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Tour de France 2011: Stage 4 Betting

Stage 3 saw Tyler Farrar win his first ever stage of the Tour de France. The usually ultra-efficient HTC-Highroad train came unstuck around the final corner with 300m remaining, somehow managing to lose Mark Cavendish off the back, leaving six riders clear in the final stretch. The three Garmin Cervelo riders – Thor Hushovd, Julian Dean and Tyler Farrar – stayed together beautifully around the final bend, lead by the hugely experienced Norwegian, and from that position, there was no stopping Farrar.


Behind him, Vacansoleil rider, Romain Feillu made a desperate last gasp attempt to try and pip him on the line, but after a photo finish, he was confirmed as the second placed rider, followed in by the new green jersey wearer, Jose Joaquin Rojas.

Despite being well behind into the final 300m, Mark Cavendish came absolutely flying through, and following his performance in the intermediate sprint, showed that he is in good form and will be a force to be reckoned with on future sprint finishes.

Stage 4 sees the peloton leave from Lorient and head inland along a series of twisting roads and small hills before finishing at the summit of the Mur-de-Bretagne. The finish comes at the end of a difficult 2km climb, which will rule out any of the sprinters winning this stage.

The huge favourite with the bookmakers is the Belgian, Philippe Gilbert, who will fancy his chances of picking up his second stage win of this year’s Tour. Put simply, virtually every race that he has set out to win this season, he has. He is in imperious form as of late and this finish will suit him perfectly. However, he is a best price of 4/6 (Stan James), which is a little short given that he was around 6/4 to win the opening stage.


Outside of the Belgian, expect some of the big names to try and make an impact for the first time. In particular, the reigning champion, Alberto Contador, may fancy his chances to boost the moral of the team and strike an early psychological blow by looking to attack the likes of Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Jurgen van den Broeck up the steep finish. While he is unlikely to make up much time, even a few seconds would send a message to his rivals that he can leave them behind when the incline increases.

Again, as in Stage 1, the same names might fancy themselves for an outside chance of victory. Alexandre Vinokourov (best price 27/1 with Unibet) and Thomas Voeckler (best price 44/1 with Unibet) both found themselves in good positions coming into the final section of the stage before fading back, and they may both fancy going for the breakaway win at the end in this stage as well.


Along with Contador, Samuel Sanchez was the only other big name to lose time in the first stage pile-up and he may be looking to try and prove that he can make up time in the hills as well. Although better known as a master descender, he is perfectly capable going uphill as well and may look to latch onto Contador if he makes a move.

Cadel Evans finished 2nd in the first stage, but is more likely to try and adopt a defensive strategy in this stage to prevent others from attacking. He is clearly past his peak and is likely to try and limit any losses and save his stamina for the real mountains.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the natural climbers decide to stretch their legs on the final short ascent. The likes of John Gadret, Rein Taaramae and Rigoberto Uran have been fairly quiet thus far, but might fancy the chance to make a move to test their form ahead of the mountains.


Philippe Gilbert is the huge favourite for this stage and given his form so far, he will be incredibly difficult to stop. Even if one of the big guns, most likely Alberto Contador, attacks up the slope, he should be able to stay with them and push clear on the slightly flatter final few hundred metres. However, as we saw today with Cavendish, there is always a chance that things can go wrong for the big favourites, so it is worth keeping an eye on a few of the other contenders.

Bets

Alberto Contador to win Stage 4 E/W @ 14/1 (Paddy Power)
Samuel Sanchez to beat Damiano Cunego @ 11/10 (Pinnacle)
Rein Taaramae to beat Robert Gesink @ 6/4 (Bet365)
Jurgen van den Broeck to beat Frank Schleck @ 8/11 (Stan James)


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