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Where should your money be for the 2019 Tour of Flanders?

Joe Robinson
1 Apr 2019

Which riders should you back ahead of the Tour of Flanders?

The Tour of Flanders is the second Monument of the year and tackles 266.5km of the toughest roads in the Flemish region of Belgium. The race is synonymous with the cobbled 'bergs' that pose the most challenging obstacle for the peloton. Among those are the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg which constitute the final two climbs of the day.

While not the steepest climb within the parcours, the Oude Kwaremont is one of the longest at 2.2km long. This extended time climbing the cobbles often sees the peloton fragment as the strongest in the race begin to stretch their legs.

What makes this climb even more dangerous is the kilometre or so of false flat cobbles that lie at the top of the hill, allowing riders no time to recover.

The Paterberg is far shorter than the Kwaremont but far steeper. The 360m long cobbled climb averages 12% and pitches up to 20% at points. It is so tough that misjudged efforts and miscalculated gearing have even reduced the world's best professionals to dismounting and walking up this berg.

Three-time champion Tom Boonen climbs the Muur for the final time

Other notable climbs include the Kapelmuur, Koppenberg and Taaienberg which all pose substantial challenges along the route and can provide the platform for a race-winning move.

Recent editions have proven that fortune does favour the brave with two consecutive years of long-range attacks being enough to take the race's spoils.

Last year was won by Niki Terpstra, then of Quick-Step Floors. The Dutchman followed an attack by Vincenzo Nibali on the Kruisberg to push clear of the group of favourites, riding the final 25km solo, taking the Netherlands' first Flanders victory since Adri van der Poel (father of Mathieu) in 1986.

Before that in 2017, Philippe Gilbert proved class is permanent with a barnstorming attack on the Oude Kwaremont with 55km remaining. The Belgian shot clear of the pack and held off the likes of Greg van Avermaet and Niki Terpstra all the way to the line.

What are the odds and who should you be backing?

As is customary with the Spring Classics, Peter Sagan is favourite across the board with the bookies. A previous winner in 2016, many expect the three-time World Champion will finish his career with multiple Flanders titles.

That means finding value in Sagan is difficult with even the best odds sitting at 3/1 (Paddy Power). 

Despite being the clear favourite, the road has told a different story with the Slovakian struggling with illness at Tirreno-Adriatico and then seemingly failing to have the legs in the sprint finish at Milan-San Remo.

It's perfectly plausible that Sagan will win Flanders, in fact, it's highly likely, but at such short odds, you're better off spending your money elsewhere.

Deceuninck-QuickStep are looking to take a third consecutive victory at De Ronde following Gilbert and Terpstra's exploits in 2017 and 2018.

No team has managed back-to-back-to-back Flanders titles since the little-known Dilecta team who took the 1930 title with Frans Bonduel and the 1931 and 1932 races with Romain Gijssels

A tough task but probably within reach of Patrick Lefevere's all-conquering Classics men.

Philippe Gilbert attacking at the 2017 Tour of Flanders

Philippe Gilbert powers up the Kwaremont en route to victory in 2017

Philippe Gilbert sits as favourite among the Deceuninck-QuickStep team priced at 7/1 (BetVictor) while an in-form Zdenek Stybar, who has already won Omloop Het Niuewsbald and E3-BinckBanck this Spring, is currently priced at a healthy 7/1 (William Hill).

However, we fancy the chances of home favourite Yves Lampaert, the current Belgian national champion. He can be had at 50/1 (BetVictor) currently and is almost certainly worth an each-way flutter.

If QuickStep falter, which is unlikely but plausible, quick on their heels will be Greg Van Avermaet of the CCC Team. Being Flemish, he is desperate to add Flanders to his palmares and now at 33, time is ticking for this to happen.

His form is so-so currently and Milan-San Remo would have come as a disappointment considering he missed the move on the Poggio. He raced well at E3 but was surprisingly beaten in a sprint to the line by Stybar.

The best price has him currently at 13/2 (Bet365) so, like Sagan, he would best be avoided if you're after making any money.

Another Flandrien is Oliver Naesen. Unlike Van Avermaet, he is in fine form and among the favourites at 9/1 (Ladbrokes). Short odds but Naesen looks dead set to do well at Flanders so could be worth at least a pound or two.

Defending champion Terpstra now rides at ProContinental-level Direct Energie but still has the firepower on the cobbles. He's 17/1 (William Hill) currently, which is a decent price for a double Monument winner.

If Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski races Flanders - which may or may not happen - he is always worth a punt, especially at 25/1 (Bet365), as is Alejandro Valverde who is also 25/1 (Paddy Power) and will lead Movistar at the race.

Mathieu van der Poel is also making his Tour of Flanders debut and he so happens to be really good at riding bikes. In fact, he is so good, he is Cyclist's tip to take the victory. Just refer to his fourth place at Gent-Wevelgem, his first WorldTour race of the season.

Priced at 16/1 (Betfair), he is also worth a few quid each-way, trust us.

Another cyclocross star at Flanders is Wout van Aert. An impressive ninth in last year's race and sixth at San Remo last weekend, Van Aert is getting closer to taking Monument glory. He was very impressive at E3 and GEnt-Wevelgem this weekend.

Snap up the triple cyclocross World Champion at 8/1 (Sky Bet).

As is customary when betting, a consideration to those deemed 'outsiders' has been given and we think we have found some very good value.

While he may not take victory, we reckon Alberto Bettiol may ride well at Flanders.

He is getting better and better in the Spring Classics, fourth at E3-BinckBank proved that. The punchy bergs suit his capabilities and with no clear team leader for the race, he may be afforded a few opportunities of his own.

The Italian has odds of 50/1 (Bet365) and is definitely worth a couple of pounds each-way if you fancy rooting for an underdog.

Cyclist takes no responsibility for bets placed or resulting losses. Always remember to gamble responsibly. When the fun stops, stop.