Tokyo Olympics Cycling Road Race Odds: Can Pogacar Win the Gold Medal?

After an unprecedent year where a pandemic forced the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to be pushed back to July 2021, we’re finally ready to kick off the world’s most popular sporting event.

These games feature 33 different sports, which is the most all-time, competing for 339 medals. One of those exciting sports is cycling. More specifically, the men’s road race which takes place on July 24th at 4am ET and can be seen on Peacock.

With cycling’s biggest event the Tour de France just finishing up on July 18th, the majority of competitors for this Olympic road race will look familiar to viewers at home.

Yet, there will be one huge difference, these riders won’t be competing with their normal team jerseys on, instead they will be competing by proudly displaying their country’s national colors.

Let’s take the starting line for this intense race, examine the differences between this event and regular UCI races, look over the different teams, check out the latest cycling odds, and make some Olympic medal winning predictions.

Quick Recap of the 2016 Olympics Men’s Road Race

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics men’s cycling road race was a bit longer than Tokyo’s at 241.5km. It also featured a circuit and tough climbs as well.

Greg Van Avermaet ended up winning the gold medal in the road race, which was Belgium’s first gold in this event since 1952. Jakob Fuglsang won the silver medal for Denmark which was the country’s fourth silver medal in this event.

Rafal Majka took home the bronze for Poland which was the country’s first medal in the road race since 1980.

Italy holds the record for the most gold medals in the road race with five. However, Belgium and Italy are tied with the most total medals in this event with seven apiece.

All three medal winners for the 2016 Olympic road race will be competing in the Tokyo Olympic games.

Tokyo Olympics Betting Odds

The following betting odds are courtesy of Bovada:

  • Tadej Pogacar (SLO) (+400)
  • Primoz Roglic (SLO) (+700)
  • Wout Van Aert (BEL) (+700)
  • Remco Evenpoel (BEL) (+900)
  • Alejandro Valverde (ESP) (+1600)
  • Joao Almeida (POR) (+1600)
  • Michael Woods (CAN) (+1600)
  • Max Schachmann (GER) (+2200)
  • Adam Yates (GBR) (+2500)
  • Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) (+2500)
  • Richard Carapaz (ECU) (+2500)
  • Simon Yates (GBR) (+2500)
  • Dan Martin (IRL) (+3300)
  • David Gaudu (FRA) (+3300)
  • Sergio Higuita (COL) (+3300)
  • Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) (+3300)
  • Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) (+4000)
  • Gianni Moscon (ITA) (+4000)
  • Michal Kwiatowski (POL) (+4000)
  • Bauke Mollema (NED) (+5000)
  • Marc Hirschi (SUI) (+5000)
  • Daniel Martinez (COL) (+6600)
  • Mauri Vansevenant (BEL) (+6600)
  • Alexander Vlasov (ROC) (+8000)
  • Giulio Ciccone (ITA) (+8000)
  • Patrick Konrad (AUT) (+8000)
  • Rigoberto Uran (COL) (+8000)
  • Tom Doumoulin (NED) (+8000)
  • Emanuel Buchmann (GER) (+10000)
  • Esteban Chaves (COL) (+10000)
  • Geraint Thomas (GBR) (+10000)

There are over 100 riders expected to compete in this race. The list of betting options is a partial one and it contains the most relevant cyclists in the sport today.

The Olympics Men’s Road Course

The course for the men’s road race was first unveiled by the fall of 2018. So, teams and riders have had plenty of time to study the course and prepare for it.

The race is 234km long and gains over 4,865 meters in elevation. This is not a flat stage where riders can sprint their way to a victory. Instead, they will have to survive the mountains and hope to have the legs in the end to win the gold medal.

Riders will start in Musashinonomori Park of Chofu which is a suburb of Tokyo. The first 30km is relatively flat road traveling through the outskirts of Tokyo. By the 40km mark, at Sagamilhara, the elevation begins to slowly rise.

The first climb is Doushi Road with an elevation of 1121m. It features a 5.9km ascent with a 5.7% grade and summits at the 80km mark of the race.

A short descent leads to 15km of level riding with views of Yamanakako Lake until they reach the Kagosaka Pass at 1111m. It’s a shorter climb than Doushi Road and comes at 96.5km.

A 15km descent will eventually bring the riders to the foot of Mt. Fuji and the circuit part of the course which comes at the midpoint of this race.

Mt. Fuji Circuit

It’s easiest to describe the final half of the road race as the “Mt. Fuji circuit” due to the country’s highest mountain being a featured attraction along with multiple loops of the Fuji International speedway.

Mt. Fuji will be a 14.3km long ascent with an average incline gradient of six percent. A near-20km descent will take them down to the Fuji Speedway section where they will cross the finishing line twice before the final lap.

On the final lap, riders will have to conquer the Mikuni Pass which has the steepest climb on the day at 6.8km with a 10.2% average incline. There are portions of the climb that will reach 20%.

A small descent will lead to a leveled road for about 10km before the final and smaller climb of Kagosaka pass. The last 20km will be a lengthy descent and then a final pass through the speedway before crossing the finish line.

