It’s the climbers’ time to shine – but who will wear the rainbow bands next season?

As the World Championships in Innsbruck approach, the bookies are making their predictions about who will take home the rainbow bands.

This year, the climbers take centre stage after Slovakia’s Peter Sagan claimed the world title three times in a row.

With riders tackling climbs of up to 25 per cent gradient, the bookies’ favourites all go well up hill.

Top of the list is Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, who was flying in the Vuelta a España until the final mountain stages.

The 38-year-old fell off the podium of his national Grand Tour, but picked up two stages wins and won the points classification.

Oddschecker has the Spaniard as 9/2 favourite.

Next on the list of likely winners is Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who has been in the form of his life this season.

The 26-year-old won two stages at this year’s Tour de France as well as a stage and the overall at the 2018 Tour of Britain.

Alaphilippe is second favourite, with the 6/1 odds.

Other big names tipped for the win are Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, 16/1), Vuelta winner Simon Yates (Britain, 14/1) and Primož Roglič (Slovenia, 18/1).

In the elite men’s time trial, reigning world champion Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) is the hot pick, with 3/4 odds.

The next favourite for the TT is Australia’s Rohan Dennis, who notched up two emphatic solo victories at the Vuelta.

Bookies are giving Dennis 6/4 chance.

Riders also mentioned for the individual TT include Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus) at 25/1, Germany’ Tony Martin (28/1) and Gianni Moscon (Italy, 33/1).

At the time of writing, no odds for the women’s races or team time trial were available. Odds may be subject to change. 

Elite men’s road race odds (winner – Oddschecker)

Alejandro Valverde (9/2)

Julian Alaphilippe (6/1)

Simon Yates (14/1)

Vincenzo Nibali (16/1)

Primož Roglič (18/1)

Michal Kwiatkowski (20/1)

Wout Poels (25/1)

Adam Yates (25/1)

Daniel Martin (40/1)

Elite Men’s time trial (winner – Oddschecker)

Tom Dumoulin (3/4)

Rohan Dennis (6/4)

Vasil Kiryienka (25/1)

Tony Martin (28/1)

Gianni Moscon (33/1)

Maximilian Schachmann (33/1)

Stefan Kung (33/1)

Jonathan Castroviejo (33/1)

Nelson Oliveira (40/1)

Bob Jungels (50/1)