The 103rd Tour de France takes place between 2 July 2016 and 24 July 2016. The Tour de France is the marquee multi-stage race during the UCI Calender and the oldest of the Grand Tours.
This years race features a super strong field and I expect it to be ultra-competitive and the best of the Grand Tours in 2016.
The 2016 Tour de France features the regular 21 stages – this year they cover 3,535kms – almost exclusively in France.
In terms of stage breakdown there are:
9 flat stages
1 hilly stage
9 mountain stages including 4 summit finishes (on Andorre Arcalis, on Mont Ventoux, on Finhaut-Emosson and on Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc)
2 individual time trial stages
2 rest days
The route takes an anti-clockwise direction around France in 2016.
Unusually, this year there is no opening stage prologue. The first stage instead is a 188km road stage between Mont-Saint-Michel and Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Expect one of the elite sprinters to take the opening maillot jaune (Yellow Jersey).
Most Recent Winners of the different Jerseys
I intend to provide tips for the three main jersey classifications in the 2016 race. I find it useful to show the most recent winners of each jersey as a historical background for my preview.
Maillot Jaune – Yellow Jersey – Overall Race Winner
2011 – Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing
2012 – Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky
2013 – Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
2014 – Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana
2015 – Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky (2)
Numbers in brackets indicate career wins in that category.
Green Jersey – Points Classification (Sprinters) Winners
2011 – Mark Cavendish (GBR) – HTC Highroad
2012 – Peter Sagan (SLO) – Liquigas
2013 – Peter Sagan (SLO) – Liquigas (2)
2014 – Peter Sagan (SLO) – Liquigas (3)
2015 – Peter Sagan (SLO) – Tinkoff (4)
Polkadot Jersey – King of the Mountains (Climbers) Winners
2011 – Samuel Sanchez (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi
2012 – Thomas Voeckler (FRA) – Team Europcar
2013 – Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
2014 – Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff
2015 – Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
I have not included the recent winners of the White Jersey (best rider under 25) nor the Team Classification winner. Each market can be quite volatile. Often a riders first Tour de France is the only year he can contend for the White Jersey due to age restrictions. Nairo Quintana being the recent exception with wins in 2013 & 2015.
Maillot Jaune – Yellow Jersey – Contenders
The bookies have in my opinion priced this market perfectly. The 2016 Tour de France barring crashes and illness will be between two riders – defending champion and two time winner (2013 & 2015) Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) the runner-up in both of Froomes victories.
Chris Froome starts 2016 as race favourite with a price in the 2.1-2.5 range. He is deadly in this race with the exception of 2014 where his race was blighted by crashes and broken wrists. Froome recently won the week long Criterium de Dauphine over similar terrain. He was impressive in the mountain stages and beat many of his Tour de France rivals in that race with the exception of Quintana and Nibali.
The Sky team is probably the strongest I have seen in the Tour de France. It contains some exceptional climbers – Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Sergio Henao and Wout Poels plus a great number two in Gerraint Thomas and some strong men that will provide power on the flat stages. The team balance favours the climbers this year and is a reflection of the route – it will be tough with 9 mountain stages. Froome will need help and I think he has it.
Nairo Quintana is without doubt going to win multiple Tour de France’s. Is this the year he breaks his duck? The bookmakers have him as clear second favourite – priced in the 2.75-3.10 range. He like Froome is lightly raced but he does have a stage race victory over Froome in the mountainous Tour de Romandie.
Like Froome he has a great team behind him featuring some excellent climbers and Alejandro Valverde, a rider who always seems to be there or thereabouts in practically every race he enters. He has yet to beat Froome at the Tour de France but it will happen. This year I think the two will be incredibly close – the final winning time may be inside one minute. I’m totally split on which one of them will win in 2016. There is no value in an each way bet at these prices so I might wait until the race is a few stages old to revisit their odds.
The only other rider in the field with a price under 14/1 is Alberto Contador (Tinkoff). He is a multiple Tour de France and Grand Tour winner but in recent years races he has not quite been able to live with Froome or Nibali. He can be backed as high as 6.00 in 2016. I think he is 1-2% behind the big two on the high mountains and this is enough to discount his chances at overall success.
Vincenzo Nibali won in 2014 when Froome, Contador and a handful of other riders crashed out. He is coming of a ‘remarkable’ victory in the 2016 Giro d’Italia and it is this that hurts his chances of success here. In the 2000’s riders who won the Giro d’Italia fade in the Tour de France. The races are too intense and too close together for a rider to do the double. This is reflected in the bookmakers pricing for Nibali – (range of 26.0-34.0). It is not even certain if he is team leader here as Fabio Aru had been designated as number one for the Tour de France. Aru has no form right now due to illness. Astana want to show off to their sponsors and this is why Nibali has been drafted in to their team.
Richie Porte is the only other rider I can take seriously as a GC challenger. Porte has surprised me a little this season – he has featured in a number of tough multi-stage mountain races. Porte can definitely climb but his best TDF finish is a surprisingly lowly 19th. I think he is a much better rider than that and at a price of 19.0 is a nice EW podium selection.
