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Clasica San Sebastian  2015

San Sebastian, Spain
Sat 1st August, 219.2kms

valverde SSDonostia-Donostia Klasikoa as it's known to the locals takes place on Saturday the 1st August, less than one week since the end of the Tour de France. It is the 35th running of the race, so it's not exactly the oldest classic in the world, but has built a reputation as a tough and challenging race, favoured by climbers and puncheurs.

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TDF Stage 21

Sèvres to Paris Champs-Élysées
Sunday 26th July, 109.5kms 

Greipel tdf st2 2015

The final dash, the final chance of glory. 160 riders will make it to the start line in Sèvres, from the 198 that started. It's been a brutal Tour, it's been a good Tour, but not a great Tour, it was exciting right up to the penultimate stage when Nairo threw it down to Froome repeatedly until he finally cracked him. But congratulations where they are due, Froome got the job done. 

 

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TDF Stage 20

Modane Valfréjus to Alpe d'Huez
Saturday 25th July, 110.5kms 

alpedhuez orange

As Michael Jackson once said, "This is it"... The big finale, the Alpe d'Huez, the decider? Micky J was a big fan of cycling of course, 'Just beat it' was his motivational song about taking someone's Strava KOM and 'Farewell my summer love' was his lament to the end of the Tour de France every year. Anyway, I digress. It's Alpe d'Huez day!

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TDF Stage 17

Digne Les Bains to Pra Loup
Wed July 22nd, 161kms 

bardet-pra-loup

Back we go to the scene of the superb victory of Romain Bardet in the Critérium de Dauphiné back in June. This is an exact replica of the stage 5 of the Dauphiné, when Bardet attacked a few hundred meters from the top of the Col d'Allos and descended like a madman to put over a minute between him and the chasing pack. 

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TDF Stage 16

Bourg-de-Péage to Gap
Monday 20th July, 201kms 

manse signThe Alps approach, you can almost see Alpe d'Huez from Gap.. almost but it's still a long way until they get there next Sunday. This is a crazily open stage, a stage that really could be won by so many different riders, and this is reflected by the fact that the favourite, Alejandro Valverde, is as big as 16/1! 

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TDF Stage 15

Mende to Valence
Sunday 19th July, 183kms 

valenceThe last chance for the sprinters before Paris? Or will they even make it to the finish? It could be a day for the break too, so literally anything could happen on this stage - it could be all over for the sprinters inside the first 10kms as they start climbing straight from the off. It could be a frantic start and a crazy stage.  

 

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TDF Stage 14

Rodez to Mende
Saturday 18th July, 178.5kms 

MillauWill the climbing ever end?! This is supposed to be another 'transition' stage, but yet again they face a lumpy stage that ends with another 'Mur' at the finish, this time up the tough Col de la Croix Neuve, which averages 10.1% for 2kms! Despite the tired legs in the bunch there are sure to be some who have pencilled this stage in to their roadbooks as one to target. 

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TDF Stage 13

Muret to Rodez 

Friday 17th July, 198.5kms 

rodezSo we leave the Pyrenées behind and head towards the Massif Central with a lumpy stage that will still test the riders climbing legs. This stage has the air of a Classics race about it again, with a relatively calm opening that bulids up to a more challenging second half and an uphill, tough finish to the stage. 

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TDF Stage 11

Pau to Cauterets - Vallée de Saint-Savin

Wednesday 15th July, 188kms 

cauteretsThe second day of the Pyrenéean trilogy sees things taken up a notch in the climbing stakes. Tuesday's stage to La Pierre St Martin was just an appetiser in terms of metres climbed, with just the one hard climb. This stage has six climbs including the Haute Category Col du Tourmalet - the Souvenir Jacques Goddet for the highest point in the Tour at 2,115 metres.

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TDF Stage 10

Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin

Tuesday 14th July, 167kms 

st-martinSo the rest day is over, the Team Time Trial is done, now it's time for the mountains! It's been a fascinating first week with so much happening on a daily basis. There have been so many incidents and talking points and the race is teed up nicely going in to the second week. Chris Froome has held on to his leaders jersey, inherited from Tony Martin and goes in to the mountains with a healthy lead over his key rivals. 

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TDF Stage 9

Vannes to Plumelec 
Sunday 12th July, 28kms 

BMC-TTT-Trentino-roadA pivotal day potentially - the longest time trial and the last time trial of the race, could we see Tejay Van Garderen take over the yellow jersey thanks to his world champions team-mates? A stage similar to the TTT in the Critérium du Dauphiné which saw BMC lay down a marker ahead of the Tour.

