Lions well fancied to finish the job

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The opening Test match between the Lions and Australia in Brisbane couldn’t have been more dramatic as Wallabies full-back Kurtley Beale sensationally slipped when taking a relatively straightforward penalty that would’ve won his side the match, thus letting the tourists off the hook and handing them a narrow 23-21 victory..

Warren Gatland’s men are now in the driving seat where the series is concerned, Stan James rating them at 1/5 to convert their 1-0 lead into an overall triumph over the three games and Skybet quoting 6/4 for the Lions to record a whitewash.

The all-important second Test is this weekend in Melbourne and the Lions are odds-on at a best price of 8/13 with Paddy Power to clinch the series with a win at the Etihad Stadium while BetVictor post 13/8 against the Aussies bouncing back from their Queensland nightmare to level matters.

In the handicaps, the closeness of the opening encounter means that the tourists are only penalised by three points at odds of 10/11 (Stan James) and for punters sensing a Wallabies fightback, the home side are given a four-point cushion by bet365 at even money.

Elsewhere, bet365 chalk the Lions up at 4/5 to put the first points on the board and it’s 6/4 courtesy of Ladbrokes for the contest’s opening score to be a penalty for Gatland’s troops, who are also 3/4 (William Hill) to cross the whitewash for the first try.

Until this year, Corsica remained the only region of France not to have hosted a Tour de France stage.

But, in Porto-Vecchio on Saturday, the Grand Depart will signal the start of the race’s 100th edition, a 212 kilometre opener hugging the island’s east coast.

This is followed by two further Corsican-based legs, which means that by the time the teams return to the mainland, the riders will have completed 15% of this year’s 3,360 km contest.

In Sir Bradley Wiggins’ absence, the South African-born Chris Froome leads the race betting, priced as Stan James’s 8/11 favourite.

His nearest rival is Spaniard Alberto Contador, offered at 11/4 by Paddy Power. The pair are likely to remain within spitting distance of each other, at least until they reach the mountain stages where Froome probably holds a slight advantage. Manxman Mark Cavendish is 4/5 (bet365) to win the opening stage, though he’s only second in the betting to Peter Sagan (evens, Ladbrokes) to claim the points classification jersey, a market in which Andre Greipel is a surprisingly long 16/1 at William Hill.

Elsewhere, Skybet report ‘plenty of support’ for their 8/1 odds posted about a dual forecast Chris Froome/Richie Porte finish and in a race where the mountain stages appear considerably tougher than in recent years, BetVictor’s 3/1 for 150 or fewer riders to finish certainly catches the eye.

Mark Webber emerged triumphant in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last year, adding to his 2010 success.

But with just two podium finishes to his name all year, the Australian isn’t expected to repeat the feat this time around – Stan James pricing the Red Bull man at 9/1 to prevail.

Team-mate Sebastian Vettel, currently a full 63 points ahead of his colleague in the standings is BetVictor’s 7/4 favourite for the race ahead of Fernando Alonso (11/4, bet365) and it’s those two that bookmakers expect to duke it out for maximum points, given that Ladbrokes places Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen next in the betting at 8/1 apiece.

As Vettel and Alonso have won five of 2013’s seven races between them, they’re hard to overlook here and indeed at 11/4 (William Hill) they’re solid value in a dual forecast to be the top two.

However, Webber loves this event, considering it his second ‘home’ Grand Prix as he resides in the United Kingdom and with a good record at Silverstone, he’s decent value at 6/4 via Stan James to clinch a place on the podium.

In qualifying, meanwhile, the Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, at 5/2 (Skybet) and 4/1 (BetVictor) respectively, have far more chance of securing pole position than they do of coming out on top in the race itself.

Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin makes his third bid for a world title on Saturday night as he heads to Connecticut to take on Kazakh banger Gennady Golovkin for the WBA middleweight strap.

Macklin is a 6/1 outsider at Paddy Power and as Golovkin is unbeaten in 26 with 23 wins inside the distance, it’s easy to see why. The champion is just 1/7 (BetVictor) to retain his belt but the challenger has stacks of heart and could be one of the rare opponents to take the Kazakh to the judge’s scorecards, where Macklin is 5/1 with bet365 to come up short.

Bet of the week: British GP dual forecast – Vettel/Alonso – 11/4 (William Hill).

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