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First introduced in the 19th century, bicycles have not only provided an efficient mode of transport for humans over the last 100+ years, but a vehicle for satisfying our competitive urges. There is now an estimated one billion bikes in the world; however, the number of elite cyclists is much lower.
Despite the sport of cycling offering a number of formats for people to compete in, there are still very few high-level practitioners in comparison to the number of bicycles available around the world. Because of professional cycling's exclusive culture, the level of competition is extremely high in every discipline and that helps to create a much more entertaining spectacle.
Although live online streaming of cycling is still a relatively new industry, the sport itself has long been popular as a TV product and this culture is now spreading into the desktop and mobile world.
The History Cycle Racing
Almost as soon as cycles were invented, people started to race them. Traditional "boneshakers" were originally used for races, but in 1890 a more refined version of the cycle was developed for racing. As the engineering of bicycles improved, races gradually increased in size, stature and speed and by the middle of the 20th century the culture of racing had taken hold of the US, Europe and the UK.
Indeed, with many cities building their own velodromes (oval tracks designed specifically for cycle racing), the sport became a major industry from the 1950s onwards. Although latter years would see a decline in interest among US citizens, the sport remained a hugely popular endeavour in Europe thanks, in part, to the Tour de France.
First established in 1903, the Tour de France has grown to become the premier endurance race in the cycling world and, today, its top performers are considered to be the fittest people on the planet. Beyond the Tour de France, which is a road race, cyclists are able to compete in a number of testing formats, including mountain terrain, dirt tracks and indoor velodromes.
Cycling: A World of Racing Options
As we've established, professional cycling offers athletes a myriad of options. Although road racing and track competitions are the most popular among fans and competitors, there are also a number of additional formats through which riders can test their pedal power.
Road Racing: Unsurprisingly, these races take place on road surfaces. The majority of road races take place in Europe and the UK and there is a major focus on endurance in these events. However, given the variety of landscapes on which major road races such as the Tour de France take place, competitors are required to possess a number of skills. Although endurance will always be required, long sprints, steep climbs and sharp bends are all common in road racing which means the rider has to be a complete athlete to perform at the highest levels.
Track Racing: Taking place inside a velodrome, track cycling is most suited to speed racing. Given the slickness of the wooden tracks and the inward sloping structure, competitors are able to generate massive amounts of speed. Events such as the Cycling World Championships and the Olympics are particular highlights in the cycling world as each festival will host a variety of races, including two-man sprints, individual speed endurance races and team pursuits.
Mountain Biking: Mountain bike races are often considered the most dangerous given the unpredictability of each course. Because each race take places on dirt tracks, usually through wooded or rocky areas, the flow of a race can often change depending on the route a rider chooses. A slight deviation from the standard racing line can result in a spectacular crash and that's one of the reasons mountain biking as a sport has become hugely popular in recent years. In terms of formats, the two main options for competitors are cross-country and downhill races.
BMX Racing: The most acrobatic of cycle racing genres, BMX races are often single lap sprints around a purpose built track. Looking similar to motocross races, a BMX showdown will often involve sharp turns, sudden dips and large jumps. Racers are tasked with crossing the finishing line first, but in some events it's also possible to earn additional points for style over jumps.
Major Cycle Races
When it comes to popularity and prestige, there are few races that can compete with the Tour de France. Taking place over a number of weeks every year and bringing together the best cyclists in the world, the Tour de France is a veritable feast of action for every cycling fan.
However, beyond the Tour de France you'll also find a plethora of additional viewing options. The Olympics naturally sits at the top of this list, but you'll also find the following options will all be available to watch via TV broadcasts and live online streams.
In fact, when it comes to major cycling competitions, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the main body that oversees championship events in all four major disciplines.
Road Cycling World Championship: Bringing together competitors from different nations and splitting them into various categories, such as elite males and females, under-23s and juniors, this annual festival consists predominately of mass participation races and individual time trials. The first World Championship took place in 1921 and only featured male amateurs. However, as the event has evolved a variety of categories have since been added with the most recent addition coming in 2012 when time trials were introduced.
Track Cycling World Championship: Pre-1900 this event was organised by the International Cycling Association (ICA). However, following the abandonment of this organisation in favour of the UCI, the World Championship was restructured into their modern form. Today, the annual festival is held in various locations around the world and fans of the sport are able to watch riders compete in a range of disciplines, including time trials, the keirin, pursuits, sprints and the madison.
Mountain Bike World Championship: First held in the US in 1990, the UCI's Mountain Bike World Championship is split into various disciplines, including downhill, cross-country and trials. The events often take place over a number of weeks and the winners of each discipline are awarded a gold medal as well as a rainbow jersey which they are permitted to hold for a full calendar year until the next Championship. Unlike many major cycle events, riders at the Mountain Bike World Championship are organised by nations instead of commercial teams.
BMX World Championship: Taking place over the course of three days, the annual BMX World Championship is a single event (unlike the BMX Supercross World Cup) and racers compete in a number of races to determine the best overall rifer. Winners are crowned the world champion and given a rainbow jersey to wear for the year. Former champions include Dale Holmes, Matt Hadan, Thomas Allier and Florent Boutte.
Betting on Cycling
Betting on professional cycling events is still a relatively niche activity online. However, given the recent rise in popularity of live streams and TV coverage, the practice is now becoming more common. Although the general public are still less familiar with cycling as a professional sport than other activities, such as football, tennis and golf, there are a number of enticing betting markets offered by the leading bookmakers.
For anyone tempted by the variety of cycling offers in the virtual arena, by far the most important thing you need to consider before anteing up is your bankroll. Make sure you have an amount of money set aside that you're comfortable losing. Once you've done this, break it down into small increments of no more than three percent the total size of your bankroll and use this for each wager.
For example, if you had a bankroll of £100, then each race you bet on should cost you no more than £3. Sticking to this limit will not only save you the most money when luck isn't on your side, but give you just enough scope to win a healthy amount (in relation to the size of your overall bankroll) when luck is with you.
Cycling Live Streams
Live cycling streams for the more niche events are still relatively rare online. However, when you start to navigate around PlayLiveStream you'll find a generous selection of options. From the Tour de France to the largest track events, our platform has been designed to bring you the latest and greatest action from the world of cycling. Indeed, it doesn't matter where you are or what your preferences are, PlayLiveStream has a variety of options guaranteed to keep you entertained.
What's even more impressive is that you can move effortlessly from cycling to football, tennis, golf or even greyhound racing with a few simple clicks (or touches of your screen if you're watching live streams via your smartphone). Finally, if you're a fan of betting and want to add some extra spice to your cycling adventures, then our list of recommended bookmakers are on hand to give you the best odds and offers on all the biggest events.