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Betting on Cycling at the Olympic Games

It’s safe to say that Olympic cycling betting has gone up a gear or two in recent years.

For the best part of a century, track and road were the only two cycling disciplines on the Olympic schedule. Fast-forward to today, and there are four disciplines with 22 different events – presenting us with countless opportunities to win money.

To make the most of these opportunities, make sure you use the best sites for betting on Olympic cycling online.

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In this guide, we explain how to bet on cycling at the Olympics and share a range of useful tips to help you win cash. We also discuss the differences between indoor and outdoor cycling betting at the Olympics, along with a host of other helpful advice.

Here are the various sections of our Olympics cycling betting guide.

Cycling Events at the Summer Olympics

Cycling was part of the very first Olympic Games program all the way back in 1896, with one road event and five track events featuring on the schedule.

Over the years, more road and track events were added to the Olympic program before cross-country cycling debuted at Atlanta 1996 and took the total number of Olympic cycling disciplines to three.

BMX racing was then added to the schedule in 2008, with BMX freestyle debuting at Tokyo 2020.

There are 22 Olympic cycling events across four disciplines; 11 for men and 11 for women.

Before we tell you how to bet on Olympic cycling, let’s learn about all the cycling disciplines and events on the current Olympic program.

Track Cycling

The bulk of the Olympic cycling program comprises events from the track discipline. Overall, there are 12 track events – six for each gender.

All the track events take place in a velodrome, featuring a steeply banked oval track. Tracks consist of two 180-degree circular bends and two straights.

Here are the current Olympic track cycling events.

  • Sprint – Races are contested between two riders across three laps of the track. The first rider over the finish line wins. The top 16 riders qualify for the knockout phase, with the remaining two athletes competing in the final.
  • Team Sprint – This event sees teams of three riders battling to record the fastest three laps of the track. The quickest team over the three laps wins.
  • Keirin – Another sprint event, Keirin involves all the riders starting behind a pace-setter. The pace bike gradually builds its speed before leaving the track with 2.5 laps remaining – leaving the riders to sprint for the finish line.
  • Team Pursuit – This event requires teams of four riders cover four kilometers, equating to 16 laps of the track. Two teams race against each other on the track, meaning the team that posts the fastest time is the winner.
  • Madison – Arguably the most complex Olympic cycling event, the Madison sees teams of two riders compete together to score points in intermediate sprints. Only one member of each team can race at one time, so riders switch frequently to avoid fatigue.
  • Omnium – This event contains four different races – tempo, scratch, elimination, and points. The Omnium is an endurance event, and the rankings are determined by combining the rider’s points from each race.

Road Cycling

The road discipline is far less complex, with only two events for each gender. The road discipline comprises the road race and the time trial.

As you would expect, these events are held outdoors on closed public roads. The route usually features a mixture of steep ascents and descents, along with a series of flat straights. The varying terrains make the race more challenging for the riders.

Let’s take a closer look at the two road cycling events in the Olympics.

Road Race

Multiple cyclists compete in the road race, and the main aim is to cross the finish line first.

The number of competitors and the race distance vary between the men’s and women’s events.

Gender Competitors Race Length Winning Time
Male 144 241.5 km (150.1 miles) 6:10.05
Female 68 141 km (87.6 miles) 3:51.27

Time Trial

This event sees riders race alone against the clock, attempting to record the fastest time.

Olympic time trials normally require riders to complete two laps of a course, which is much shorter than the road race.

Gender Competitors Race Length Winning Time
Male 40 54.5 km (33.9 miles) 1:12.15
Female 25 29.8 km (18.5 miles) 44:26


Cross-country cycling (XC) is the only form of mountain biking practiced at the Games. The discipline was introduced at Atlanta 1996 and has remained on the Olympic schedule ever since.

XC courses generally consist of a mixture of forest paths, fire roads, and rocky mountain sections, making races extremely challenging – and often dangerous – for the riders. Due to the testing terrain, cross-country bicycles feature suspension forks.

The XC event requires competitors to complete several laps of a circuit, and each lap must be between four and ten kilometers.

At Rio 2016, the course was 4.85 km. The men’s event was won by Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, who recorded a time of 1:33.28. Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds claimed gold in the women’s event, posting a winning time of 1:30.15.

Watch the video below to see just how challenging an Olympic XC course is.


BMX is the newest Olympic cycling discipline, with the racing event debuting at the 2008 Games. Following three successful editions of the racing event, BMX freestyle was introduced to the Olympic program for Tokyo 2020.

BMXs are much smaller than the bicycles used for track, road, and XC events. They have no gears or suspension but are designed to withstand large jumps.

There are currently two Olympic BMX events.