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TDF Stage 8

Rennes to Mûr de Bretagne
Saturday 11th July, 181.5kms 

mur de bretagne2The first real battle among the GC candidates, or will they be keeping their powder dry ahead of the Team Time Trial on Sunday? This is the second Mûr that the riders will have faced this week, but this is a far different beast to the Mûr de Huy. It was last used in the Tour in 2011 when Cadel Evans led home a bunch of GC candidates and strong puncheurs like Gilbert.

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TDF Stage 7

Livarot to Fougères
Friday 10th July, 190.5kms 

martin break st6Fougères was the finish city for a Team Time Trial of a ridiculously long 73kms in 1985, when the La Vie Claire team with Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault destroyed the opposition and put 8 of their men in the top 10 of the GC. We're not far off the TTT on stage 9 here which could see another shake-up in the GC.

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TDF Stage 6

Abbeville to Le Havre 
Thursday 9th May, 191.5kms 

sagan whiteDespite what it looks like on paper, this could be an interesting stage for sure. It looks like a nice jaunt for 120kms along the coastline of the Seine-Maritime on the cliffs overlooking 'Le Manche', but if the wind blows in from the sea, they could be a chaotic and wild last 120kms. Luckily the conditions look like being kind to them. 

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TDF Stage 5

Arras to Amiens Métropole
Wed. 13th May, 189.5kms 

bouhanni2The first stage proper in France see them head south-west from Arras through the Pas de Calais region and on through the battlefields of the Somme on a day that we should see a battle among the sprinters. The area has lots of wide open fields though and with multiple changes of direction in the last 100kms, we could see echelons and splits again.

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TDF Stage 4

Seraing to Cambrai
Tuesday 7th July, 223.5kms 

boom tdf 2014A return to the cobbles after the drama of last year will spark divided opinion among fans and riders alike. Many riders were very much against the cobbles last year, Chris Froome even threatened not to ride the Tour because of them. After some riders complained as to how hard a stage was, but some riders, and most fans declared the stage a classic.

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TDF Stage 3

Anvers to Huy 
Monday 6th May, 159.5kms 

mur-du-huyWe're only three stages in, but this could be a pivotal stage for the GC for two reasons. Firstly, because the narrow roads and street furniture on the roads of Belgium are going to be dangerous, just ask Dan Martin or Philippe Gilbert who both crashed out of the Fleche-Wallone this year. 

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TDF Stage 2

Utrecht to Zélande, 166kms

Sunday July 5th

zelandStage 2 takes them from Utrecht to Zélande along the coast in a stage that stays entirely in the Netherlands. They pass along some of the roads used for the World Ports Classic, a race notorious for the strong cross winds as they ride along wide, exposed roads and bridges. It looks like a day for the sprinters but it's not guaranteed all sprinters will be involved given the likelihood of crosswinds and splits.

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Tour de France Other Markets 

A selection of other random bets

The Tour de France is the biggest race of the year in terms of the sheer number of markets on offer. No other race is given half as much attention by the bookies in the year, where sometimes we have to make do with a winners' market and not much else. 

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TDF Team Classification 

Can AG2R retain their title? 

yellow numbersThe Team Classification is a prize given to the best team in the race. It was first awarded in 1930, but there are no jerseys to be worn by the winning team, instead the riders get to wear a yellow coloured race number to distinguish them. Sometimes a team will wear a yellow helmet also but that's not a requirement, more a vanity thing.

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Tour de France Favourites

A Look at the main contenders for TDF 2015

tdf 15 top4

The 2015 Tour de France looks like it could be the most competitive and exciting in many a year. Last year's race was billed as being a battle between Contador and Froome, with Nibali a lively outsider, Nairo Quintana had skipped it after winning the Giro d'Italia. As it turned out, Chris Froome lasted less than a week and Contador not much longer, as bad crashes denied us the opportunity of seeing them battle it out with eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali. 

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Tour de France Outsiders 

Can anyone stop the Fab Four?

rodriguez ValverdeI have covered the Favourites in this other preview already, now let's take a look at the best of the rest to try to find someone who could possibly cause one of the shocks of the century by beating the four favourites. As I mentioned in the Favourites preview, there is apparently only about a 5% chance that the winner will come from all of the remaining 194 riders!

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Tour de France Jersey Betting 

Who's going to win the other key Jerseys?

TDF jerseys 2014The battle for the other leader's jerseys in the Tour de France are as keenly fought as the battle for the yellow jersey, with the sprinters jersey and the KOM jersey two of the most famous in cycling. There have been careers and legends made by winners of both of these jerseys over the years.   

