August 4, 2016
The tour has been over for almost two weeks and we're all feeling the letdown. Bobke is back in cold storage and the tifosi have gone home. Fret not, cycling fans, there is another cycling spectacle shimmering on the horizon.
Starting tomorrow, your favorite UCI Stars will be in Rio risking Zika in hopes of winning Olympic Gold.
Let's take a look at how these heartthrobs are preparing for the Games and what the experts think their chances are.
Much to the delight of the German sprinters, Mark Cavendish abandoned the Tour after Stage 16 to avoid the toll of the Alps and prepare for Olympics where he is expected to win medals in the Omnium and Team Pursuit. But he has other things to consider.
If you've ever seen Cav being interviewed and wondered why there were no subtitles to help you understand what he is saying, that is because he is speaking English.
He has only 25 UCI mountain bike points and will be starting at the back of the grid in the Olympic Mountain Bike Race. The favorites were dismissive when asked about Peter Sagan's chances to medal in Rio. Five time World Champion Nino Schurter "does not expect Sagan to influence the race" and twice Gold Julien Absalon is glad that "he (Sagan) still has fun riding off road." And he is coming to eat your lunch, boys.
And the bookies agree.
RVO Research has been following the lines on all of the major betting sites and Sagan is in the top three of the favorites on all sheets. Currently at around 8:1 odds, his line is trending shorter as the race approaches.
The mountain bike course is wide open with plenty of room for passing and Pete gets two weeks to practice until he owns it. Absalon and Schurter are hearing footsteps. Sounds like Sagan climbing the podium.
Chris Froome is a strong favorite to win the ITT and currently sits around even odds. Tom Dumoulin appears to be the only real threat at 2:1 odds and it would be no suprise to see Froomy on the top step for this event.
The outlook for the road race is a different story. There is no clear favorite and Froome is among the strongest riders. He probably won't get a chance to show off his running form on Saturday but many are expecting high speed fireworks on the descents.
Odds on 2 Golds for Froome was 66:1 last week and now sits around 20:1. A lot of people are betting on the maillot juane. The ITT is his to take. And in the Road Race, anything can happen if he pulls out his panache again.
Like the gypsy Brad Pitt in 'Snatch',
Cav speaks one of those far out English dialects that reqiures a translator. As Jason Strahan's character 'Turkish' asked his friend in the Caravan scene, "Did you understand a single word of what he just said?"
Last month's 'Brexit' rode the wave of English nationalism that is sweeping the United Kingdom. With it comes the need to command the Queen's English, or a least something that the Americans can understand.
So by the time the Krauts were fighting over the scraps on the Champs, Cav had already gained considerable exposure to the tounge while participating in Great Britain's fully-imersive, English-only Olympic track cycling program.
Sources close to the team have indicated that his diction has gotten clear enough that he can use Siri and they expect him to say something interesting at his next press conference.
Everybody knows that Sagan is the boss. The Slovenian hops over wrecks and onto the roof rack of the team car. So when he wants to ride mountain bikes in the Olympics, he rides mountain bikes in the Olympics.
The photo below captures his decisive move on the cobbles when he won the World Championship last year in Richmond. Cycling fanboy and Cat2 attacker Dean Smith got the shot after scouting the course and determining that this was the place the race would be decided. He had this to say about Sagan's chances at a medal. " He's a crusher. He big-ringed 23rd Street in Richmond and dusted everyone. I think that shows his ability to drill it up hills, and he clearly has the bike handling skills. Yes, he will medal..."
Can Froome Sweep?
The bookies had Chris Froome at better than even odds ( 5/6 : 1 ) going into the 2016 Tour de France. A ten dollar bet would've won you only $8.33. That is a heavy favorite.
Second-ranked Nairo Quintana was at 5:1 odds. Froome won and Quintana finished third. The book makers picked two thirds of the podium. Betting odds, it seems, are very helpful when predicting outcomes.