2012 Milan-San Remo betting
What is it about Milan-San Remo
There is a constant debate on what truly signifies the start of the cycling season. The Tour Down Under? Omloop Het Nieuwsblad? Paris-Nice? While these have been interesting to watch this year no rider builds their season around them. That can be said of this Saturday’s edition of Milan-San Remo. It did not take long for Mark Cavendish to say that it was major goal of his season after winning the worlds championships. What makes this race so special? Quite simply it is the perfectly poised race between the sprinters and attacking riders. Last year’s race was the perfect example of that.
Some key links to look at before betting
The official start list is here
The profile of the race is here
All the odds the bookmakers are offering are here
Weather forecast for Saturday is here (rain likely)
The past results of the race.
It is a hard race to call but we do have the advantage of almost two months worth of racing to judge riders form. Here is a look at some of the leaders in the betting market (in order of shortest price):
Mark Cavendish: The strong favorite and former winner of this race has a very strong team. Four of HTC team that lead him to victory in 2009 are in the line up. As our three other strong workers in the form of Hayman, Hunt and Thomas. Cavendish has four wins already this year and in those wins he has eased to victory in the sprints. There is no doubt in my mind that if he gets over the Poggio in the lead group he will win. I have doubts however about his climbing form. He has claimed a lot this season that he is great shape for this time of year compared to the last two years. This has not translated into results on tougher stages so far this season. So either he is bluffing or does not have form, you decide. Some have backed some have layed him. We will find out on Saturday which is the wiser option.
Peter Sagan: Many are saying that Sagan is unproven under this sort of distance. I disagree. He rode strongly last year, making the split early on and just losing contact on the Poggio and ending up 17th. That was a very impressive debut performance in the race. His form this year is very encouraging. Most impressive was his win on stage four of Tirreno-Adriatico. There he won an incredibly tough stage after just under seven and half hours in the saddle. His team is strong and if Nibali covers the moves on the Poggio and it ends up in a sprint and Cavendish is not there I fancy Sagan to win.
Fabian Cancellara: A lot of people forget that Cancellara is actually a good sprinter. He came second here last year and sprinted to fourth at the Worlds last year. The common perception that he has to attack on the Poggio and win the race alone This is not true, he can win from a smaller group if enough top quality sprinters have been dropped. He clearly has great form when you take into account his performance in winning Strade Bianche. And the fact he won the closing 9.4km time trial stage at Tirreno-Adriatico by an impressive margin of 12 seconds, he has to be a strong favourite. His team is able to provide him good support here in the form of Gallopin, Bennati, Irizar and Roulston. I am happy that I managed to back him at 16/1 earlier in the week. He is now into 8/1 but I think that is still good value for money.
Edvald Boasson Hagen: Team Sky’s back up plan to Mark Cavendish. He has the attributes to get a result in the race. But he has never finished better than 30th in this race. He has ridden well this year; climbing well when needed to and still proving to be a fast finisher on stage 3 of Tirreno. I am not keen on him here.
Oscar Freire: Three time winner here and often pulls out a result when you least expect it. When I saw him finish second to Cavendish on stage 2 of Tirreno I took note. When @TourDeJose said that she was going to back him I checked his odds and was extremely surprised that he was 25/1. Who could not back him at that price? He has not shortened to 16/1 but I would still back him.
Tom Boonen: He has shown strong form in the sprints and the cobbled roads already this year. Boonen has never won this race but finished on the podium twice in 2010 and 2007. Both times he was beaten by Oscar Freire. I think Tom is just not canny enough of a rider (like Freire is) to win this race. I see him making a small mistake that will blow his chances.
Andre Griepel: The only man who can really beat Cavendish in top form in a heads up sprint. I struggle to see him getting over the Poggio with the front group.
Phillipe Gilbert: His form suggests that he is struggling to regain his stunning shape of last year. He way well have the legs to stay in the front select group but I can’t see him attacking and holding off people to win alone nor win a sprint in a group larger than one. BMC should work for Van Avermaet and attack and attack on all the climbs in the last 30kms.
Matt Goss: For me he has no hope in retaining his title. His form coming into this race last year was a lot more impressive; he had won a stage at the Tour Down Under, Oman and Paris-Nice. He has only really contested one sprint so far this year finishing sixth on stage three of Tirreno. It will be interesting to see how GreenEDGE approach their debut in a monument.
Heinrich Haussler: I really like the Garmin-Barracuda line up for this race, it has a really nice mix of riders. Haussler is one heck of a rider but has struggled to match his stunning year of 2009 where he was one of the most consistent (and unlucky riders) in the classics and won an epic Tour de France stage. This year there is a lot of talk from him (and from his team) about being back to his best. He has not won a sprint this year but has won bunch gallops behind groups up the road in Paris-Nice and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. This may be all he can hope for on Saturday.
Greg Van Avermaet: I backed him last year at 40/1 and at one point it looked like he would win when he attacked at the Poggio. In hindsight he went to early but he clearly had the form. He should have learnt from that and he comes into this race with similar respectable form as he had last year. With Hushovd no longer starting he should go in as co-leader with Gilbert and I see him as the stonger of the two. Worth a punt at 80/1
Sascha Modolo: Surprised many in 2010 when as a neo-pro he finished 4th here. 29th last year so this is clearly a race he likes. Quiet this year but that is due to the smaller amount of races his team rides. The majority of them will be riding for him and he could spring a surprise again. At 66/1 it is worth a flutter each way.
Long Shots: Danielle Bennati has shown good form this year but may well have to sacrifice his chances for his team mate Cancellara. Matti Breschel showed a slight return to form at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but did not contest any sprints at Tirreno. Saving himself or did not have the legs? Vincenzo Nibali has said he will attack but it would be an incredible ride if won it. Look at the past winners of the race, no rider who has recently won it fit the Nibali mold.
My selections (Prices correct as of 15th March at 11pm)
Peter Sagan at 7/1 10 points for the win only (Stan James)
Fabian Cancellara 8/1 5 points each way (BetVictor, Ladbrokes and Sporting Bet) Note: I got him at 16/1 earlier in the week but would still back him at 8s or less.
Oscar Freire 16/1 5 points each way (Stan James) Another one I got at better odds earlier in the week. I would still back him at any thing more than 10/1.
Sascha Modolo 66/1 5 points each way
Van Avermaet 80/1 5 points each way
Both backed with Boylesports as they are paying our first four places for 1/5 of the odds.