Chris Froome is 20/1 to win the road race in the Cycling World Championships on Sunday. Even taking into account the odds being framed with patriotic support in mind that looks a price worth taking, especially as the place terms of one quarter the odds for the first three means Froome is 5/1 for a podium finish. The Tour de France winner excels in the mountains and the route at the weekend includes tough climbs.
Froome became the second British cyclist to win the Tour de France in July. Sir Bradley Wiggins set the precedent and the most recognisable face in the sport has targeted the time trial in the world championships so Froome will be the shortest British entrant in the road race in Florence. Both Brits ride for Team Sky so an interesting subplot over the next 9 months is who will be selected to be the principle rider in next year’s Tour.
The winner of the Tour de France overall classification is presented with the iconic yellow jersey and for British cycling the race has provided some memorable moments over the last two years. Wiggins stood in front of thousands of French people and said he would announce the winner of the raffle in 2012 and Froome rode into Paris with a full champagne glass and cigar this year.
The race on Sunday will suit Froome as it is long at just over 270km and the climbs will be demanding especially after six hours of racing. The route includes 10 circuits of Florence and a total of more than 58km of climbing which equates to an average mountain stage in the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia. Froome was part of Team Sky that won the bronze medal in the team trial last Sunday.
Froome will have the support of Geraint Thomas, an Olympic track champion who will try to stay with him for the first 200 km and then drop back to allow his team mate to take control of the race. Thomas’s role will be similar to that of the ‘domestques’ in the Tour de France who ride with the sole objective of setting up stages for the number one rider in the team. Sir Bradley should be close to Froome towards the end of the race.
Thomas has never ridden the course before but that should not be an issue as he is not taking part to win the race himself. He has a thankless but key task as his objectives will be to keep Froome out of the wind, stay with him in the event of a toilet break or help him to rejoin the peloton after a puncture or mechanical fault. Thomas will not win the event but must ride a perfect race if Froome is to land the odds.