A Breakdown of the Teams

As mentioned, there will be over 100 riders in this race competing for 48 different countries. However, not all countries have the same number of cyclists on their teams. The maximum number of riders per team is five with one rider as the minimum.

Based on the UCI-rankings, the teams break down with the following number of riders:

Countries With Five Riders

  • Belgium
  • Colombia
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain

Countries With Four Riders

  • Australia
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland

Countries With Three Riders

  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Ireland
  • Kazakhstan
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Africa

Countries With Two Riders

  • Ecuador
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • USA

Countries With One Rider

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Burkina Faso
  • Costa Rica
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hungary
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Romania
  • Rwanda
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela

Tokyo Olympics Road Race Betting Favorites

The following cyclists are considered the odds on favorites to win the gold medal in this road race based on their overall 2021 season so far:

Tadej Pogacar (SLO) (+400)

Heading into the Tour de France, there was some uncertainty surrounding Pogacar’s form after a 5th in the National Slovenia Road Race and 3rd in the Slovenia Time Trial. These were considered subpar results for a rider of Tadej’s talents.

Yet, cynics overlooked his wins at Liege-Bastogne-liege and the Tour of Slovenia just prior to the Slovenian National Championships. And, those critics were definitively proven wrong by time Pogacar cruised inti Paris and finished the 2021 Tour de France.

Tadej won the prestigious yellow jersey by over five minutes and also captured the white jersey for the best young rider and the polka dot jersey for the king of the mountains.

Even more impressive was that he has now done this two years in a row. Pogacar has won all three jerseys for two straight TDFs and doesn’t appear to be in danger of missing out on a third consecutive triumph in 2022.

For the 2021 season so far, Pogacar has won five races along with three stages in the Tour de France. He’s clearly the betting favorite for Olympics road race and rightfully so. This will be his first appearance in the Olympics.

Can he become the first man to ever win the Olympics gold medal and the Tour de France in the same season?

Primoz Roglic (SLO) (+700)

This will be Roglic’s second appearance in the Olympics. He finished 26th in the 2016 Games.

Primoz is coming off a very disappointing TDF appearance where he was one of the pre-race favorites and really the only man who had a legitimate chance against Pogacar.

The two finished first and second last year and were projected to do the same this year. The only question was which rider would be on the higher step.

Unfortunately, Roglic crashed out of the TDF and has been resting up for the Olympics for the last few weeks.

Primoz was all-in on the TDF having taken off two months of racing to train for the biggest race of the year.

Prior to heading to training camp, he won the points classification at Paris-Nice, won the Tour of Basque Country, and finished 2nd at the Amstel Gold Race. He was on good form at the start of the TDF also, but the crash ended up taking him out after the first week.

Now, Roglic heads into Tokyo tied with his Team Jumbo Visma teammate Wout Van Aert as the second betting favorite behind Pogacar.

I’m a big fan of both Roglic and WVA, but I do have my concerns regarding Roglic and if he’s fully healed of his injuries from the hard TDF crash.

On a side note, Pogacar really did something classy at the beginning of the final stage of the Tour de France when he joined two other fellow Slovenians at the front of the peloton and they held up Roglic’s jersey number. That’s true class!

Wout Van Aert (BEL) (+700)

This will be Wout Van Aert’s first appearance in the Olympics. He will compete in both the road race and the Individual Time Trial.

Outside of Pogacar and Mark Cavendish, Wout Van Aert was the biggest story of the 2021 Tour de France. What he accomplished was something for the record books.

For the first time ever, the Tour decided to have riders go up Mont Ventoux twice on Stage 11 which WVA ended up winning. That alone would be enough to cement his success at the Tour, yet he wasn’t done there.

WVA would win the final time trial on Stage 20 and then take the final stage of the Tour as he outsprinted Cavendish and others to win on the Champs-Elysees and Paris.

Van Aert won a mountain stage, time trial stage and a sprint stage which is unheard of in the Tour de France. His talents are off the charts.

Prior to the Tour, WVA had an emergency appendectomy which hindered his form in the first week of the Grand Tour. But, he overcame that and went on to show why he’s a superstar in the sport of cycling.

Additionally, he had already won the Belgium road race, Amstel Gold Race, Gent-Wevelgem, the green jersey in the Tirreno-Adriatico and two stages. Furthermore, Van Aert had four other Top 6 finishes with two additional podium results.

I believe WVA will come away with at least one gold medal in the Tokyo Games. The only question is whether it’s in the road race or the time trial.

Remco Evenepoel (BEL) (+900)

When we last saw the 21 year old Belgian, he had just finished 3rd in the Belgium road race and 2nd in the time trial. Van Aert won the road race and Yvest Lampaert beat out Remco by 20 seconds in the time trial.

Like his fellow countryman, WVA, Evenepoel will also compete in both the road race and the ITT.

Remco’s 2021 season began in the Giro d’Italia, but it didn’t go well as he was forced to pull out of the race before the start of Stage 18. It was his first race since August 2020 after suffering from a crash.

