Report: How to improve your cycling betting skills? – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

As with any sport, cycling has a small section of fans who are into betting. Regardless of whether you’re with it or against it it’s a part of sport, and whilst the attention is mostly given to the risks – with good reason – and failures that come from it, I am exploring stories of success. I have had a conversation with one of the most talented and successful punters in the business, if you are out and around on Twitter’s cycling community you have surely seen him at some point during this past year, and we know him as Eritropoetina.

“I’m 29 years old, born and living in Belgium. I studied journalism but didn’t become a journalist just because it’s too difficult for me to be objective! I started to watch cycling in 2001 and became an Ullrich fan, instantly. It started with the Tour de France, and my love for cycling has grown year after year.” Tina –  as I will be referring to him for short – works in the administrative section of a car garage, he is a regular cycling fan who’s found on Twitter a community of people who share as much passion for bike racing as he does, however he has found a lot of popularity out of sharing his bets which have gone out to be wildly successful.

So we know who he is, but how did this story begin? “I started betting around 2014/2015, but it was just occasional. In August 2017 an ‘internet friend’ started to talk about Bingoal [a Belgian bookie] and how he made money with cycling betting. I realized I made progress during the years and could read the races very well so from that moment on I became a full time cycling punter.” By that moment he’s referring to the 2017 Vuelta a España, where he took hefty profit from the wins of Alexey Lutsenko and Miguel Ángel López. “A little anecdote from that Lutsenko win: One year earlier I visited Alcossebre and I climbed the road to Ermita Santa Lucia [the finale of stage 5]. I said to my wife: This would be a nice finish for a Vuelta stage. And so it happened. First ever stage finish on Santa Lucia was in 2017, and Lutsenko won.”

“I think my real ‘breakthrough’ was Valgren in Omloop 2018. It was the first time I had tunnel vision, a focus on just one rider. I did just one pre-bet, Valgren top 3 x27, it was a time I was careful and economical with betting, I didn’t want to lose money. The whole race I kept him in my eye, and then Bingoal came with live odds, they added Valgren x300 so I put 5 euros on him. And he did it, with a sneaky attack, a typical Valgren attack. It felt like I did the direction of a cycling race (like a film director). For the first time. I knew I had a talent before but with training and watching, I developed my skills, and i’m still developing.”

From there on Tina went on to increasingly focus on betting and developing the skills needed to thrive in it. The answer may always be different depending on who you ask, however this is his view on the preparation necessary:

“The more you read, the more you watch, the better you bet. I think a good punter needs a good memory. Before betting you must keep an eye on the weather, you need to know everything about wind direction and possibility of rain (e.g Headwind is bad for early attackers, rainy races are in favour of them and of course there are riders who like/dislike heavy rain, that’s a basic thing you need to know. Then you explore the profile of the race and the kind of roads. Some profiles are misleading, so what I do is I draw the route on Google Earth, maybe that’s a bit old fashioned but for me it’s a useful tool, you can create your own profile and take a look at the roads with Streetview. About profiles you must also compare with other races and the associated results of that race. Finally talk to other punters, not to copy their ideas but to get some new insights, that belongs to ‘keep your vision as wide as possible’.”

That is one of Tina’s most important mindsets. “Tunnel vision is something very dangerous, if you stay too long in the tunnel, you’ll miss the momentum and the money flows away. It’s better to have different cards, and as a punter you have to be very flexible, don’t hold on to old ideas, try to renew them.” 

As for inplay betting (for those who unfamiliar, this term refers to betting in the races live, some bookies give that possibility), this is what he has to say: “Live betting is the LSD of cycling betting, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions! Procyclingstats [PCS’s live race ticker] is very helpful. For example if there is a breakaway you can click on every rider and get all their previous results, that’s very useful. If I’m home, I’m fully installed: Laptop in front of me, with all the bookies, PCS and Twitter open, and of course a large TV to watch the race. It’s important you watch on TV to get live images, and not images from 20 seconds ago from a livestream.”

The 20 most profitable bets of 2021 from Eritropoetina/@Eritropoetina

As you can see above it was a season with no shortage of major wins, but which of these (and many others) was the one that felt the best? “It’s difficult to choose one but Andreas Kron in stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse. It was a ‘morning idea’, my mind is very fresh in the morning and most of my good bets are made ‘by sunrise’. I remembered Kron did very well on hard courses, so I gave him a chance that day in Suisse, a mountain stage but most of the time 4-5% which he likes. The thing was, not a single bookie had Kron on the list for that stage. So I had to ask Betway, Unibet, etc. to add him and they did, x67, which was a good odd for me.”

“It was a very very exciting final, with Kron in the front group, he managed to escape with two others [Hermann Pernsteiner and Rui Costa]. He would 100% beat them in a sprint but his sprint was quite miserable, he began too late, I think he could pass Costa however, but the Portuguese moved towards Kron so he hindered him and crossed the line first. That was an anticlimax, but 10 minutes later the jury took the right decision [Rui Costa was posteriorly relegated due to irregular sprinting, giving Andreas Kron the stage win]. It felt good to ask a bookie to add a rider, who wins finally. That’s a kind of fight: the punter vs the bookie. That day I smashed the bookies.”

“Other bets who made me very happy were Vingegaard in the Tour de France and Mäder in the Vuelta a España (Top 10 and Young Rider classification respectively). I tweeted several things about those two before the Grand Tours, I became superfan number 1 in no time and followed them closely, everyday. If they do exactly what you predicted three weeks before, you’re very proud. I’m happy with every bet where I got the feeling ‘this was my own idea’, the honor is more important than the money, no matter what,” he adds.

