Britain’s Mark Cavendish, wearing the best sprinter’s green, celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 160.6 kilometers (99.8 miles) with start in Tours and finish in Chateauroux, France, Thursday, July 1, 2021. (Stephane Mahe, Pool Photo via AP)
- Will Mark Cavendish make Tour de France history with a Stage 12 sprint victory on Thursday, July 8?
- Could weather impact Thursday’s flat, 161-kilometer stage between Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and Nîmes?
- Is there betting value playing against Cavendish, the heavy favorite?
Mark Cavendish is chasing history. On Tuesday he won his third stage of this year’s Tour de France. That makes 33 in his illustrious career, one shy of all time record holder Eddy Merckx. Will Cavendish etch his name in the history books on Stage 12?
Cavendish was mostly a spectator on Wednesday, doing what he had to survive the Tour’s double ascent of Mont Ventoux. Wout Van Aert won the day, attacking from the breakaway, and holding off Kenny Elissonde and Bauke Mollema by 74 seconds.
Thursday’s route, largely flat with one Category 3 test in the middle of the route, profiles as a sprint finish, and another great opportunity for Cavendish. But the Rhône Valley is known for variable weather, and particularly nasty winds. How will that play into the stage?
Regardless of the variables, Cavendish (+150) is a heavy favorite when things get going (7:40 am ET) on Stage 12. That makes some other riders rather tempting prices. Let’s looks closely at the updated odds.
Tour de France Stage 12 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Wout Van Aert||+450||+100|
Odds as of July 7th.
Wednesday was the most anticipated day of this year’s Tour. Mont Ventoux is legendary, and traversing it twice is special. The drama of the day was not Van Aert winning, he looked strong from the start and broke away on the final climb. Meanwhile, race leader Tadej Pogacar was attacked and even dropped on the same uphill by Jonas Vingegaard. However, Pogacar recovered on the descent, caught up to Vingegaard, and finished fourth on the day. With Ben O’Connor struggling on Stage 11, Pogacar now leads his closest pursuer by more than five minutes.
Pogacar holds a 5:18 edge over Rigoberto Uran with Vingegaard another 14 seconds back. Richard Carapaz is in fourth place, 5:33 off the pace. O’Connor drops from second to fifth position. He’s 5:58 behind Pogacar.
The wide open undulating course on Thursday, baring major weather issues, should set up for sprinters. Just past the halfway mark of the stage riders tackle the Côte du belvédère de Tharaux, a 4.4 kilometres uphill at 4.6%. The sprint point on the stage is oddly less than 30km from the finish line.
Let’s highlight some contenders on Stage 12.
There has been great attrition among the sprinters in this year’s race. While top speedsters have suffered injuries and dropped out, Cavendish has looked like the rider that made him a star a decade ago.
Cavendish passionately wants to win two more stages. One to equal Merckx, and another to pass him. Stage 12 and 13 are designed for sprinters, as are Stages 19 and 21. A lot can happen in a week of the race, particularly since three serious mountain days come between Stage 13 and 19. There is no guarantee Cavendish can survive more big climbs. He’ll be all out to win the next two days, set the record, and take the pressure off.
UEFA Euro 2020 Odds Tracker
There could be an opportunity for Van Aert to win back-to-back days. Sure, Stage 11 was serious climbing, and Stage 12 looks more like a sprint, but Van Aert is incredibly versatile, and clearly in good form.
Team Jumbo–Visma could have been in disarray when Primoz Roglic got in an accident early this year and was never a factor. Instead, they have put their resources behind van Aert. Wednesday was his fourth career stage victory, in his third Tour de France.
Nacer Bouhanni continues to be close. There have been four sprints thus far in the race, and he has finished second twice, third once, and fourth once. Though he continues to seek his first Tour de France stage victory, he has pocketed six wins on Grand Tours.
Bouhanni has not won a stage at a Ground Tour since 2018. That said, he is one of the few true sprinters left in the field, and remains in the mix each time the field dashes for the finish line.
Peter Sagan is an incredibly decorated rider who probably is past his prime at the age of 31. Seven times he has won the Points Classification at the Tour de France, and 12 times he has won a stage of the race. While he hasn’t done anything notable in this year’s race, there is good reason to think at a price Thursday could be the day.
While Sagan has always been a capable sprinter, what he does best is work as a tactician. The more variables, the better. He is excellent at reading and reacting. Wind helps Sagan. The Category 3 climb benefits him. He won the points race at this year’s Giro, and surely is looking for the right stage to make his mark.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.