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3 favorites and 1 sleeper in the 2019 Tour de France

Injuries have created opportunities for a host of riders in France. We break down some favorites and a sleeper.

Le Tour de France 2015 - Stage Twenty One Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

One of the most difficult sporting events in the world kicks off on Saturday, July 6 when the 2019 Tour de France gets underway in Belgium. It will wrap up 22 days later on the Champs-Élysées in Paris after a grinding challenge throughout France.

This year’s race features uncertainty following Chris Froome’s significant injury in mid-June and Tom Dumoulin’s absence due to a knee injury suffered at the Giro d’Italia. Froome, a four-time Tour champion, broke a leg, ribs, and an elbow during a pre-race ride of the fourth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. He is expected to make a full recovery, but he will not be participating in this year’s Tour de France. Dumoulin tried to work his way back to compete in the Tour, but had too many setbacks to get ready in time.

Their departures open the door for several notable riders. The Westgate SuperBook released updated odds following Froome’s crash, and has updated them again heading into race week. SB Nation cycling enthusiast Louis Bien will be on hand for the Tour, and has provided a look at some key names to know this week. He breaks down three favorites and a sleeper to prepare you for the 2019 Tour de France.

Favorite: Geraint Thomas

Thomas is the safest bet as the reining Tour winner and presumptive leader of Team Ineos (formerly Sky) following Froome’s withdrawal. Be careful about being too bull-ish on a 33-year-old who needed to a lot to go right last year, however. This Tour is being trumpeted as the “highest ever,” and if there’s a knock on Thomas it’s his ability to stay with uber-elite climbers. He’s a helluva racer, though, and two time trials should ensure he finishes near the podium, at the very least.

Next favorites: Egan Bernal and Jakob Fuglsang

If not Thomas (who crashed during the Tour de Suisse, and was forced to abandon just under three weeks before the Tour), then Bernal and Fuglsang should be considered the next favorites to win. Both are unproven at the Grand Tour level, however. Bernal, just 22, has the potential to be a Grand Tour force for years to come, and he’ll have Team Ineos’ might behind him. Fuglsang, meanwhile, is 34 and has never finished in the top 10 of a Grand Tour, but his win at the Criterium du Dauphiné, perhaps the Tour’s best predictor of success, suggests that he’s on the form of his life. In what might be a wide open Tour, these two have the hottest hands.

Sleeper: Richie Porte

Depending on the year, Porte is either wildly overvalued or undervalued. His story is always the same, however: if he stays on his bike, he’ll be a contender to win. That’s a big if. He entered the 2018 Tour among the favorites, and crashed out with a broken collarbone on Stage 9. That makes three DNFs in his last six Grand Tour attempts, including the last two Tours. He has burned a lot of trust any bettors had left in him, which perhaps makes him a tantalizing pick again ... if you can stand stress of watching him.

2019 Tour de France odds

Geraint Thomas: 9-4
Egan Bernal: 11-2
Jakob Fuglsang: 11-2
Adam Yates: 12-1
Richie Porte: 14-1
Nairo Quintana: 16-1
Thibaut Pinot: 18-1
Mikel Landa: 20-1
Steven Kruijswijk: 20-1
Enric Mas Nicolau: 25-1
Romain Bardet: 25-1
Vincenzo Nibali: 30-1
Rigoberto Uran: 30-1
Wouter Poels: 40-1
Emanuel Buchmann: 60-1
Daniel Martin: 80-1
Alejandro Valverde: 80-1
Rohan Dennis: 80-1
Tejay Van Garderen: 100-1
Fabio Aru: 150-1
George Bennett: 200-1
Julian Alaphilippe: 200-1
David Gaudu: 250-1
Wilco Kelderman: 250-1
Rafal Majka: 250-1