Paddy Power are offering odds of 50-1 on Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) to win the opening road stage of the Tour de France from Utrecht to Zeeland on July 5th, with Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) the favourite ahead of Andre Greipel.
Bennett will be making his debut at the Tour this year, but has taken notable scalps over the past few seasons. Most recently, he beat the likes of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) to take stage wins at the Bayern Rundfahrt. Both of these riders have shorter odds than the Irishman to win the stage. Bouhanni did seem to be coming into form for the Tour, having won stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné and Halle-Ingooigem recently. However, he may be struggling due to injuries sustained in the French Championships at the weekend.
The price being offered for Cavendish to win is only evens which is not great, especially for the opening stage, where anything can happen. The Manxman has recovered his form this season and justifies his favourite tag though. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) had originally been second favourite, having won the opening stage of the Tour twice before. However, he is now out of the race, and Greipel is second favourite at 9-2.
The opening stage is just 166kms and completely flat, but there could be some serious crosswinds causing damage to the bunch. Cavendish has a great pedigree in winning stages affected by crosswinds, taking the stage win at St. Amand Montrond in 2013, and the stage to La Grande Motte in 2009. So, he has shown that he has the ability to be in the right place at the right time.
The stage could be very interesting and could cause some trouble to some GC contenders. If Sam Bennett can make it into the leading group if the race does split, then he may be worth an each-way bet.
The top favourites and their prices from Paddy Power are shown below:
Mark Cavendish Evens
Andre Greipel 9/2
Alexander Kristoff 6/1
Peter Sagan 10/1
Nacer Bouhanni 11/1
Arnaud Demare 14/1
John Degenkolb 18/1
Bryan Coquard 22/1
Michael Matthews 50/1
Sam Bennett 50/1