When you think about sports betting, cycling probably won’t be the first sport that comes to mind. Granted, it is not exactly the most glamorous or most popular sport in the world. But it still has a dedicated global fan base, with millions tuning in to watch the big events like the Tour de France every year. The sport has historically had a strong following in continental Europe, especially in countries like France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Germany. All the 3 major cycling championship events are also based in Europe.
Meanwhile, across the channel in the UK, cycling has had something of a mini revival in the last decade both as a recreation and as a sport. The success of Team GB at London and Rio Olympics and the rise of Chris Froome as a serial Tour de France winner has increased the overall profile of the sport in the UK. Stars like Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, David Kenny, Laura Trott and Chris Froome are now household names and punters are showing more and more interest in cycling bets.
As a result, major sports betting companies in the UK are doing what their counterparts in cycling hotbeds like Netherlands and France have been doing for decades now: offering bets on the major cycling events including “grand tours”.
The 3 Grand Tours
Now, the cycling calendar is chock full of international races and competitions, but these grand tours are the pinnacle of the sport, the most gruelling races that attract the best racers in the world as well as the biggest crowds and TV audiences.
Grand Tours all take place in Europe, stretch across 3 weeks and involve professional teams of riders. They involve mass start races (like a marathon) as well as individual and team trials. Riders usually have to cover around 3300 km in a Grand Tour, which is broken into stages, and can involve flat stages as well the more gruelling hilly and mountainous stages. During the race, the rider who is leading overall with the least aggregate time at the end of each stage gets to wear a special coloured leader’s jersey.
The 3 grand tours in increasing order of significance are:
Vuelta a Espana: this is the youngest event, first organised in 1935 after the increased success of the other two Grand Tours. It primarily takes place in Spain, with some stages passing through neighbouring countries. It is an annual event, conducted in August-September. The race involves sprint stages as well as uphill climbs through the Pyrenees mountains. The general classification leader wears a red jersey.
Giro d’Italia: Started in 1909 as marketing ploy for an Italian newspaper, this is the second most prestigious cycling event in the world. This is also a multi-stage, annual event held in the months of May-June. It also involves stages of sprints as well as mountain stages in the Italian Alps. The race leader wears a pink jersey (the ‘maglia rosa’)
Tour de France: The oldest and most prestigious cycling event in the world and the pinnacle of the sport for any rider, the Tour de France began in 1903 as a marketing event for the magazine L’Auto. The 3 week long multi-stage annual race is considered the most gruelling cycling event in the world and involves mountain stages in both the French Pyrenees and Alps. The leader gets to wear the coveted Yellow Jersey, the most famous symbol in the cycling world.
Top Betting Companies for Cycling Markets in UK and Netherlands
Most bookmakers have a strong online presence and they are usually the safest and most convenient option to place bets on sporting event like pro cycling. The UK sports betting market is one of the most mature and well regulated, with numerous bookmakers plying their trade both online and offline.
In the Netherlands though, online gambling has hitherto been strictly regulated by the state, but many UK bookmakers do accept bets from Dutch citizens. And a new law is about to be passed in 2017 legalizing and regulating online gambling in Netherlands, so the industry there is set to soar in the coming years,
Here are the top online sports betting options for UK and Dutch citizens for cycling markets:
De Lotto: online gambling arm of the company owned by the Dutch Government, has total monopoly on online sports betting in the Netherlands. Very limited betting markets, but it does include cycling as well as other sports like football.
Betsson: the Scandinavian bookmaker now has an active presence in Netherlands, after buying out several Dutch online betting companies in anticipation of the 2017 law legalising the entry of non-Dutch bookmakers in the online gambling market.
William Hill: the largest bookmaker in the UK and Ireland with 25% market share, they also have a global presence, including in the Netherlands. Has a good cycling market, with all the three Grand Tours as well as Olympic events and domestic cycling events on offer. They have live betting and mobile betting options as well.
Paddy Power: major UK bookmaker well known for their outrageous marketing stunts, they also offer cycling market on Grand Tours as well as domestic UK cycling events. Has live betting and mobile options.
Betfair: largest online betting exchange in the world, they merged with Paddy Power in February 2016, but have been maintained as a separate brand. Has outright options on Grand Tours in cycling.
Ladbrokes/Coral: both bookmakers are currently involved a merger deal and once approved, the resulting company would be the largest bookmaker in the UK. They offer outright betting on Grand Tours like Tour de France on both their sites. Open to Dutch customers as well.
Sports Betting Odds in Cycling
In the cycling betting market, the main focus is on the general classification where the rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of the race is the winner. You can bet outright on a rider to win the whole event, before the start of the event as well as during the race.
Bettors can also place best on individual stage winners as well as who is awarded the overall leader’s jersey at the end of each stage. Bets are also placed on specific categories like points classification (for stages involving sprinters), mountain classification (for climbers), all round classification and team tables.
The betting odds in cycling are no different from any other sports. UK companies generally follow the fractional odds (“bookies”) while in continental Europe, decimal odds are preferred.
Fractional Odds: Currently most bookmakers are accepting outright bets on the 2017 Tour de France. On Paddy Power, Chris Froome has odds of 8/11. If you bet £100 on Froome now, if he wins you winnings will be 8/11 multiplied by your stake plus the actual stake.
Total winnings on £100: 8 / 11 x 100 + 100 = £172.72
Decimal Odds: using the same example, BetFair has Chris Froome at odds of 1.72 to win in 2017. If you bet £100 on him, his win would net you an amount equal to 1.72 multiplied by your stake.
Total winnings on £100: 1.72 x 100 = 172.
Learn the formula and you have nothing else to worry about. Just remember that in fractional odds, you have to add your stake amount to the multiplied figure to get the final winnings, while in decimal odds, your stake amount multiplied by the odds is the total winnings.
Sports Betting On The Go With Mobile
The internet has really taken sports betting to the next level. Now you can easily place bets on live sporting events as they happen, regardless of you location as long as you have a smartphone. Almost all major bookmakers have live betting options and have their own mobile apps to enable punters to place bets on the go. If you want to do online sports betting, mobile is the best way to do it. It is convenient since you can bet on the go virtually from anywhere. And you also get the most up to date information online often from the bookmaker apps themselves, giving you a vital edge. It is also incredibly fun, sine you can place bets while the action is unfolding! You absolutely have to try it to believe it.