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Cycling is in the middle of its biggest ever boom in Britain, thanks to numerous medal wins at the 2012 Olympics and Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming Britain’s first ever Tour de France winner the same year. While the sport has long been popular on the continent, Britain is just waking up to the ins and outs of what can be a complex and confusing sport, so here is gambling.com's guide to help you bet on cycling events.
Olympic cycling events are split into four main categories. These are track cycling, road cycling, mountain biking and BMX, with bookmakers offering a variety of markets for each. Most markets are spread across track and road cycling, which are split into sprint and endurance races. Sprint races are all about speed and athleticism, with riders competing over a short number of laps, whereas endurance events require riders to maintain stamina and concentration over a longer distance. The objective is the same in both; to cover the distance in the shortest possible time.
Team cycling differs slightly in that it involves multiple cyclists sharing the burden, and so is an interesting event to look at in terms of cycling betting. For example, the team sprint is a 3-man time trial held over 3 laps in a velodrome. At the end of each lap, the leading cyclist pulls up the banking to leave the second rider to lead the second lap. The second rider does the same, allowing the third rider to complete the last lap on his own. Many bookmakers offer markets on the individual lap times of the three riders, as well as the overall time.
The other main event in the cycling calendar is the Tour de France which, along with the Giro D’Italia and the Vuelta De Espana, makes up the three Grand Tours of European road cycling. The Tour remains the most prestigious, however, and winning the coveted Yellow Jersey is the pinnacle of any cyclist’s career.
Tours are broken down into days, known as stages, which come in different guises: mountain stages, flat stages and time trials, which all suit different types of rider. Riders compete over these stages for the right to wear certain jerseys. The main jerseys on offer are usually for the overall leader (rider with the lowest overall time) and the points leader (points are awarded for high finishes in each stage, or for crossing a certain point in the stage first). The coveted Yellow Jersey is the Tour de France's award for the overall leader.
When betting on cycling it is paramount that you do your research. For example, in these tours riders are members of teams, who work towards helping their lead rider by countering other teams’ attacks and by launching attacks themselves. They also protect their main rider from getting bunched in, and let him slipstream his teammates in order to expend less energy.
So, when betting on an outright tour winner, be sure to choose a team’s lead rider, otherwise you’ll be relying on the leader to crash out in order for your guy to potentially take over. It’s also rare for riders to tackle all three Grand Tours in the same year, so check out exactly who is riding a tour and the team that will be accompanying them.
Because of all these variables, cycling betting can be a bit of a lottery. However, this can work in your favour, as the sport is relatively new to bookmakers, meaning that you might be able to spot good value riders that they've overlooked.
As a result, cycling betting markets like 'Stage Winner' can throw up some generous odds. Winning stages is largely a competition between the peloton's sprinters, with teams trying to get their sprinter into a position to win as they get nearer the finish line. It’s not easy to call, but look towards the high-class sprinters and note their history on that particular stage, or stages of that variety, and you won’t go far wrong.
Perhaps the most predicable element of road cycling is the time trial stages, as these are just the rider against the clock. You won’t get as long odds as in normal stage winner markets, but there are specialists in this area who can be worth backing heavily.
For cycling betting markets on all the Grand Tours and other races, check out William Hill Sports close to their start date.
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