Anyone who has watched cycling during an Olympic Games will be aware just how many different types of event this sport encompasses. And this means there are many different ways to bet on cycling. Most punters are familiar with major events such as the Tour de France and competitive track cycling at Olympic level, but dig a little and you’ll find a host of exciting (and often rather weird) events.
Take the keirin, surely one of sport’s strangest events but an excellent bet cycling opportunity. It started out in Japan as an event devised specifically for gambling but gained status to finally become a track event in the Sydney Olympics of 2000.
This 2km track event starts out with sprint riders being paced by a motorised vehicle very like a motor bike. The motorbike rider gradually increases their speed, finally leaving the track just before the end when a speed of around 70km an hour is achieved by all riders. The bike serves to reduce wind resistance for the riders to some extent, but there’s a slipstream directly behind the motorbike. This means there’s a real disadvantage being at the front of the pack behind the bike, where the riding is hard-going. Riders try to avoid taking this position and emerge from the back of the pack for a final race to the end, at which point the race is highly aggressive and tactical as they race to overtake other competitors. Speed gradually increases as the riders follow the bike but the final race to the finish line once the motorbike leaves the track is highly exhilarating. It’s a great event for betting and a thrilling event to watch live. It’s also one of the few cycling events at Olympic level where cyclists compete against one another, rather than against the clock.
The keirin was originally conceived entirely for betting purposes and it’s still highly popular in Japan partly for that reason. There are numerous ways to bet in the keirin race. In most keirin events, the bets include: the ‘exacta’ bet, where the gambler wagers on the first two finishers in the order they are expected to win, and the ‘quinella’, where the gambler wagers on the first two finishers in any order. If a major keirin event is going on with multiple races, there are often jackpots on offer for wagers covering multiple races so your bet on cycling can accumulate over multiple events, with big potential payouts.
But there are many other types of cycling events offering opportunities to make various kinds of cycling bets. Broadly speaking, cycling breaks down into road, off road and track events. There are also some athletes who focus on trick or stunt biking, but these don’t always attract betters in such large volumes as other cycling events.
Track cycling: a host of different events
There are many opportunities to watch and wager on track cycling around the sporting calendar. Worldwide there are many track competitions, the main ones being the UCI World Track Cup, the World Championships and the Olympic Games. In fact, British Cycling counts over 280 track events worldwide.
The cycling track is known as a velodrome. It offers a rather beautiful steeply banked arena which is sloped an alarming 42 degrees. This makes any velodrome a dramatic place, as spectators can get close to the action and athletes reach very high speeds. Things can get very intense at track cycling events, particularly in the sprint to the end of any contest. The racing takes place over a single one-lap track of 250m made of wooden strips.
Like road cycling, track events are split into sprint and endurance events. One of the most famous track events is the individual sprint. Although this event requires intense speed and co-ordination on the bike, it’s also about using tactical skill to beat your opponents. Confusingly, the race starts out at very slow pace. At the start, competitors draw lots and one rider will then find they need to lead for the first slow lap. But riders don’t want to take the lead for the full race, because they get more wind resistance in this position. They also don’t want their opponents to attack them from behind. The race inevitably ends in a frantic sprint in the last lap as riders try to overtake each other to the finish line.
One of track cycling’s biggest endurance races is the madison. The riders compete in pairs over 200 laps of the track (a total of 50km). All riders are on the track to start, but thereafter only one rider from the pair can be in the race at once. Riders alternate with their partner to do one or more laps at a time. When a rider wishes to bring his or her partner back into the race, they grab their hand and pull them along to get them up to speed. These changeovers are a tricky and hazardous part of the race which riders need to get right.
Every 20 laps there is a sprint, which can win an athlete points. But cyclists also compete to get ahead of other athletes in physical distance. Getting ahead of other athletes by a lap puts you in the lead, and is more important than having sprinting points. But if none of the pairs gain a lap on the other competitors, the race win is determined by who has the most sprinting points.
Cycling betting sites will offer you a number of endurance race events that you can lay bets on. Endurance events include the individual pursuit, team pursuit, scratch race, points race, madison and omnium. The latter is a fun race to bet on: it’s the cycling world’s equivalent of a decathlon, as it encompasses many different cycling events within one multiple race event. The events within the omnium include a time trial and a scratch race, where the objective is just to beat the other cyclists to the finish line. Few punters understand the omnium very well. The easiest bet to make is who will win the event overall. You can also bet on each of the individual six events.
