Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) are the bookies favourites to take victory in this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders despite only picking up one Classics win between them this spring.
While 12 months ago Van Avermaet had dominated the early spring Classics, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem, the Belgian has only picked up one podium placing on the cobbles this year, meaning that the best odds available are around 6/1.
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Sagan has been in slightly better form, out-sprinting Elia Viviani to win Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday, and is therefore the favourite to repeat his Flanders victory from 2016 with odds of around 3/1.
As for the defending champion Philippe Gilbert, who took victory in the 2017 edition of the Tour of Flanders with a stunning long-range solo attack, the Quick-Step Floors rider is available at odds of around 7/1, while team-mates Niki Terpstra (14/1), Zdenek Stybar (20/1), and Yves Lampaert (66/1) might all prove good value.
Watch: Cobbled Classics essential guide 2018
There are two other former winners in the race, with Alexander Kristoff being tipped at around 20/1 to repeat his 2015 triumph, while two-time winner Stijn Devolder is not fancied to turn back the clock and repeat his 2008 and 2009 victories with odds of 550/1.
Other riders who the bookies are picking to be near the front of affairs are Michal Kwiatkowski (11/1), Tiesj Benoot (12/1), and Sep Vanmarcke (20/1).
Elsewhere there are a number of riders who it certainly won’t be worth a flutter on, including Fernando Gaviria, whose odds of 80/1 might be attractive were he not sitting at home nursing a broken hand from his crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, and Sylvain Chavanel who is available at 100/1 but might lack team support as Direct Energie won’t be taking part in the race.
Other riders that certain bookies are offering odds on include “Andre Greiple”, “Edward Thenus”, and “Aert Van Wout”, none of whom will be making the cut into any of our race previews.
The 2018 Tour of Flanders takes place in Belgium on Sunday, April 1. The gruelling 260.8km route includes 18 climbs and cobbled sectors. Crashes and mechanical mishaps can play as much a part of the race as strength, stamina and tactics.