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Critérium du Dauphiné 2015

Sunday June 7th to Sunday June 14th

dauphine logoThe Critérium du Dauphiné continues the build up to the 2015 Tour de France, which starts in just a month in Utrecht. Alberto Contador has laid down a marker with his victory in the Giro, now it's the turn of Chris Froome and reigning TDF champ Vincenzo Nibali to lock horns in the Ardeche.

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Giro d'Italia St 20

Saint Vincent to Sestriere
Saturday 30th May, 199kms 

sestriere

So just one more day of torture. One more day of climbing. One more day for a stage win if you're not a top sprinter. It's another brutal day in the saddle and another day where the hardest climb of the day is the penultimate climb rather than the final climb. It's also similar to the previous stage in that there are 150kms of flat nothingness and then an explosion of climbing in the last 50kms. 

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Giro d'Italia St.19

Gravellona Toce to Cervinia
Friday 29th May, 236kms 

2015 giro st19 profile

This is a monster stage at 236kms, on the third last day of a three week Giro. And not only is it long, it is bloody hard too. Ok, the first 150kms are pretty uneventful, bar a Cat 3 bump they need to get over after 85kms, but the final 86kms or so are pretty savage. Three Cat 1 climbs and over 3,250m of climbing in the last 86kms, it's going to be epi.

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TDF Stage 19

Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire - Les Sybelles
Friday 24th July, 138kms

tdf2015 st19 croixdeFer

A short stage today, at only 138kms, short maybe, but definitely not easy. The race is really cranking up now with some seriously hard climbing today - a Cat 2, two Cat 1s and a HC thrown in for good measure. The Autobus are going to have a long day in the saddle today as they immediately face a Cat 1 climb of 15kms, right from the start.

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Giro d'Italia St 18

Melide to Verbania
Thursday 28th May, 170kms 

visconti

A trip around the lakes today for the peloton, and for the first 124kms it is as flat as the previous day's stage, as they skirt around Lake Lugano and then Lago di Varese and Lago di Comabbio and finally the Lake Maggiore. As they reach Verbania with 110kms gone they turn away from the finish town and once again go along the shores of Lake Maggiore.

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TDF Stage 18

Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Thursday 23rd July, 186.5kms 

lacets de montvernier

The first day in the Alps didn't disappoint.. We expected drama, but didn’t expect a day like that! The writing was on the wall with regards Van Garderen’s chances of finishing the stage, let alone hanging in there on the GC battle, as early as the 5th kilometre when reports started filtering through that he was already some 2 minutes behind the peloton. and had been to the medical car.

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Giro d'Italia St 17

Tirano to Lugano
Wednesday 27th May, 134kms 

nizzolo

Today they start very close to the Swiss border in Tirano and end in Switzerland in Lugano. Even though Lugano is surrounded by mountains the stage is more or less flat bar a little Cat 3 lump inside the first 15kms. It has sprint written all over it, but that means nothing in this crazy Giro d'Italia.

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Giro d'Italia St 16

Pinzolo to Aprica
Tuesday 26th May, 177kms 

2015 Giro st16 profThe last rest day was followed by what was supposed to be a nice easy sprint stage, almost like a second rest day for the GC men and climbers. As it was, it turned out to be yet another dramatic and stressful day, yet another on this crazy Giro. This time around they hit the high mountains again, on a brutally hard day where they start climbing right from the outset.

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Giro d'Italia St 21

Torino to Milano
Sunday 31st May, 178kms 

Giro podium milan

The final stage will be a long celebration stage for Alberto Contador as they roll across billiard-table like flatlands for 175 boring kilometres until the final sprint in Milan. It's one day that I won't be complaining about the irritating habit of Eurosport not going to the live coverage as soon as they can, I think I'll tune in proper for the last hour at most. 

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Giro d'Italia St 14

Treviso to Valdobbiadene (ITT)
Saturday 23rd May, 59.4kms 

porte tt bikeSo this is it then, the long-awaited individual Time Trial that many saw as being hugely pivotal in deciding the winner of the Giro. It's just a shame then that it now looks like this is no longer the case, with Porte's untimely puncture and unfortuntate assistance from a mate has possibly denied us the chance to see Contador having to play catch-up in the final week. 

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Giro d'Italia St 12

Imola to Vicenza (Monte Berico) 
Thursday 21st May, 190kms 

vicenzaIf only Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Dan Martin or Dani Moreno were here it would be a bit easier to pick a winner of this stage, given the punchy finish. A final 500m at over 10% is a finish for specialists in short punchy affairs, but we could see two battles, one for the stage and one between the GC men for small time gains.

