The Spring Classics in cycling are made up of seven races designed to test the ability of a cyclist to the limit. The classics are split into two groups – the Cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics. In this article, we’ll look more closely at the four Cobbled Classics, and how to spot the value for a shrewd punter in their in-play cycling betting.
The four major cobbled races are the E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix and, for those interested in cycling betting, they provide an excellent chance to find some good value bets.
The first thing to note is that cycling on the cobbles requires great skill and experience. They are not the clean, ordered and tidy cobblestones that people may have seen in historic city centres. Instead, they are irregular and angular, causing incessant vibrations to the bikes, and once a rider loses momentum, it is almost impossible to regain. The sight of world-class cyclists walking their bikes up some of the cobbled climbs gives you an idea of the challenge that they present.
Thus, experience of riding in these conditions is crucial. Many of the cobbled routes are found in Belgium, and it is no surprise to see Belgians dominating these races. In the 107 editions of the Paris-Roubaix, Belgians have won 55 of them, while their domination of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is even more impressive, with 68 titles from the 96 years of the race. So, while it would be extreme to rule out all non-Belgians, Belgians will undoubtedly find themselves toward the top of our lists.
It is important as well to look at a rider’s form coming into these events. There are smaller cobbled races that can give you an idea, but the E3 Harelbeke is an excellent guide to form. Last year’s winner, Tom Boonen, used the race to prove his form, before sweeping the entire series of cobbled classics: he is the first man ever to achieve that feat in a single year.
Gent-Wevelgem is a slightly different type of race, which can potentially end in a sprint finish. However, to merely back big-name sprinters would be foolish, as the cobbles and climbs, particularly on the Kemmelberg, mean that it is the more powerful sprinters that could have a chance. The likes of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Oscar Freire and Thor Hushovd have all won this race in the last decade, and often at larger prices. Spotting those that can deal with the climbs and cobbles, but who would then be able to out-sprint their rivals, is critical in finding the right cyclist to back for your cobbled cycling betting.
In-play cycling betting on these races can also be profitable. In the Paris-Roubaix, the Trouée d’Arenberg is a critical phase, and any rider that is not with the leading group through here will not win the race. Keeping an eye on the riders at the front will whittle down your potential selections. By the time the riders reach the Carrefour de l’Arbre, the smart punter on in-play cycling betting should have an excellent idea of who will win the race.