Grand tours: cycling’s endurance feats
Cycling’s best known event is the annual Tour de France, often considered the most demanding endurance event in the sport’s calendar. In fact there are several annual endurance cycling events, many of them held in Europe, known as the ‘grand tours’. These include the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. These races tend to have a long history and a number of traditions, such as the wearing of different coloured jerseys. Although there are many world cycling events across track, road and off road, the grand tours tend to be the most prestigious and the ones the public are most familiar with. And no wonder – the many events in the road racing calendar have been running for more than one hundred years. The Tour de France began in 1903 and the Giro d’Italia in 1909. The Vuelta has been held annually since 1935.
Even within the grand tours, there are many different ways to compete. Within the Tour de France there are separate competitions for different titles. There are several sprint stages across the Tour that reward talent within this specific discipline. Points are given to the first riders to reach the top of mountain climbs, with the winner of the most points being awarded the title ‘king of the mountains’. Some participants in the Tour will compete in the race specifically in order to win this title. There are also dedicated awards for young riders.
If you’re thinking of betting on a grand tour, there are many different daily stages to bet on, as well as the event overall. You can place bets on a daily stage winner, or the king of the mountains or sprint star. Some bookies offer odds on how many riders will wear the yellow jersey over the course of the entire race, or who will win the green jersey. You can bet how many of the competitors will finish the race without having to retire due to injury or some other calamity. There are sometimes long standing ‘rider specials’, such as the bet that a particular athlete will win the Tour at some point in his career. This wager will stretch across many years until the athlete’s retirement from the sport. Of course, you can also bet on who will be the final winner after the three weeks of the Tour. In short, the Tour offers many different opportunities to wager across the course of the three week event.
Off road cycling events
Cycling betting also covers off road events, including mountain biking. There are many events offered within this discipline. The downhill sees individual athletes hurtling one at a time down an off-road course which features challenges including jumps. The race is won by whoever gets across the course in the fastest time.
Other mountain bike events like the cross-country have multiple athletes competing against one another at the same time. This will include many technical challenges including track running over grass, up steep climbs and sharp descents. Again, the winner is the one who finishes in the fastest time.
The 4X event sees four cross riders competing at the same time across a short downhill course. Obstacles typically include many bumps to fly over and gaps to jump across. It’s a fun race to watch although the crashes can look alarming and few races are completed without at least one athlete taking a fall. There are also multiple events run on BMX bikes, including sprint races on off road courses that often include jumps. Other off road events require athletes to dismount and carry their bike across obstacles. These tend to be endurance events lasting up to one hour.
Team cycling events: more ways to bet
Cycling betting offers opportunities to wager on individual or group events. In team events, several cyclists share the burden of the contest, making for some interesting group dynamics. Group events include the team sprint, where groups of three athletes compete in a time trial across three laps of the velodrome. You can usually bet on the lap times of each individual in the team sprint group, and on the total time for the team.
Although the Tour de France is generally seen as an individual sport, there’s a strong and important group element to it. Teams of cyclists collaborate to reduce the wind resistance and slipstreaming their star athlete experiences, working together to get them across the finish line ahead of everyone else. They also sacrifice their own achievements in the race in order to deliver the refreshments the star player needs to stay in top form during the event.
Where to place a cycling bet
We’re committed to finding the best place for you to place cycle bets, whatever type of event you want to wager on. We’ll recommend the best venues for placing cycle sports bets across the sporting year.
When bookies want to attract new customers in, for example at the start of an Olympic Games year, they’ll often offer free betting to try to tempt you in. We summarise the best betting cycling event sites that offer these kinds of great deals, so you always get a fantastic deal and manage to get more for your money. We’ll list where the free bets can be placed for cycle events of all kinds, including the more obscure ones, so you always know the best sports gaming site to visit. We’ll update these recommendations all the time, so make sure you keep checking back.
Betting on cycling events offers a range of possibilities and can introduce you to some really kooky events within the cycling year. It’s a great spectator sport either on road or track, and having a bit of money riding on a race can enhance your enjoyment of watching it. Check our site in the confidence that we’ll suggest the best venues to lay cycling bets.