LAST year’s winner Chris Froome has shortened again in the 2016 Tour de France betting after two strong stages, coming into $1.60 at WilliamHill.com.au.
The Englishman took the yellow jersey after a bold ride in stage eight which saw him record his first win of the Tour.
The Team Sky man braved the elements and torrid conditions on the road to Andorre Arcalis on Sunday to maintain his lead at the top of the leader board.
Froome is no stranger to being at the head of affairs at the first rest stage for the riders.
The 31-year-old went on to win the overall title after leading at the same point back in 2013 and 2015, but this time he has a lot of company at the top.
Froome holds leads of just 16 seconds over second-placed Adam Yates and 19 seconds over third-placed Dan Martin with nine stages completed.
Fourth-placed Nairo Quintana is only 23 seconds back of the leader and fifth-placed Joaquim Rodriguez just 37 seconds down.
The top 10 riders in the Tour this year are separated by only 61 seconds – a fact that was not lost on Froome.
“I’ve said it a few times: I feel this is going to be the biggest battle of my career,” he said at the end of stage nine.
“That’s what it’s turning out to be. By no means did I expect it to be easy and I was just going to ride away from everyone. The level is higher and I have to fight for every second I can.”
This time last year Froome had a lead of just under two minutes.
The incumbent yellow jersey wearer believes this year’s Tour will go right down to the wire.
“Looking to those last stages, 17, 18, 19 and 20, that is where the race will be won and lost,” Froome said.
“I made it my personal mission to come into this race a little bit fresher with the hope that I will have more in the third week than I had in the past. Let’s see. It’s a week away and we have still got two more weeks of racing now.
“Let’s see what happens.”
As it stands now there is only one other man in single figures in the Tour 2016 betting – Quintana ($2.50).
The 26-year-old Colombian currently sits 23 seconds behind the leader in the overall standings, but the margin in the minds of many experts should be closer after he failed to attack on stage nine.
Froome said he was surprised the South American never tried to gain the ascendancy on Sunday.
“In the back of my mind I was waiting for his attack,” the Brit said of Quintana.
“All the way up to the last kilometre and into the last kilometre, I thought, ‘He hasn’t attacked yet, maybe he’s saving it for one big move’ but that never came.
“I’d like to think he was on his limit but he just stuck to my wheel like glue.”
The Tour resumes on Tuesday as the riders tackle the road from Escaldes-Engordany to Revel, where Slovakian rider Peter Sagan is the $5 favourite to take out the stage.
2016 Tour de France overall winner odds
Market provided by WilliamHill.com.au
Chris Froome $1.60
Nairo Quintana $2.50
Richie Porte $23
Fabio Aru $34
Daniel Martin $34
Romain Bardet $41
Tejay van Garderen $45
Joaquim Rodriguez $51
Alejandro Valverde $81
Bauke Mollema $101
Roman Kreuziger $101
Geraint Thomas $201
Pierre Rolland $251