 

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TDF Stage 12

Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille

Thursday 16th July, 195kms 

plateau de beillePlateau de Beille - another legendary climb in the Tour's history. It has been used as a stage finish five times in the past, and on the first four occassions, the winner of the stage has gone on to win the race in Paris. Pantani in '98, Armstrong in '02 and '04, Contador in '07, with Jelle Vanendert breaking the run in 2011.

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Giro d'Italia St 11

Forlì to Imola (Autodromo Ferrari)

Wednesday 20th May, 153kms 

imolaStart your engines..! We head on a short run in a W shape from Forli to the Ferrari racetrack, where they hit the Tre Monti, not three, but four times. They do three laps of a 15km circuit at the end of the stage and the hilly course probably counts out a lot of sprinters on a day for the puncheurs. 

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Giro d'Italia St 10

Civatanvo Marche to Forli

Tuesday 19th May, 199kms 

citanovaRest day over and it's a nice, gentle re-introduction to racing, with probably one of the easiest and non-descript stages of the Giro. With barely a ripple in the road on the way to Forlì, the views should be spectacular, but the racing maybe a little less so. It should be a good battle among the Points Jersey contenders though. 

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Giro d'Italia St 9

Benevento to San Giorgio Del Sannio 
Sunday 17th May, 215kms 

beneventoAfter the stalemate and limited drama of the stage to Campitello Matese, the GC guys would be forgiven for taking a day off and rolling along in this stage. It looks a stage set for a breakaway win, with many lumps to get over in the day, including a long Cat 2 and a steep Cat 1 climb and a nasty little sting in the tail with 15kms to go.

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Giro d'Italia St 8

Fiuggi to Campitello Matese
Saturday 16th May, 186kms 

campitelloAfter a sprinters stage and a lumpy Milan-San-Remo type of stage, we're back in to the hills again with a summit finish up to Campitello Matese. The Giro traditionally has a hilly stage on the second Saturday of the race and this year is no different, with an afternoon TV treat in store with another battle between the big three. 

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Giro d'Italia St 7

Grosetto to Fiuggi
Friday 15th May, 264kms 

FiuggiThis is the longest stage of the Giro at a monster 264kms, one of the longest races in fact of the entire year. At 264kms it is longer than Paris-Roubaix and just 900m shorter than Paris-Roubaix. It's got a bit of the Milan-San-Remo about it with its distance and the increasing difficulty in the stage as it heads towards the finish. 

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Giro d'Italia St 6

Montecatini Terme to Castiglioni Della Pescaia 
Thursday 14th May, 183kms 

montecatineUnusually for a Grand Tour it has taken until stage 6 for the sprinters to get a second chance. Ordinarily they would have had 2, 3 or maybe even 4 sprint stages by now, but the Giro is no ordinary race of course. After two exciting days in the hills we're back on a relatively flat stage. 

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Giro d'Italia St 5

La Spezia to Abetone
Wed. 13th May, 152kms 

2015 Giro st5 Abetone2This is the Giro. And they love their climbs in the Giro, so how about hitting them with a nasty summit finish on just the fifth stage? Why not? We finally leave the Ligurian coast as they head in an S shape up in to the hills to Abetone, to a summit finish made famous by Fausto Coppi when he won his first Giro in 1940.

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Giro d'Italia St 4

Chiavari to La Spezia
Tuesday 12th May, 150kms 

la speziaThere aren't many more beautiful places in the world to finish a bike race in than this part of Italy and it would have killed off two of my life ambitions to have gone to this stage! To tour the Ligurian coast and to watch a stage of the Giro in Italy.. Maybe next year.. 

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Giro d'Italia St 3

Rapallo to Sestri Levante 
Monday 11th May, 136kms 

rapalloWe may only be on the 3rd stage, but what a profile greets the riders today as they already hit the mountains on a short but very tricky stage. They start and finish on the beautiful Ligurian coast but start climbing after just 2.5kms! It's the shortest stage of the race, but is sure to cause a lot of hurt to those who may be looking to ride themselves in to the race.

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Giro Miscellaneous Markets 

A selection of other bets that caught my eye!

Giro-logoI've done the Favourites and the Outsiders and who I think will win the Maglia Rosa, the Sprints jersey, the KOM jersey, the Young Riders jersey and the Team Classification. This particular page will just be a collection of other miscellaneous markets that I see bets I like in, updated throughout the Giro. 

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Giro d'Italia St 2

Albenga to Genova

Sunday 10th May, 177kms 

AlbengaA day for the sprinters but also one for someone to go for the first mountains jersey of the race, always a keenly fought contest. With two laps of a flat finishing circuit we should see the sprinters fight it out for the stage win, but with tight, twisty roads around the old city of Genova they need to watch out for race-ending crashes..

