The bookies can’t know everything about every one of the 200 runners. Learn the secret of betting on cycling and get ready to cash in on the upcoming Giro D'Italia!
How To Bet On Cycling
Let’s make no mistake about it, cycling is a hard sport to bet on...you are effectively betting sometimes on a 200-runner handicap with just three places being paid out and scandalous over-rounds from the bookies. Accidents, punctures, illness, and mistakes can all cost you a bet.
At the same time though, like any sport, if you know your onions and do your research, you can start to narrow down the field to a more manageable selection process. And as there are so many runners in most races, and the bookies can’t know everything about every one of the 200 runners, you can sometimes find some big priced winners amongst the runners for any given race.
Horses For Courses
Like horse racing, there are ‘horses for courses’ when it comes to cycling. You’ll have your sprinters like Kittel or Greipel, the ‘puncheurs’ like Gilbert or Valverde who like the short steep hills to attack on, climbers like Quintana or Contador who love long Alpine passes and your Time Triallists like Cancellara and Martin, the big powerhouses against the clock.
The key when trying to find a winning bet on cycling is to try to work out the most likely scenario for the race and the likely key protagonists given the terrain and likely way that the race is going to be run.
Sometimes it is very clearly going to be a sprinters stage and ninety nine times out of a hundred when it looks like being a sprinters stage, it finishes in a sprint. The big sprinters teams ensure that, and any rebel breakaways are usually caught with ease once they decide to reel them in. The harder races to work out are the ones which are not necessarily suited to sprinters or pure climbers – ones where breaks are likely to go and you need to try to figure out who is likely to be in the breaks and back accordingly – very often these runners are very big prices, like +15000, +20000 and so on.
Although it can be very difficult to pick out a potential winner from any given stage, this is reflected in the odds that can be got on most riders. On wide open stages it can be 1000 or higher on the ‘favourite’ with odds rapidly rising in to the 20s, 30s, 40s and well up in to the hundreds. So although it is hard to pick winners, spreading small stakes around on riders that are 3000 and bigger means that when you do pull it off it can be a nice return.
If you have access to a bookmaker who prices up a race in-running, you can watch how a race is unfolding and stake accordingly during the race.
Another way to bet on cycling is on the ‘Top 3’ market, where you can bet on a selection to place in the top 3 only, not necessarily to win. So you might really fancy a rider to do well in a race, but think there may be one or two too strong for him, then it might be worth a place bet. An example of this would be when Valverde and Boasson-Hagen looked good bets to place in the World’s in 2012, as it looked to me like Gilbert would win it, but they’d be close...They finished 2nd and 3rd to Gilbert, landing the win bet and both place bets.
The favourites always win right?
I may have said earlier that betting on cycling is like betting on a wide open 190 runner handicap, but in actual fact, in most races there are actually not very many riders who will probably win. For example, when it comes to a big sprint stage in a race like the Giro d’Italia, there may be only five or six riders who are capable of winning the sprint. Another example would be in Time Trials, there may also be only about 5 or 6 riders likely to win – this year’s opening time trial in the Giro d’Italia is an example of that, there’s only a handful of riders out of 198 starters who are likely to win. The top two favourites make up over 70% of the probability of winning.
This also applies to overall betting markets too like the Green Points jersey or the overall winners of races like the Tour de France or the Tour of Italy. For example, in the Giro d’Italia this year, Vincenzo Nibali is just +150 to win it at Bet365 and Ladbrokes, an incredibly short price for such a tough three week tour. But when you go through the remaining candidates, there are actually only about 5-10 riders out of 198 that are likely to win it.
So very often, you can narrow down a field quite well, based on research, race and rider knowledge and form guides. You get to know which riders like what types of courses. Which riders are likely to be in an early breakaway that may stay away. Which riders are suffering fatigue, illness or are really up for a stage as it passes near their home town or where their girlfriend lives! These sorts of factors all need to be weighed up before you make your bets.
But you have to move fast with your bets. Bookmakers generally are not as tuned in or focused on cycling as the punters are or they might be on a sport like racing. They can often make mistakes and mis-read a stage and the chances of several riders, but you have to move fast as they will dramatically move their prices on small stakes as they are scared of being picked off. It is often like a full on sprint as soon as the bookies come out with their prices before a stage, as people try to take the juicy prices first.
Overall, if you like cycling and think you know a thing or two about it, having a bet on it adds a whole new dimension to watching a race. You encourage your rider to save energy and do nothing, to wait for the right moment, to follow the right wheel. And when you land a +6600 or +10000 winner, it’s almost as good as winning the race itself. Follow me on @cyclingbetting for all the latest news and tips from the Giro d’Italia, cycling odds and clycling betting in general.