“No, quite impossible, in terms of gain. It’s not my target to do better otherwise this hobby would become a very stressful thing. Of course I’ll do my best and try to make as much money as possible and keep developing my betting style. One of the reasons why I expect less profit is that I’m limited on too many bookies, but that’s ok for me. I learned to live with it and it doesn’t affect my other goal: to give tips for free,” he explains, regarding the possibility of an even more profitable 2022.

For someone who is considering getting into betting though, Tina also shares some words of wisdom, “The biggest advice is don’t bet on anything you don’t know pretty well. I see many guys on Twitter betting on different sports and when I ask them ‘do you know the sport very good?’ they answer ‘not really’. They make no money. I only bet on cycling because it’s the only sport I follow very closely. I did place some bets in the past on soccer, of course without any success, so before you risk your money you need to know the sport very well and it’s preferably to follow the sport for many years. If you start with betting, begin with money you don’t need in the short term, that’s obvious. Start with small stakes, try to grow step by step,” he warns.

Foto: Getty Images

“But let’s remember, the reason why I can make money with it is because there is a majority who give their money for free to the bookies. That’s the downside of this passion. I’m the lucky guy, the one with brains and talent, but for one Eritropoetina there are 50 losers with a gambling addiction and no money on their bank account. That’s a very sad thing I can’t help with. Success is made from several details.”

On Twitter you can find him in @Eritropoetina. Having had this great contribution from Tina I would like to add some points myself, and help people who are within this bubble of the cycling community. Keep in mind that betting can be a serious problem, create addiction issues and financial losses, so rule number 1 is ALWAYS be responsible and don’t use money you can’t afford to loose! It is a serious situation where you are responsible for your own safety and that overrules everything else.

If you’ve made your decision however, here is a guide that you can use to make sure you have a positive experience (by no particular order):

1 – Your mind has few limits, keep mental notes on as many details as you can on all riders, how well they ride on all terrains, their body language, their behaviour, their relations in the peloton, what kind of weather they are good/bad at, if they like attacked/paced climbs, their positioning ability, etc. There are countless variables in every single stage, expand your knowledge about all of them, this comes with time but also studying results/power data/etc. This is something that differs from person to person, but the more you remember the better, it is in fact the most important skill. 

2 – Follow the right people. Besides traditional media use social media, Twitter mainly. From journalists to race pages to athletes to people who follow everything cycling to statisticians, the amount of insight and information you can gather on a daily basis is beyond crucial.

3 – Read previews as much as you can. Route, road details, weather, race scenarios, breakaway’s chances of winning, favourites, etc. You will find a lot of information and ideas in them and they are frequently done by people who excel at reading races. Ideally you should be able to find and explore these yourself, but the more you read the better.

4 – Sprint days are usually not good to bet on. Many times it’s chaotic which doesn’t compensate the normally far too short odds on the favourites. Betting everyday is not a good idea, there are days where you should keep your powder dry, recognize the days where the risk is not worth it.

5 – If you are planning to bet inplay then pay close attention to the race live, you can pick up hints on who is doing good and who isn’t, and those might elude the bookies. For the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia for example, watching the neutral start on stages suited to breakaways is a brilliant opportunity to bet on riders who aren’t thought of as contenders for the day.

6 – Learn to cope with loss. Most bets don’t work, sometimes you will be on the brink of a big win and it will fail. Don’t go crazy trying to get the money back, stay calm always, don’t let emotions get in the way.

7 – Have a quick finger. Mostly on stages that are suited for breakaways, the odds will drop incredibly quickly, be sure you place your bets as early as possible, 95% of the times it’s worth it. Read previews to know better which days those are, be ahead of the competition.

8 – Don’t focus on a specific type of bet. There are many, and different sites offer different types of bets, always be ready to place bets on different sites if you are serious about it. Sites also offer different odds usually so make sure you get the highest available.

9 – Hometowns, birthdays, training roads, family at the finish, etc. You will find these coincidences from personal details about the riders that motivate them on a specific day more than usual.

10 – Pay attention to all details. Riding in the back of the peloton a lot, riding in the grupetto on a hard day for recovery are good hints of riders saving themselves for something. Domestiques may have high odds on suited days if they show no results, so keep them under eye during all stages as they may actually be on superb form but not showing it.

11 – Keep a list of all your bets. Learn what works and what doesn’t, having everything in front of your eyes will help you organize the whole process.

12 – Learn how to identify as many riders as you can. Be it hair, tattoos, body language, eyewear, doesn’t matter, just KNOW who you are looking at so that you can always see how all riders are doing instead of wasting time wondering who is getting dropped, who’s attacking, who’s working, etc.

13 – A stage-race can be 5, 7, 21 stages long, you only need 1 to make good profit. Be patient, opportunities come, be cold and decisive on your bets, and don’t bet on a rider if you can’t envision him winning (or winning the specific bet, whatever you may be doing).

14 – Don’t base the quality of the riders solely on the odds they have at certain stages. The better you are able to separate this the better chances you have of winning bets with high odds.

15 – It may seem simple but no-one is capable of having it perfect, learn how cycling works. Put yourself in the shoes of the riders, what do they have to do to win/help teammates win. If you are capable of looking at a race and know what you have to do to win it, you can identify which teams (and riders) have the capacity to do so, I do this everytime and it is something you can develop. Road cycling is just about the most complex sport you will ever see, the more you know how every aspect of racing works the better you can understand why X or Y rider wins, and that knowledge can then be applied to other races.

16 – Listen to those who make consistent profit betting in cycling. It is extremely hard to do so, you can learn a lot from those people, not a single person in the world knows how everything works, tell yourself always that there is more that can be done.

Rúben Silva

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