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Giro d'Italia Jersey Betting 

Who's going to win the other Leader's Jerseys?

giro-red-jersey
Not only is there a very distinct and unusual jersey for the leader of the race, a bright pink one, but there are also slightly unusual colours for the winners of the Mountains and Sprinters jerseys in the Giro. The leader of the sprints competition wears red, the leader of the King of the Mountains a deep blue jersey. At least the young riders stays white... 

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Giro d'Italia Outsiders 

Could there be an upset from an outsider?

hesjedal-giroI have covered the Favourites in this other preview already, now I'm going to take a look at the outsiders. Guys who could cause a shock and upset the big favourites.. Guys like Fabio Aru who finished 3rd last year or Ryder Hesjedal who won in 2012 at 50/1.

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Giro d'Italia Favourites

Main Contenders - Contador or Porte?

porte contador saxoThis year's Giro may not have attracted as good a field as last year for various reasons, but we should be in for a classic battle between the former team-mates Richie Porte and Alberto Contador over the 21 stages. Nairo Quintana isn't here to defend his title, preferring instead to prepare for the Tour de France - Vuelta double.   

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Giro d'Italia 2015 Preview

9th May to 31st May, 3486km

Giro-logo

The shadow boxing is over, this is the real deal now. We've had the Classics, Tirreno-Adriatico, Catalunya, Pais-Vasco, Trentino and Romandie and they've all served up clues and pointers for this first Grand Tour of the year. Some may not have been 100% tuned up yet, will some have peaked too soon?

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Giro D'Italia St 1

San Lorenzo Al Mare to San Remo

Saturday 9th May, 17.8kms

giro goThe first stage of the 2015 Giro D'Italia kicks the race off with a Team Time Trial, like it did in Belfast last year. This time though they are back on home soil with a 17.8km jaunt along the coast which takes in a section of the 'Cicliabile Riviera Dei Fiori', a tourist bike path that runs along the old coastal route of the Italian State Railways between San Lorenzo Al Mare and San Remo. 

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TDF 2015 Stage 1

Utrecht to Utrecht, 13.8km Time Trial

Saturday July 4th

utrecht logoHere we go then, the Grand Depart, Utrecht style. A 13.8km Time Trial around the city of Utrecht to kick things off, a return to an opening Time Trial after a two-year absence. Apparently, due to the length of the time trial, it is not a prologue, and instead it is given the title of Stage 1! Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin will lock horns in what should be a brilliant battle to start the race.

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Tour de Romandie 2015

April 28th - May 3rd 2015

Romandie-logoSo the Ardennes Classics have come and gone, and have been pretty boring and disappointing to say the least. That is to say, they were boring and disappointing from a fans point of view as they never really delivered what they promised, with Kwiatkowski winning a bunch sprint in AGR and Valverde just grinding all the others in to the ground in F-W and LBL. 

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Tour de Yorkshire

May 1st - May 3rd 2015

yorkshire logoAfter the magnificent spectacle that was the Tour de France in Yorkshire last July, cycling fans up north must be pinching themselves that a three-day event that draws some world class riders back to Yorkshire has appeared on the calendar this year. Backed by the ASO, it has been given a 2.1 status by the UCI and attracts international talent as well as a selection of local pro squads.

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Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2015

Liège to Ans

Sunday 27th April, 253kms

liege-logo-2015The 100th edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year is one that I'll not forget for a while after landing one of by biggest results of the year on Simon Gerrans. Some said he couldn't possibly win, too much climbing in it.. My information said otherwise and we landed a right touch at 25/1. Not only that, but I had Dan Martin at 50/1 each-way, so as he headed to the final bend in pursuit of Moreno, with Gerrans not far behind I was just a little excited you could say.

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La Flèche Wallone 2015

Waremme to Mur de Huy

Wed. 22nd April, 205.5kms

Fleche-wallone-logoAfter an exciting finish to Amstel Gold Race in Holland on Sunday, the focus now switches to the Belgian Ardennes with La Flèche Wallone on Wednesday, followed on Sunday by 'La Doyenne', Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The Mur is a fearsome finish to La Fleche Wallone and has an extra special significance this year, being the finish for a stage in this summer's Tour De France.

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Amstel Gold Preview

Maastricht to Valkenberg

Sunday 19th April, 258kms

amstel-gold-race-logoThe 50th running of the Amstel Gold Race starts in Maastricht in the Kimburg region of the Netherlands on Sunday morning. There's a fantastic line-up looking to kick-start their Ardennes campaign in style, with Philippe Gilbert looking for back-to-back victories and his fourth victory in total in the race. 