This is not the year for a French breakthrough – sorry Thibaut Pinot, Romain Bardet and the rest. The Sky and Movistar teams are just too strong this year for anyone other than Froome or Quintana to win. Your time will come but it won’t be 2016. I think one of you will win the White Jersey classification – see below.
Caveat – I think some of the Sky and Movistar riders could challenge for top 5 is they were not riding as support for a team leader.
Green Jersey – Points Classification Challengers
Peter Sagan is red-hot favourite to win this classification in what would be a fifth consecutive victory. He has the shortest odds of any rider in the three main classifications and in my mind it is justified. No he won’t win the early stage sprints on the flatter northern roads in France. Sagan doesn’t quite have the elite sprint speed of Marcel Kittel, Andre Griepel or Mark Cavendish. He will be competitive, gaining points here to keep him in touch with the sprinters.
What he does have is an ability to perform on the hilly and mountain stages which is where he will win the intermediate sprints and slowly accumulate the points to win his 5th Green Jersey. It is possible he may not win a stage in 2016 but he will have enough top 10 finish points scoring results to boost his total.
Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step) is the fastest sprinter based on results this season. Kittel has comfortably beaten all of his rivals on the flatter types of bunch sprints. I think he wins stage 1 and takes the Maillot Jaune plus the Green Jersey in the early going. Once the mountains arrive Kittel will fade and possibly retire – depending on his teams intentions for him later in the season.
Andre Griepel (Lotto Soudal) could be the closest challenger to Sagan in that of the quickest three he is probably the best performer on uphill bunch sprints. He climbs better than Kittel or Cavendish and has value at 10.0 in this market. Were Sagan to have an issue in the race Griepel should be the rider to pounce.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is on the downside of his career. He was utterly dominant in sprint finishes and won the Green Jersey in 2011. He still wins races but not with the regularity of the 2008-2011 era. I don’t see him winning this classification in 2016.
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) could be worth a small EW bet at 17.0-19.0. He is fast and there has been some noise that this is a target for his season. Whether he matches up well to Sagan and Griepel is debatable.
Polkadot Jersey – King of the Mountains (KOTM) Classification
This is the toughest classification to predict. Three of the last five winners – Sanchez, Voeckler and Majka were not seriously in contention for the race win. On climbs that mattered they were easily bested by the likes of Chris Froome (2015 KOTM winner), Nairo Quintana (2013 KOTM winner) and the other GC riders.
KOTM points are on offer in every stage. Each year a handful of riders target this jersey. They will get into breakaway after breakaway to claim the smaller and/or early available points in each stage. This provides them with a points buffer before the GC race really kickoffs each day. This will happen in 2016 – I can see a rider like Thomas Voeckler aiming solely to win this jersey. This actually happens in all three Grand Tours – Damiano Cunego being the rider who focused on the KOTM in this years Giro d’Italia.
However, the route this year is a bit of a killer. There are 9 mountain stages with 4 mountain tops finishes. The GC riders will definitely feature on the mountain top finishes and on 3 or 4 of the final climbs in the other mountain stages. This brings Froome and Quintana into serious contention to win two jerseys in the 2016 race.
Quintana is favourite in this market at 5.50 whilst Froome is available at 8.00. I think this is where the value is for each rider – both can be backed EW at those odds and we can expect a return on both as payout is top 4 places with Paddy Power!
White Jersey (Young Rider) Classification
This could be the most competitive jersey in 2016. Favourite is Frenchman Warren Barguil (Team Skil-Shimano) at really low odds of 2.20. He has the climbing ability to better last years 14th place but may suffer in the time-trials which is his weakness right now.
Adam Yates (Orica Greenedge) is his closest challenger at odds of 4.00 and he is a similar rider. Very strong on the climbs but may lose a little time in the ITTs (but not as much as Barguil). I think he can finish in the top 10 this year but will go even higher in 2017. I think he might beat Barguil in this classification.
Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) and Wilco Kelderman (Lotto NL-Jumbo) are next best priced at 7.00. Meintjes was impressive in last years Vuelta finishing 10th but like Kelderman has yet to put in a decent ride in the Tour. I don’t see either winning the white jersey.
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) has shown remarkable form this season. To me he is the big French hope for the future – the one that will win a Grand Tour. He climbs, he sprints, he time-trials and his frame looks ideal to be an elite climber. He was excellent in the Criterium de Dauphine last month and I really like his chances in this classification. He is priced at 17.0 which is an value and is my choice to win a jersey in Paris.
NOTE – This market is a win only market.
Tour de France 2016 Tips
Back Nairo Quintana to win the King of the Mountains for a 1.25/10 (1/4 the odds top 4) stake EW at odds of 5.50 with Paddy Power.
Back Chris Froome to win the King of the Mountains for a 1.0/10 stake EW (1/4 the odds top 4) at odds of 8.00 with Paddy Power.
Back Julian Alaphilippe to win the Young Rider classification for a 1.0/10 stake at odds of 17.00 with Paddy Power.
Back them all here:
Back Richie Porte to win the Tour de France with a 1.0/10 stake EW (1/4 odds top 3) at odds of 21.00 with Netbet.
Back him here: