The jewel in the crown of cycling betting is the annual Tour de France, the multiple-stage, three-week-long contest which finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris each July. Other highly-celebrated races in the calendar include the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, based primarily in Italy and Spain respectively. There are also a number of One-Day Classics throughout the year as well as smaller stage races like the Tour of California.
Away from road racing, markets are sometimes offered for BMX, cyclocross, mountain biking and track cycling, the last of which holds a special place in the hearts of the British public thanks to the Olympic heroics of riders such as Laura Trott and Sir Chris Hoy.
With an event like the Tour de France, you can obviously bet on the eventual winner, but there are also markets for the winners of every stage of the race. In addition, you can wager on the top sprinter and King of the Mountains (the best climber), as well as on winning margins and the number of finishers. You will also find match bets, where the bookmaker pulls out two racers of a similar standard and you can back the one you think will finish ahead of the other. The nationality or team of the eventual general classification winner can also be bet on if you think that a rider from a certain country or UCI WorldTour team will make the grade.
Away from the big races, it can be difficult to find many cycling markets with sportsbooks, although Paddy Power took bets on the National Hill-Climb in 2015 as well as the Hour Record attempt made by Sir Bradley Wiggins in the same year, and William Hill accepts Speed Arena wagers. Some bookmakers will also offer specials on various big-name cyclists like Chris Froome and Katy Marchant winning medals at the Olympic Games. If you enjoy betting on the Classics, such as E3-Harelbeke or Milan - San Remo, make sure that you start checking bookmakers’ sites closer to the day of the event, as most will have outright markets available as the big day draws near.
Whether you’re betting on one of the multi-stage tour events or a Classic, it pays to know a cyclist’s strengths and weaknesses as it is very unlikely even the eventual winner will excel on every day (or every part) of the race. There is no point lumping on a sprinter to win that day’s stage when it predominantly consists of nosebleed-inducing climbs.
Similarly, there is plenty of information available online for you to fully research the stage. A pancake-flat course might look like an easy time for the sprinters, but it won’t suit them at all if there are large cobbled sections where everyone in the peloton is hanging on for dear life instead of attacking. Taking the time to read up on the course will help you plan your bets and, hopefully, put yourself in the best possible position to see a return.
The weather will affect cyclists too and this is also something that is simple enough to research. If the fancied riders are setting off in a time trial late on in the day, any rain that sets in around lunchtime can mean that it is difficult to beat the times recorded in the morning, even for superior racers. This happened in 2012, when Swedish racer Gustav Larsson won a Paris-Nice time trial at 150/1, because the conditions turned and made it difficult for favourites Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin, who set off after the rain came down.
Wind also has a major effect on a cyclist’s performance, with gusts and headwinds working against a rider and dropping their speed, even if they’re sporting the latest aerodynamic kit. Bookmakers’ favourite Nairo Quintana lost critical minutes to Chris Froome on the second stage of the 2015 Tour de France for precisely this reason. Had he not been caught in some brutal crosswinds, Quintana would have been able to eat into Froome’s time and nab the yellow jersey by the time the peloton reached the Alpe d’Huez on the penultimate stage of the Tour. Always check the forecast!
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