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De Brabantse Pijl 2015

Wednesday 15th April, 203kms

brabantse logoAfter a brilliantly exciting Paris-Roubaix last  Sunday (well a brilliant last 15kms or so!), the final race of the 'Flanders Classics' of the season takes place Wednesday with the De Brabantse Pijl or 'the Brabantse arrow'. This is generally one for the punchy riders who can sprint a bit, there's lot of little climbs, lots of cobbles, but more often than not ends in a reduced sprint finish of some sort. 

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Paris-Roubaix 2015 Preview

Sunday 12th April, 253.5kms

Paris-R-logoCan anyone stop King Kristoff? The Norwegian is in incredible form at the moment and continued his dominance of spring races with yet another win in the crash-marred Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. He has now tumbled yet again to as low as 7/2 to win L'Enfer du Nord, a ridiculous price given his record in the race! 

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Scheldeprijs 2015

Wednesday 8th April, 215.3kms

2015 scheldeprijs logoThe 2015 Scheldeprijs, like the Tour of Flanders just a few days before is missing two of it's biggest stars this year in Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish. Coincidentally, like Boonen and Cancellara who have both won Flanders three times, Kittel and Cavendish are also three times winners of the Scheldeprijs. Marcel Kittel has dominated this race for the past three years, but misses out this year as he is still recovering from the bug that has affected him this season.  

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Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 

Monday April 6th to Saturday April 11th

Pais-Vasco-logoThe Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, or the Tour of the Basque Country as it's known to us non-Basques, started Monday with a stage to and from Bilboa which had a Cat 2 climb near the finish but it wasn't enough to split things up significantly and quite a large group fought out the finish. In the end Michael Matthews won the stage from a bunch sprint after hanging in there over the final climb of the day.  

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Tour of Flanders 2015 Preview

Sunday 5th April, 264.9kms

2014 ronde podium

It's Ronde time! But it's a Ronde that sees two of it's greatest stars absent from the start list, two men that have won six out of the last ten runnings of the race. Tom Boonen has been making noises of a possible return for Paris-Roubaix, he is training hard apparently, but the three-time winner is missing this year, and how the rudderless Etixx-QuickStep could do with his head and experience at the moment.. 

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E3 Harelbeke Preview

Friday 27th March, 215.3kms

E3 Harelbeke logoE3 Harelbeke takes place on Friday and is the first taste of the cobbles proper in 2015 for most of the big favourites for the Monuments to come. As it contains a lot of the climbs and cobbles of the Tour of Flanders, all of the main contenders will be here to get in some serious practice with only nine days to go to the Ronde. Peter Sagan won it last year and managed to keep his hands to himself this time on the podium, much to the amusement of Niki Terpstra who finished 2nd.  

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Dwars door Vlaanderen 

Wednesday 25th March 2015, 200kms

Dwars logoNiki Terpstra returns to try to win the Dwars door Vlaanderen for the third time in four years after a superb solo victory last year and in 2012. Last year he won by 17" from a very annoyed Tyler Farrar, annoyed by the fact that he should have won had they not let Tersptra get away. In 2014 he won by an even bigger margin, 47" over Chavanel and de Kort. In between Oscar Gatto won the sprint from the break, but Tersptra led the second group home in 11th place.   

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Volta a Catalunya 2015

Monday March 23rd to Sunday March 29th

2015 catalunya logoAfter the eagerly awaited battle between Contador, Froome, Nibali and Quintana failed to materialise at the Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya takes on an added importance in shaping the seasons of some of the big GC riders. Froome didn't start because of a chest infection, Quintana put them all in their place with a superb attack on the Queen stage to Termanillo, Contador lacked the power to go with him and Nibali just wasn't fit enough to be a challenger. 

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Milan San Remo 2015 Preview

Sunday 22nd March, 293Km

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Milan San Remo kicks off the Classics and what a race we should have in store. The season has been bubbling along nicely, but this Sunday is what a lot of the season so far has been preparation for - 'La Classicisima di Primavera'. Alexander Kristoff comes here ready to defend his title with five victories already this season and is sure to go close again this year.  

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Tirreno-Adriatico 2015

Wednesday March 11th to Tuesday March 17th

Tirreno logoThe organisers of Tirreno-Adriatico must have been pinching themselves with the line-up of superstars that were taking part this year. Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali, Vuelta winner and last year's T-A winner Alberto Contador, Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana and recent Vuelta a Andalucia winner Chris Froome are all here for an early season battle.

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Paris Nice 2015

Sunday March 8th to Sunday March 15th

pn-logoThe Omloop and KBK may have signalled the start of the Classics season proper, but Paris-nice kicks off the serious racing for those with Grand Tour ambitions in 2015. Ok, the four best GT riders in the world are all going to Tirreno - Adriatico, but there is still a quality field taking to the start of the "Race to the sun". Last year's winner Carlos Betancur has gone to Tirreno, but 2nd and 3rd place Rui Costa and Arthur Vichot return. 

