When it comes to events to bet on during the Summer Olympics few are any more attractive than the men’s road cycling. The sport is predictable enough to give handicappers a chance, but wide open enough to provide good prices. The participants are largely well known, and we have plenty of opportunities to see what they are capable doing. The course makes a big impact, but it does so in ways that are often predictable. In short, it’s an ideal event for smart bettors to seek nice payoffs. When you are looking to make some money betting on men’s road cycling here are six handicapping factors to consider:
What’s the style of course for the road race? – There are two different events in road cycling – the road race and the time trial. Cyclists don’t have the option to enter just one – they have to compete in both unless they are injured during one. When you are looking at the field, the important first step is to look at which riders are time trial specialists who aren’t likely to be at their best in the road race and vice versa. Once you have isolated the road race specialists you need to look at what the course looks like and what type of riders it will favor. If it is a relatively flat course, for example, then it will favor the sprinters because the peloton will likely be together at the finish line and a group sprint will decide the results. Sprinters typically aren’t strong climbers, though, so if there are big hills to contend with during the ride – especially if the hills come in the second half of the ride – then the peloton will be divided, the sprinters won’t be part of the action, and a climbing specialist with a good finishing kick will be a factor. A tougher course can also draw on more strategy because of the possibility of a breakaway that can lead to a victory. Use this information in your cycling handicapping.
What’s the style of the time trial? – The time trial will typically be long and flat to maximize the possibility for speed. If there are any variations on that, though, it could have an impact on who is the most competitive and where you’ll place your bets. If the course had a climb of note or a number of tight turns then the time trial specialists with excellent straightaway speed could lose some advantage to more technical riders.
Any team advantage in the road race? – Road racing is typically a team sport. On a professional team one rider will be the feature rider, and the rest of his teammates will be focused on doing everything they can – setting the pace, providing food and water, giving up their bikes if there is a crash, or protecting the pace – to give their star the best chance of winning. Because the Olympics are based on countries and not teams, though, the teams that people typically ride with and build chemistry with are usually broken up. Each team can only have a maximum of five riders as well, so any team work that could happen would feature smaller teams. There is still going to be some teamwork, but strong riders from poorly represented countries could find themselves at a disadvantage. On the other hand savvy sports bettors know that if there is a country that fields a team that has ridden together professionally then they could have a particular advantage in the event.
What riders were in the Tour de France? – One very unique factor of men’s road cycling in the Olympics is that the event occurs very soon after the Tour de France. That event is one of the most grueling in all of sports, and it takes a lot out of riders. There really isn’t enough recovery time between the Tour and the Olympics for riders to be at their peak most years, though many will attempt to ride both. The winner of the Tour will be a huge star in the sport and will likely draw much more betting attention than he deserves because of the intense effort required to win that race. It is possible for a rider to compete in the Tour and still be in shape for the Olympics if he wasn’t competing hard in the latter half of the Tour but was just using it for training – perhaps because he was out of contention to win the Tour by that point.
Which pros skipped the Tour? – It is quite common for top pros to strategically skip the Tour in order to be at their best for the Olympics. It could be that they instead competed in the Giro d’Italia earlier in the spring, or that they have just trained and competed in smaller races in order to peak for the Olympics. These riders can be particularly dangerous because if they prepare properly then they could be ready to perform at a high level. These riders are worthy of attention, and smart sports bettors will pay close attention to them.
Any serious amateurs? – The best riders in the world typically ride as pros, so the Olympics are often the domain of pro riders – at least since the Olympics decided to allow pros to compete. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be serious amateur contenders, though – particularly in the time trial. Focusing solely on the high profile professionals isn’t always the best way for those betting on Olympic cycling to find winners.