  • Racing – Riders race against each other on a track, navigating jumps and berms to reach the finish line. There are initial seeding runs and qualification races before the semi-finals and medal race.
  • Freestyle – This event is completely different to racing and sees riders perform tricks on man-made ramps, walls, spines, and other skatepark obstacles. Each competitor gets 60 seconds to perform, with a panel of judges scoring riders between 0.00 and 99.99.

Right, now that you are familiar with all the Olympic cycling events, it’s time to check out the different options for cycling betting at the Olympic Games.

Olympics Cycling Betting Options

Before you start betting on Olympic cycling, you need to know about all the different types of Olympic cycling bets.

There are tons of options when it comes to Olympics cycling betting. To help you get started, we cover all the main markets below.

  • Gold Medal Winner – Just like any Olympic sport, you can bet on the winner of all the cycling events at the Games. All you need to do is pick a rider and back them to win gold.
  • Podium Finish – The top three riders in each event finish on the podium, claiming the gold, silver, and bronze medals. This market allows you to bet on riders to win a medal of any color.
  • Race/Heat Winner – Many of the Olympic cycling events have prelim races or heats before the medal race. Not only can you bet on the medal race, but you can also wager on the various races within each event.
  • Live Olympic Cycling Betting – Certain Olympic cycling disciplines allow for live betting, too. During the longer events, you can place in-play wagers on the outcome of the race, as well as occurrences within the race.
  • Olympic Cycling Props – If prop bets are your thing, keep an eye out for Olympics cycling props. Many sportsbooks provide lines such as “nation to win the most medals” and “cyclist to win multiple medals.”

That covers all the main markets for cycling betting at the Olympics. Next up, we share our top Olympics cycling betting tips.

Tips for Betting on Olympic Cycling

Even if you are an experienced sports bettor, there are specific tips for betting on cycling at the Olympic Games that you should be aware of.

Every Olympic cycling event is different. So, we recommend following the tips below to give yourself the best possible chance of winning money.

Consider the Race Distance

Race distances vary drastically from one Olympic cycling discipline to another. The shortest track events only last a handful of laps, while the men’s road race takes place on a 150-mile course and lasts around six hours.

Top Tip
Before you lay down your Olympic cycling bets, it is vital to consider the length of each race and familiarize yourself with the nuances of each event.

Road and XC disciplines are often hugely competitive, as dozens of riders compete over a long period of time. This can lead to unexpected results and unlikely medal winners.

On the flip side, track and BMX events are shorter and can sometimes be easier to predict. The bookies’ favorites usually prevail, meaning the outsiders rarely upset the Olympic cycling odds.

Mass Starts vs. Time Trials

While certain Olympic cycling events require athletes to compete individually, others involve multiple riders starting a race simultaneously. Consequently, how a race starts can impact cycling betting at the Olympics.

A mass start is used for disciplines like the road race and cross-country. With dozens of competitors jostling for position early on, crashes can often occur.

Mass starts can be somewhat crazy in cycling races.

Favored riders that may be expected to win these events could get involved in an incident at the beginning of a race, hindering their chances of claiming a medal.

On the other hand, athletes in single-rider disciplines like time trails don’t have to worry about other competitors at the start line.

Before you part ways with your cash, we suggest considering the type of start used for each event. It could be wise to use smaller stakes when betting on races with mass starts, as the likelihood of an incident occurring is greater.

Think About Competition Stages

Many cycling events in the Olympics comprise multiple heats or races before the medals are handed out. While some disciplines only have one medal race, others have a series of prelims before the showpiece.

When it comes to betting on cycling at the Olympic Games, it is important that you know which stage of the competition you are gambling on.

For example, 27 riders competed in the men’s sprint event at Rio 2016. But before the two-man final race, there were qualifying rounds, repechages, quarterfinals, and semifinals, as well as a bronze medal race.

Top riders may opt to conserve their energy in the opening rounds, cruising into the latter stages without overexerting themselves. Meanwhile, underdogs must give their all from the off in order to advance.

Top Tip
Make sure you consider the stage of the competition when you are analyzing the Olympics cycling odds.

Research All the Riders

Long before the Games get underway, you can gain an edge over the bookmakers by researching all the riders participating in the upcoming Olympics.

We recommend studying the results of the Olympic qualifying events, assessing the form of the riders in the lead-up to the Games, and gathering as much information as possible about the competitors.

Nowadays, the internet allows us to find out everything we need to know about Olympic athletes, so why not make the most of the information?

The official Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) website is an excellent place to learn about all the riders. The site contains up-to-date world rankings for road, track, XC, and BMX, along with useful stats and news.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cycling Betting

Many Olympic cycling betting tips are relevant to all disciplines. However, there are certain differences between indoor and outdoor events.

Acknowledging the following points will stand you in good stead for gambling on any cycling event at the Games.

Weather Can Impact Outdoor Events

With all the track disciplines taking place in a velodrome, you don’t need to worry about the weather when it comes to betting on Olympic cycling events indoors. Outdoor events, on the other hand, can be greatly affected by Mother Nature.

