2012 Tour of Flanders Odds and Betting Preview: Bookies predict epic duel between Boonen and Cancellara
By Tristan Wootton on 2012-03-30 08:27:52
BRUGES, BELGIUM - The Tour of Flanders kicks off an epic month of April for cycling fans on Sunday, and the bookmakers predict a tense battle between former winners Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen in the first spring classic.
The 96th edition of the Tour of Flanders (De Ronde Van Vlaanderen) is 254.4km in distance, and takes the peloton from Bruges to the picturesque town of Oudenaarde. Nine of the previous 14 winners have been Belgians, but in terms of the betting it can throw up the odd surprise result, as punters struggle to weigh-up the early season form - it is only the eighth race of the 2012 UCI Tour.
Swiss legend Fabian Cancellara heads the betting with the majority of firms at 5/2, but is best-priced at 11/4 with Paddy Power and BetVictor. Cancellara won the race two years ago, despite having to change his bike 50km from the finish, as he got the better of Boonen and Gilbert. He has since moved from Saxo Bank to RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (what a mouthful, but their Twitter is simplified to @RSNT) and looks to have another big chance in the race, but he has been extremely unlucky recently and was a beaten favourite in this race last year.
Punters must been expecting a healthy return on their Cancellara wagers last year when he attacked with Chavanel, but in the end he got out-sprinted by Nick Nuyens. His recovery does not look promising on the face of recent results, but he has valid excuses for his last few races - he crashed and endured technical problems in the GP E3, whilst the Gent-Wevelgem finished in a mass sprint. He is in decent form and has clearly been targeting the Tour of Flanders, so for us it would not be a big surprise to see him turn the tables on his old foe Tom Boonen.
Some will feel that Tom Boonen deserves to be a clear favourite, but he is best-priced at 14/5 with bet365, which is a shade shorter than 3/1. However this year the final circuits take in the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, which ought to give the initiative to Cancellara, who is a more complete rider than Boonen. Many are predicting that the race will not be settled be a sprint, and if that does prove to be the case then Boonen is up against it, as Cancellara is unlikely to be giving his adversary any recovery time on Sunday. Whilst Boonen is in top form, it could pay to look elsewhere for someone more explosive - but given Cancellara’s recent spate of bad luck, you could be forgiven for avoiding the first two in the betting, even if the press will bill it as a straight match-up.
If you do want to take on Cancellara and Boonen, then Skybet’s quote of 5/6 about ‘the field’ is certainly a smart play, in which you have every other runner on your side. Luck could well come into it, and one beneficiary could be Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, who has been a popular wager following his romp in the Three Days of De Panne. The French champion opened up at 25/1 with Paddy Power two weeks ago, but is now best-priced at 16/1 with Ladbrokes and BlueSQ. Chavanel was second in the race last year, but his task on Sunday may be to protect Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mate Boonen from Cancellara’s attacks. Having said that, that job may lie with Dutchman Niki Terpstra, who has been in cracking form this year, and is even quoted at 50/1 with Boylesports to win himself.
Just ahead of Chavanel is the third favourite Peter Sagan at 11/1 with Sportingbet. The Slovak was fourth in the Milan-San Remo and also took the opening stage of Three Days of De Panne. At just 22-year-old he could be the cat amongst the pigeons if the peloton show any sign of nerves as they take in the new finale to the race, but even if it does boil down to a sprint it is hard to see him turning the tables on Boonen from the Gent–Wevelgem last weekend. If you like Sagan, then he is probably best at 9/1 with Skybet who are paying out four places for each-way bets (i.e. has to finish in the first four to make a profit).
Sep Vanmarcke is certainly interesting at 25/1 with bet365, having managed to beat Boonen in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He is probably Garmin’s best chance in this, but this time he will also have to face a determined Fabian Cancellara.
Matti Breschel and Filippo Pozzato are both at 28/1 with Boylesports, whilst Philippe Gilbert may tempt some in at 28/1 with bet365, but the Belgian legend has been in shocking form this year.
Boasson Hagen is another one for each-way players to consider at the 33/1 mark, whilst 66/1 poke Thor Hushovd will be saving himself for the Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.
The final mention goes to John Degenkolb who rides for Project 1t4i. The German was fifth in the Milan-San Remo and has been cut into 66/1 from 100/1 by Boylesports for an epic win. Erik Zabel said that ‘we will hear from him again at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix’, so with that in mind the 80/1 with Paddy Power could be worth taking.
The Tour of Flanders starts at 10.00am local time, and should finish just after 4pm. It is live on Eurosport.