It's never too early to look ahead to the big races of the 2017 season, so here are the early favourites for Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège
With the 2016 season drawing to a close with the World Championships and Abu Dhabi Tour it’s a perfect time to look ahead to the big races of 2017 and make some bold predictions as to who might fare well.
Of course, a lot can happen between now and April 2017, but the Classics season promises to be fascinating once more with big name riders looking to write themselves into the cycling history books.
Both Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège saw somewhat surprise winners in 2016, so will we see an outsider on the top of the podium again next year, or will the favourites return to power?
Many of the odds featured below can be found at www.onlinebookies.info. Odds are correct at the time of publishing
One of the jewels on the cycling calendar; Paris-Roubaix is one date that every cycling fan has circled on their wall chart.
Boonen, the four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, will be back for one last shot at a fifth crown before retiring at the end of April. The Belgian has not won one of the cobbled Monuments since his Roubaix/Tour of Flanders double in 2012, but has shown he still has the desire and the strength to win.
Few bookmakers have their prices up for the 2017 season just yet, but you can find Boonen at 8/1 with bwin, making him joint third favourite.
Unsurprisingly, 2016 Tour of Flanders winner Peter Sagan is the early favourite to add Paris-Roubaix to his already glittering palmares, with odds as low as 4/1. Perennial bridesmaid Sep Vanmarcke is second favourite at 7/1, although may be best for an each-way bet, given that he has finished second, third and fourth in the race since 2013.
Some early outside shots begin with Team Sky‘s Ian Stannard at a very generous 16/1, considering his fourth-place finish this season, and a further outsider could be Arnaud Démare, who has finished as high as 12th in the race before and is only improving with age. He’s available at 100/1, so could be worth a pop.
Wout Poels took Team Sky’s first ever Monument in 2016 when he took victory on a cold and wet Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but if the conditions are slightly more favourable next season the bookies believe we will see a return of an old favourite to the top of the podium.
Three-time winner Alejandro Valverde is the overwhelming favourite to take his fourth victory and regain the title he lost to Poels, with bwin offering the Spaniard at just 15/4.
The sheer length and difficulty of the course in the Ardennes means it’s not so easy to predict who will do well, but the bookmakers believe a host of the usual suspects will be challenging for the win.
Valverde’s heir apparent Julian Alaphilippe is at 5/1 to better his second-place finish of 2015 and continue his remarkable ascent in the ranks of the hilly Classics riders.
A pair of former winners, Poels and Dan Martin, are priced at 7/1, while Michal Kwiatkowski is at a tempting 14/1.
In terms of the outsiders, there aren’t many people that the bookies are offering odds on just yet, but Lotto-Soudal‘s Tim Wellens is an interesting prospect at 33/1, given his confidence in the hills and penchant for a late but well-timed attack.