Heavy rain makes courses wet, invariably leading to more crashes. Strong winds can unsettle riders, too, forcing them to race with caution.

You should also consider the temperature in outdoor cycling events. Competitors from typically hot countries will be accustomed to riding in warmer conditions, while athletes from colder nations will be used to racing in cooler climates.

Top Tip
We suggest using smaller stakes while betting on outdoor cycling events. After all, we can’t control the weather, can we?

Consider the Atmosphere in Velodromes

With thousands of spectators crammed into a velodrome, the atmosphere for track events can be electric.

Sure, fans line the streets for road events. But large sections of outdoor races aren’t accessible to the public. On the flip side, thousands of onlookers can cheer on their favored riders in track events, giving certain competitors an edge.

Of course, the best riders nearly always come out on top. But when home supporters cheer on athletes from the host nation, they can gain an advantage over their rivals by using adrenaline to find a new level.

Although Great Britain boasts some of the best riders on the planet, it is no coincidence that Team GB completely dominated the track events at the London Olympics in 2012.

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain 7 1 1 9
Australia 1 1 2 4
Germany 1 1 1 3
Denmark 1 1

The Olympics Are Not the Pinnacle of Road Cycling

While the Olympics are the pinnacle of track cycling, the top road cyclists have other competitions away from the Games that are far more prestigious.

In professional road cycling, the “Grand Tours” mean more than any other competition. The Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana are two of the three majors, while the Tour de France is the out-and-out holy grail.

The world’s best track cyclists always compete at the Olympics, yet some of the leading road cyclists may not feature at the Games.

With many top riders saving themselves for the Grand Tours, the road cycling events at the Olympics are often wide open. Some of the best road cyclists opt out of the Games, giving the bookies’ outsiders a greater chance of winning a medal.

Before you bet on Olympic cycling, consider the competitiveness of the event you are gambling on.

Olympic Cycling Stats and Records

When it comes to betting on cycling at the Olympics, it is important that you know about the history of the sport at the Games.

In this section, we look at the leading nations in Olympic cycling history and discuss the most successful Olympic cyclists of all time.

Best Nations in Olympic Cycling

Cycling has featured at every single Olympic Games since 1896, meaning there are stacks of past records to analyze. In total, 44 nations have won an Olympic cycling medal over the years, while 31 countries have claimed at least one gold.

The table below details the most successful countries in the history of Olympic cycling, covering all events and disciplines.

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
France 41 27 23 91
Italy 33 16 10 59
Great Britain 32 30 25 87
Netherlands 18 19 12 49
United States 16 21 18 55
Australia 14 19 18 51
Germany 14 14 16 44
Soviet Union 11 4 9 24
Denmark 7 9 10 26
Belgium 7 7 11 25

As you can see, France has won more Olympic cycling medals than any other nation. With 41 first-place finishes, 45% of France’s medals are gold.

Great Britain only sits four medals behind France on the overall leaderboard. But with 33 golds, Italy sits just ahead of Team GB in the medal table.

It is worth noting that European countries totally dominate the top ten. The United States and Australia are the only exceptions here, while the Soviet Union no longer exists.

Greatest Olympic Cyclists of All Time

Only a handful of cyclists have won six or more Olympic medals. Let’s take a look at the most successful athletes in the history of Olympic cycling and analyze their achievements.

Cyclist Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Bradley Wiggins Great Britain 5 1 2 8
Chris Hoy Great Britain 6 1 0 7
Jason Kenny Great Britain 6 1 0 7
Leontien van Moorsel Netherlands 4 1 1 6
Burton Downing United States 2 3 1 6
Anna Meares Australia 2 1 3 6

Bradley Wiggins is officially the most successful cyclist in the history of the Olympic Games, having claimed eight medals between 2000 and 2016.

After picking up a bronze medal in 2000, the Brit bagged one gold, one silver, and one bronze in 2004. He then clinched two golds at Beijing 2008 before winning gold at London 2012 and again at Rio 2016.

Fellow Brit Chris Hoy secured three of his six golds at Beijing 2008, while Jason Kenny achieved the same feat at Rio 2016.

Leontien van Moorsel is the most successful female cyclist in Olympic history, having scooped four golds, one silver, and one bronze between 2000 and 2004.

More Olympic Sports for Betting

There are very few Olympic sports that boast as many events as cycling. For that reason, betting on cycling at the Olympics is always entertaining, as there are countless ways to win money.

Whether you enjoy the more popular track and road disciplines, or you prefer the obscure events like cross-country and BMX, cycling betting at the Olympic Games caters for everyone.

There are plenty of other Olympic sports that comprise multiple disciplines and events. If you enjoyed this Olympic cycling betting guide, make sure you check out our other pages dedicated to betting on Olympic sports.

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