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Climbing to the top

Special training regime helping Wiggins hit new heights

Ed Chamberlin - Ed Chamberlin Posted 7th June 2012 view comments

For the last couple of years in this column I've been saying that Bradley Wiggins had no chance of winning the Tour de France. I'm starting to change my mind.

A combination of Wiggins' sensational form and this year's Tour's route gives the Brit an outstanding chance in the race that starts at the end of this month.

Sky Bet have him and last year's winner Cadel Evans as their 2/1 joint favourites with Andy Schleck next in at 6/1.

Team Sky's Wiggins and Michael Rogers on the road in Stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine

Team Sky's Wiggins and Michael Rogers on the road in Stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine

I was firmly behind Schleck last year but he's looked in no sort of form at the Dauphine this week and all is clearly not well in his team, with friction between Johan Bruyneel and the Schleck brothers. The Tour's route also favours the time-triallers rather than the out-and-out climbers, which is going to make life really hard for Andy Schleck.

Sky Bet have chalked up a 35/1 win double on Bradley Wiggins to win the Tour de France and England to win Euro 2012. The latter is a very big ask.

Ed Chamberlin
Quotes of the week

Gone are the days when riders, fuelled by steroids and EPO, used to rocket up climbs and blow the race apart in the mountains. These days 'grinders' can hang in there on the steep ascents and pick off their rivals on the flat and in the time-trials. We saw that with Cadel Evans' win in France last year and the Giro d'Italia showed how climbing these days is now a war of attrition rather than the explosions we used to see during cycling's 'dark days'.

Bradley Wiggins has also massively improved as a climber as I'm sure we will see in the Dauphine's climbs this weekend, for which he has been trading as Sky Bet's odds on favourite to successfully defend his title.

He has a special training regime in Tenerife to improve his climbing and, although Wiggins won't make breaks in the Tour de France mountain stages, he will be very hard to drop.

Wiggins and Evans both fit the bill of a modern day Tour de France winner and it will be fascinating to watch them battle it out over the next few days in the dress rehearsal that is the Criterium du Dauphine.

Euro 2012

Sky Bet have chalked up a 35/1 win double on Bradley Wiggins to win the Tour de France and England to win Euro 2012. The latter is a very big ask and starts with a very tough task against France on Monday.

Sky Bet go 6/4 France, 11/5 Draw and 15/8 England. The French are on a real roll, unbeaten in 21 games and while England have been having an injury nightmare, they have been boosted by the quick return to fitness of key midfielder and Arsenal target Yann M'Vila.

I fear France are on a different level to us and think Sky Bet's 13/8 on them to top Group D is one of the bets of the tournament (England are 7/4). France remain the value bet for the tournament and I'm pleased to see they've been backed in this week from 12/1 to 10/1.

I sincerely hope England will qualify with them from Group D and they are 8/15 with Sky Bet to do so.

In my tournament preview last week I also tipped up Mario Mandzukic each-way to be the tournament's top goal-scorer at 100/1. I was relieved to see him start for Slaven Bilic's side at the weekend and he should give us a run for our money. The tournament's top goal-scorer may be a bit ambitious but 7/1 about him being Croatia's top goal-scorer looks a massive price.

The team did not impress in their final warm-up match but I still think they have the ability to do well in Group C and I'm keen to oppose the Italians. Spain should win the group but 6/4 on Croatia to qualify for the quarter-finals looks a decent bet.

I love Sky Bet's market on who will be the 'Player of the Tournament'. They go 12/1 the field with Mesut Ozil and Andres Iniesta at the head of the betting. When you look down the list at all the stars that will be on show in Poland and Ukraine, you realise what a mouth-watering few weeks of football we have ahead of us.

My Euro 2012 bets:

France to top Group D @ 13/8

Croatia to qualify from Group C @ 6/4

Mario Mandzukic to be Croatia's top scorer @ 7/1

Already advised

France (each-way) @ 12/1

Mario Mandzukic (each-way) @ 100/1

Test cricket

Half-term in Cornwall has been a cold, wet and windy affair and the forecast for the Test match at Edgbaston looks worryingly similar.

Sky Bet have England at 2/1, the draw at 4/9 and the West Indies are a 14/1 chance. Draws are so rare in Test cricket but it's hard to see any other result this week if the weather forecasters are correct.

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