge his form in Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders and Croatia has been at a level we’ve not seen from him before. Still, he’s not for me. Never higher than third in this competition before.

The third co-favourite is Giacomo Nizzolo, reflecting the fact that (a) he’s won it twice before, and (b) oddsmakers didn’t listen to or believe the first podcast we recorded, in which I called him the most overrated man in the peloton. I have an irrational dislike for him, coupled with a rational belief that he’s not as good as the competition. Only raced in Croatia so far, where he picked up a second, fifth, and eighth. Not for me.

So, do we bet on Gaviria, or go for a climber, or take a value pick? A little of both, I think. Whilst I suspect Ewan will beat Gaviria more often than not in the pure sprint stages I like his talent to win the overall points competition and will back him. I’ll add in a flyer on a climber who has some serious finish to him and might be aggressive enough to chase podiums, at a very big price. Adam Yates is 300/1.

Other Markets

A word of advice. Don’t bet on match bets in cycling. It is a really good way to either make a tiny profit over time or, more likely, to cause the guys you like to fall off their bikes. They’re also never very fun. If we could have had Landa vs Thomas, I would have had a bet.

In fact, fake odds: Landa (4/5) vs Thomas (evens). I’d take Landa but I suspect most of you wouldn’t.

Anyway, you can also bet on the guys you might like for the podium to finish in top 6 or top 10 positions. The odds are worse but the chances are better (duh). Michael Woods is 6/1, and I’ll have a bit of that.

Stage One

Our mole tells us it is blowy, and the boss likes Greipel under those conditions. You don’t go broke betting on Greipel in Grand Tours, but I’ll take him on with Caleb Ewan at a generous 11/4 (26%, 3.75) for the win. With a sprint highly likely, I can’t see any outsiders I like for a place.

My bets (to be updated as we move through Italy)

Bob Jungels, General Classification, 80/1 e/w, $5

Davide Formolo, King of the Mountains, 80/1 e/w, $5

Igor Anton, King of the Mountains, 150/1 e/w, $5

Fernando Gaviria, Points, 5/2, $50

Adam Yates, Points, 300/1 e/w, $2.50

Michael Woods, Top 10 GC finish, 6/1, $20

Caleb Ewan, Stage One winner, 3/1, $40