Cycling is a hugely popular sport across the world, with millions of fans watching the biggest tours in France, Spain and Italy.
From the peloton to breakaways, Yellow Jerseys to mountain masters, there is a world of mystique and romance around the sport of cycling.
Professional cyclists will train almost their entire lives just to earn a place in one of the teams competing in the major Tours, while some are lucky enough to also compete at the Olympics.
And with so much action taking place over the year, newcomers to cycling betting may not know where to start! In this guide we will take you through how to bet on cycling and which markets are perfect for those starting out. You will also learn about the three big Tours in cycling and what the best bets are here.
You can also bet on cycling at the Olympics and this guide will talk you through the various markets available in the numerous events that take place every four years.
Once you’re read this guide you should have a greater understanding of how cycling betting works, so you can head to the Unibet sportsbook with confidence.
How to bet on cycling
Cycling is a very simple sport but the arrangement of its competitions can be tricky to follow. In effect it is a race just like any running, swimming or motorsport race. But in cycling, competitors race on two-wheeled bicycles over varying distances and speeds.
Now, staying on the bike is the easy part. The difficulty is trying to beat your opponents in an endurance or sprint race, where even the smallest margins can decide who wins or loses. Cyclings will wear aerodynamic clothing and very little else apart from a safety helmet.
There are two main forms of cycling: Tour racing and Track cycling. In Tour racing, cycling teams will come together and race for upwards of a month across a country to determine who is the winner.
In Track cycling, teams and countries will compete in an oval-shaped velodrome and race against each ofter and the clock. This is the sprint side of cycling often found at the Olympics and the Track Cycling World Championships, which we shall explore later in this guide.
Regardless of which form of cycling you are following, the betting is usually the same. Punters will place a bet on who they think will win the race. This can either be the individual cyclist, the team or the country they represent. In the Tour de France you can bet on Stage wins, with different classifications available. We shall go into more detail on this now…
Tour cycling betting: Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana
There are three ionic Tour races in cycling that run each year. The Giro d’Italia is a four-week long tour of Italy that takes in some of the most gruelling Alpine slopes the sport has to offer. A few weeks later the Tour de France — widely considered the pinnacle of cycling — rides across France for most of July. And in lat August the Vuelta a Espana sets off, with riders cycling under the intense Spanish sun.
Betting on the Tour de France and other big cycling events can be tricky. You can bet on the overall race winner and overall team winner. The race winner will earn the Yellow Jersey and is the cyclist who overall clocks the shortest amount of time across the entire Tour. After each stage, whoever is in the lead will wear the Yellow Jersey. But you can also bet on individual stage winners, which makes Tour de France betting very exciting when we reach the mountain stages.
Here, you can bet on who will be the King of the Mountains, as some cyclists specialise in racing in these mountainous conditions. Equally, during flatter stages you can bet on the Sprint Winner — those racers who will sprint to the finish line and try and claim as many stage wins as possible.
Betting on cycling chances every day during a big Tour — and there is always the possibility of a crash occurring that can ruin someone’s month. Indeed, this is one of the beauties of betting on a sport that lasts for so long. There are numerous changes to the cycling betting odds during the Giro, Tour de France or Vuelta. In Italy in particular, riders can find themselves out of the race through nasty injuries sustained on the road.
Track cycling betting
This is the opposite end of the cycling spectrum, where endurance is sacrificed for raw speed. Track cycling in velodromes have become a massive source of entertainment, especially during the Olympics and World Championships.
There are varying lengths and styles in Track cycling, which can make the sport very confusing. Here are just some to look out for…
Two riders start at opposite sides of the track and effectively race each other without coming into contact. The winner is the first to complete the required number of laps before the other. Whoever wins advances to the next round. In a team pursuit, two teams will race against each other in the same way.
Riders simply race on their own against the clock in an effort to record the fastest time. There is also a team time trial event, where a group of riders will aim to secure the fastest time.
This is a multiple event race which can last over a number of days. It’s an equivalent to a heptathlon or similar in athletic. Cyclists will compete in multiple disciplines, such as a scratch race, individual pursuit, time trial, elimination race, flying lap and points race. The winner is the rider who earns the most points over the course of the competition.
This is similar to the individual pursuit but the difference is the two - or sometimes four - riders start next to each other. The aim is still to beat the other rider(s) to the finish line, but there are different tactics involved here. It’s not just about racing as fast as you can. Cyclists have to time their attack and work of defence.
A team will race in a time trial over a certain number of laps.
Possibly one of the strangest events in track cycling. The Keirin is a race that follows a speed-controlled motorbike or a certain part of the race. Riders must remain behind the pacer bike, which gradually increases its speed. At a certain point the bike will disappear and the riders must then sprint for the finish. This race is designed to test a rider’s endurance and sprint capacity.
Betting on Olympic cycling
Olympic cycling differs from Tour cycling because there is simply not enough time and resources to properly plan a large tour lasting weeks. So organisers have created an Olympic schedule that roughly mirrors the Track cycling schedule used at the World Championship.
But there is one big race in the Olympics that reflects the standard of Tour cycling. This is the road and off-road events which have grown in popularity over the past two decades. Individual men and women will race for gold in the road race, while they also compete in a time trial. There are men and women team events in both race and time trial format too.
Mountain biking is also a big feature at the Olympics, with competitors racing along dirt tracks and other off-road circuits in an effort to nail medals. Mountain biking can be fiercely competitive, with riders needing both endurance and spirit capacity to stand a chance of winning a medal.
BMX riding was also part of the Olympic profile for three Games but was dropped in 2020.
When betting on cycling - be it on the track or offload - you will almost certainly be betting on who will win the race. But some Olympics markets will offer you the chance to bet on how many medals you think a country will earn in a particular discipline. For example, you could bet on Great Britain to win over 3.5 gold medals in the velodrome at a Games. Or you could bet on Australia to win under 2.5 medals in total at the same event.
Bet on cycling
Now you know a bit more about how to bet on cycling, it’s time to check out what odds and markets we have on offer in the Unibet sportsbook!
We cover loads of cycling events throughout the year, from the grand Tours to World Championships and the Olympics. The beauty of cycling is that it’s a global sport, so there is always a competition happening somewhere in the world.