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Strade Bianche 

San Gimignano to Siena

Saturday 7th March 2015, 200kms

stradeThe Strade Bianche is an interesting race - in terms of the history of cycling, this race has none really to talk about, it has only been around since 2007. But what it lacks in history it makes up for in great racing. The 'Strade Bianche' is named after the chalk roads which make up some 70kms of the course, criss-crossing over the rolling hills of Tuscany. 

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Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne

Sunday 1st March 2015, 197kms

kuurne-logoThe second leg of the Belgian Cobbled weekend of cycling takes place on Sunday with Kuurne-Brussells-Kuurne. Whereas the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is one for the pure Classics specialists, KBK is one for the sprinters traditionally.

A sore throat takes André Greipel out of the race, but there are still a lot of quality sprinters present to do battle Sunday afternoon. 

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Gent to Gent

Saturday 28th February 2015, 200.2kms

omloop logoThe 70th running of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad signals the start of the season proper for many. The first taste of the mud and the cobbles of Belgium and for some the first races in the cold and wet following a month in the sun of the middle-east. The Omloop can be run in brutally harsh conditions compared to the 40° heat of Qatar or Oman, and the riders often face snow and icy conditions.

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Vuelta a Andalucia 2015

Wednesday February 18th to Sunday February 22nd

andalucia logo 2015The organisers of the Vuelta a Andalucia, or the Ruta del Sol as it's more commonly known, must have been pinching themselves when Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome announced they would be taking to the start line this year. Unfortunately a crash in the road nationals for Quintana means we are denied the chance of seeing the three tops guns battling it out for early season supremacy.  

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Tour of Oman 2015

Tuesday February 17th to Sunday February 22nd

oman-logoAfter a training spin around Dubai, Vincenzo Nibali heads to the Tour of Oman looking to lay down a marker for the start of the season. With two-time winner and defending champion, Chris Froome, heading to the Vuelta a Andalucia this year, it will be interesting to see who steps up to challenge Nibali, with the race likely to come down to the ascent of Green Mountain again on stage four. 

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Tour of Qatar 2015

Sunday February 8th to Friday February 13th

2015-qatar-logoThe Tour of Qatar has been a race for the sprinters in the past, with Tom Boonen winning it a record four times, and Mark Cavendish, Robbie Hunter and Mark Renshaw also on the honours list. Niki Terpstra won it in 2014 though on the back of a break on the very first stage, holding his lead all the way to the end from his team-mate Boonen and Jurgen Roelandts.  

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Dubai Tour 2015

Wednesday February 5th to Saturday February 8th

dubai logoThe Dubai Tour returns for its second edition, having been upgraded a level to a 2.HC UCI ranking. 2014 winner, Taylor Phinney, is of course still in rehabilitation following his horrific leg injury last year so won't be here to defend his title. Instead, there are a number of world class riders here to try to pick up the bling-a-licious trophy, designed by the famous Italian car designer Pininfarina. 

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Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise 

Allauch to Marseille

Sunday 1st February 2015, 139.7kms

Grand-Prix-Cycliste-la-MarseillaiseI wasn't going to do a preview for this race as I wasn't sure any bookie would price it up seeing as there have been no prices for the Majorca races. But Paddy Power have priced it up so I'm going to take a late and brief look to see if there is anyone appeals. 

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Tour de San Luis 2015

san-luis-2015-logoThe ninth running of the Tour de San Luis starts on Monday afternoon in Argentina. A race that was once dominated by the locals, the race has grown in importance and popularity in the last few years to now see the season launch for the likes of Giro Champion Nairo Quintana, World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Mark Cavendish. 

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Santos Tour Down Under 2015  

TDU15 logoAnd so it begins! After months of waiting, off-season scandals, team changes and kit presentations the pro peloton are ready to roll once again with the season opener in Adelaide.

The big news from the race's point of view for the locals is the fact that three-time winner and reigning champ Simon Gerrans will not be taking part having broken his collar-bone in a mountain bike accident over Christmas. 

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Australian National Road Championships

aussie-nationals-logoThe Australian national championships take place from Wednesday the 7th to Sunday the 11th January in Balarat, Victoria,west of Melbourne. Although the championships consist of a diverse range of events, I'm going to take a look at the Elite mens TT and the Elite mens Road Race as they are the only races with betting odds available. 

