Plenty of riders in contention for the yellow jersey

With the Tour de France, the best three weeks of any cycling fan’s year, firmly underway you may want to make things even more interesting with a bet.

With the first time trial stage of two out of the way in the 2017 Tour de France route Froome currently holds a 12 second lead on his rivals.

Originally the favourite by default, Froome has saved himself for the Tour recording no wins in his run up. However, some smart cycling has seen him and a few other names, some unexpected, prop up the leader board.

Chris Froome: 4/6 at Paddy Power

For the first time since he became a GC contender, Chris Froome will head in to the Tour de France without a victory to his name so far in the season.

However despite finishing a disappointing fourth this year Critérium du Dauphiné, Froome has started the Tour well keeping himself out of trouble but gaining time in both the initial time trial and stage five where he gained some useful bonus seconds for finishing third.

Richie Porte: 5/1 at William Hill

Richie Porte in yellow at the Critérium du Dauphiné (Credit: ASO/Broadway)

Having been at 2/1 prior to the start of the Tour, Richie Porte has slipped back in the bookies’ estimation to 5/1. Stage five was rumoured to be the launchpad of the Australian’s campaign.

>>> Richie Porte: ‘Chris Froome obviously didn’t want to see me win. You don’t forget that for July’

Unfortunately, Porte found himself wanting as Froome edged over the line ahead him to take the last of the bonus seconds.

With a lot of racing still to come, Porte will be quietly optimistic after winning the Tour de Romandie on the back of strong climbing and time trialling performances, and coming very close at the Dauphiné.

If he can avoid bad luck and losing time on innocuous looking flat stages then he will be Froome’s main challenger.

Nairo Quintana: 25/1 at BoyleSports

At the start of the year Quintana was aiming to do what no rider had done since 1998 and win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year.

>>> Nairo Quintana heads to Alps to preview key Tour de France climbs

After missing out on the Giro, the Colombian skipped racing before the Tour and has been quiet so far, waiting for the race to take on the longer climbs of the Alps where his climbing talent can do its thing.

Sitting in ninth at just 54 seconds, Quintana may just be biding his time despite what the odds may say.

Alberto Contador: 33/1 at various

Ten years on from his first Tour de France triumph, Alberto Contador looked in great form in the early season, finishing second in the Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Tour of the Basque Country.

After finishing 11th at this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, many may have written him off.

However, El Pistolero showed he still has something to give on stage five as he quietly fought back on a climb that wasn’t to his liking, moving just 52 seconds behind Froome, lying in eighth.

Jakob Fuglsang: 50/1 at Paddy Power

Jakob Fuglsang wins the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné (Credit: Sunada)

Perhaps not even Jakob Fuglsang would have put Jakob Fuglsang’s name forward as a Tour contender three weeks ago, but the Dane pulled off a courageous and unexpected victory at the Dauphiné to put himself firmly in the mix.

Unfortunately for the Dane, team leader Fabio Aru’s cracking victory on stage five has meant that all the racing eggs are firmly in Aru’s basket.

Expect Fuglsang to return to domestique duties and help Aru get into yellow.

Fabio Aru: 9/2 at Ladbrokes

Fabio Aru at the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné (Credit: ASO/Broadway)

After being forced to miss the Giro d’Italia with a knee injury, Fabio Aru headed to the Tour as part of a two-pronged Astana attack with Fuglsang.

That all changed after Aru’s determined attack up La Planche des Belles Filles took his rivals by surprise. The win propelled him into third place just 14 seconds off Froome and made the bookies slash their odds on an overall victory.

Dan Martin: 25/1 at various

Dan Martin on stage five of the Tour de France 2017 Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Once a stark outsider, Dan Martin has arrived to the party with a strong second place finish on stage five getting his hands on some valuable bonus seconds.

In the run up to the Tour de France the Irishman had posted several good results including third at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice and second at both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Flèche Wallone.

Romain Bardet: 25/1 at various

Romain Bardet at the 2017 Volta a Catalunya (Credit: Sunada)

Runner up in the 2016 Tour, Romain Bardet looks like a very attractive option with odds as long as 25/1, especially considering the lack of time trialling kilometres in this year’s route.

The Frenchman currently sits in seventh, just 42 seconds off the pace with some big hills still to come. An excellent descender as well as a climber, Bardet is sure to also enjoy the challenging descents that come near the end of stages nine and 17.

Others

Geraint Thomas at the 2017 Giro d’Italia (Credit: Sunada)

Among the rest of the riders, Geraint Thomas who had worn the yellow for the first four stages sits at 66/1 while Esteban Chaves, and Louis Meintjes are sitting at around 100/1. Thomas will likely only get a chance if bad luck befalls Froome, while Chaves’ form is unknown after an anonymous Dauphiné which was his first race since February.

Rafal Majka, fresh from winning the Tour de Slovénie, is at 80/1, while Simon Yates and Mikel Landa are all at 66/1 to 100/1.

Odds correct as of July 6.