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Il Lombardio

Sunday October 1st, 254kms

lombardia logoThe race of the Falling Leaves gets a makeover this year with a new route that finishes in Bergamo. The previous route was predominantly an east to west route that finished in Lecco, this year's route goes almost the complete opposite direction across Lombardy, starting in Como on the west and finishing in Bergamo after a loop in to the mountains north of the city.

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Milano-Torino

Wednesday October 1st, 195.5kms

milano torino logoMilano-Torino takes place this Wednesday and it kicks off the post-World's set of season-closing races. This is a race for climbers and strong punchers with two ascents up the Colle Di Superga inside the last 25kms. 

Milano-Torino is a semi-classic that has been run since 1876, making it Italy's oldest bike race and one of the the oldest races in the world.

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An Interview with David McCarthy

davidmac nprtWhat a year it has been for David McCarthy. When he sat down at the start of the season he could not in his wildest dreams have foreseen what lay ahead of him this year. From achieving world-wide noteriety for his selfie with Marcel Kittel, to finishing the season racing against the likes of Arnaud Démare and André Greipel, it has been an incredible year in every sense. 

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Grand Prix de Wallonie 2014

Wallonie, Belgium
Wednesday September 17th, 198.2kms 

bakelants kissA short preview for the Tour de Wallonie as I am half taking a week off after a hectic week last week with the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain going on! It was a nice way to end the week though with a 14.7pt profit on Sunday to make up for a poor Saturday with the break in the TOB and Froome losing to Contador on the Ancares.. 

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Tour of Britain 2014

11th to 17th August, 1067.4kms

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The Tour of Britain is back and this year the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirmed that the Tour of Britain would be awarded Hors Categorie status, elevating it into the same league as the likes of Criterium International and the Tour of California. Brad Wiggins is back to defend his title but faces some quality opponents. 

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Eneco Tour

11th to 17th August, 1067.4kms

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The Eneco Tour kicks off in Terneuzen in the Netherlands on Monday and it will be an exciting week of racing across Holland and Belgium with some fantastic classic-like stages and a TT thrown in early enough in the race to ensure the last few days are super-competitive. 

There's a quality line-up this year, with defending champion Stybar back to try to fend off the likes of Dumoulin, Cancellara, Boom, Gilbert, Van Avermaet and Thomas. 

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Tour of Poland

3rd to the 9th August

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Hot on the heels of an excellent Tour de France we have the Tour de Pologne, a handy filler for riders preparing for the Vuelta or looking for somewhere to carry good form from the Tour. A mixed course makes it a very open race with local hero Rafal Majka hoping to continue his run of form following his memorable TDF where he took two stages and the KOM jersey.  

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Clasica San Sebastian

San Sebastian, Spain
Saturday 2nd August, 219.2kms

gallopin-san-sebastianThe Clasica, or to give it its local name the Donostia-Donostia Klasikoa takes place tomorrow for the 34th time. As classics go it's a pretty new one but has built a reputation as a tough race, favoured by climbers and puncheurs. It contains a mix of riders who are tired after a hard TDF, riders in form from the TDF and fresh riders who didn't do the TDF!

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Giro d'Italia St.15

Marostica to Madonna Di Campiglio
Sunday 24th May, 165kms 

madonna di campiglioNo rest for the wicked. Well not today anyway, the rest day is Monday. Some may well have had a rest day though yesterday judging by the times of some who rolled around through the vineyards yesterday. For some it was under strict team instructions to save themselves for what's to come, for others it was fatigue starting to catch up after a breathless opening two weeks of this race.

 

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Giro d'Italia St 13

Montecchio Maggiore to Jesolo 
Friday 22nd May, 147kms 

Greipel Giro 15A short, flat day for the sprinters, the last chance for them until the final stage in Milan. After the sprinters teams screwed up on stage 10, they will be desperate to make amends and set up their fast men for a charge to the finish line in Jesolo. It's the first time that the Giro has visited Montecchio Maggiore, but the 5th time Jesolo hosts a stage finish.

 

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Giro Del Trentino 2015

April 21st to 24th, 2015

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While some riders are sprinting up the Mur de Huy or preparing for Liege-Bastogne-Liege this week, others head for some mountain fun in Trentino. The four stages from the Tuesday to the Friday of this week offer a Team Time Trial and three tough stages with two summit finishes.

Can Richie Porte take another stage race win to add to Catalunya and Paris-Nice?    

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Gent Wevelgem Preview

Sunday 29th March, 240kms

gent-wevelgem-logoThe racing is coming thick and fast now, DVV was won in spectacular fashion on Wednesday by the Topsport boys, followed by a dramatic E3 Harelbeke on Friday, won in brilliant style by Geraint Thomas. The Flanders festival of cycling moves on to Gent on Sunday for a Classic for the sprinters, in Gent Wevelgem.

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