Evenepoel is certainly a talented cyclist with plenty of potential and a bright future. Yet, even Remco recognizes what Wout did in the Tour de France and acknowledges that if Van Aert is on good form that he would ride for him in the final kilometers:

“I even think that Wout has an edge, as I saw him driving up the Mont Ventoux. He’s perfectly fine. If we go to the finish with a select leading group in the road race and there are still two of us there, I will definitely put on the sprint for Wout. But until the foot of that last climb we will each ride our own course. I have also worked hard. Our national coach will have his reasons for betting on two leaders.”

Alejandro Valverde (ESP) (+1600)

Despite being 41 years old, Alejandro Valverde is still going strong. He just completed the Tour de France and was in the Top 25 for the GC with a 2nd on Stage 15 as his biggest highlight.

On the season, Valverde finished in the Top 5 at the Volta a Catalunya, Amstel gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Those are solid performances in both stage and one-day classics.

Even more impressive than his current season so far, is that Valverde will be competing in his 5th Olympic Games.

He first debuted in the Olympics in 2004 where he finished 47th in the road race. He followed that up with an 8th in 2008, 18th in 2012, and 30th in 2016.

Valverde will be the leader for Team Spain as he’s winding up his Hall of Fame career.

Although he’s had a solid year so far, I don’t expect Valverde to outclimb, outdescend, and outsprint other stars like Pogacar, Roglic and Wout Van Aert.

“Old Man” Valverde will be lucky to crack the Top 20 for the Tokyo Olympics road race.

Best Tokyo Olympics Road Race Betting Value

These cyclists offer the best betting value based on their teams, the 2021 season so far, and their current odds:

Adam Yates (GBR) (+2500)

Other than Belgium and Slovenia, I think Great Britain has the best team with the Yates (Adam and Simon) brothers, Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart.

Unfortunately, they also have the most disappointing team comprised of riders that had miserable appearances in the 2021 Tour de France.

Hart and Thomas were on Team Ineos who didn’t even get a stage win in the Tour despite having the biggest budget of any team. Simon Yates ended up pulling out due to a crash. Only Adam was absent from the Tour as he was focused on the Olympics and the Vuelta a Espana.

Great Britain’s men’s cycling coach Matt Brammeier commented on the team and their desires for Tokyo:

“Definitely. That’s the feedback that I’ve had from Simon, Tao, and Geraint. They all want to take away something more than what they’ve got at the Tour. They’ve put in a lot of sacrifices for this block of racing with the Tour and then Tokyo. It’s almost like the same block of time. They’re going to want to bring something home after this block.”

Both Hart and Thomas will also compete in the ITT after the road race. The Yates brothers will only compete in the road race.

Of the two, Adam Yates is in a better position to succeed in the Olympics road race than his brother Simon. In fact, he’s in a better position to finish higher than the rest of his teammates.

Adam has competed in only five races this year. Three of them were stage races where he was 2nd in the UAE Tour, 1st at the Volta a Catalunya, and 4th in the Tour of Basque Country.

He’s a strong climber, good descender, and has Olympic experience as he finished 15th in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) (+2500)

Fuglsang returns to the Olympics for the third time in his career. He was 12th in 2012 and won the silver medal in 2016 for the road race.

Jakob’s season has been a mixed bag. His best result was 3rd in the GC for the Tour de Suisse as he finished behind Carapaz and Uran who will both be in this road race at Tokyo.

Yet, just when he thought things were going well, they seemed to turn sour in the Tour de France as Fuglsang never truly competed for a stage win and was always dropped by the top riders.

The 36 year old Dane commented on this situation:

“In Suisse I was good, so I’m just counting the days because hopefully, I’m good for the Olympics. I just have to be patient and give my best. It’s been frustrating because things looked to be perfect before the race. In Suisse, if you take away the time trials I was up there with Carapaz and Urán so I think without this problem I would be able to have gone for stages in the Tour. That’s just part of the game and I have to wait for everything to go back to normal.”

With the way he looked in the Tour, I don’t see Fuglsang winning this road race in Tokyo. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was competing for a Top 10 spot.

Richard Carapaz (ECU) (+2500)

Speaking of Carapaz, he’s coming off a third place finish at the Tour de France which is where I predicted he would end up prior to the start of the Tour.

Carapaz’s time trials limited his ability to finish second and his climbing was a step below Pogacar all Tour long.

Despite not winning this year’s Tour de France, the 2019 Giro winner is still optimistic of his chances to win the TDF one year:

“I did everything I could to get a good result in the Tour. This is a good result for me. This year there was a different way of racing in the Tour, with more sporting aggressiveness. There are very few riders in the world who can win the Tour. I didn’t make it this year, but I’m sure I’ll do it one day.”

As mentioned, Carapaz won the Tour de Suisse and went into the TDF on good form. It was the best result of his season so far. He’s also expected to compete in the Vuelta a Espana where I can see Carapaz contending for the podium once again.

This is his first Olympics appearance and he’s one of just two members for Ecuador. However, he has plenty of friends in the peloton to ride alongside especially the Great Britain squad where three of them are his teammates on Team Ineos.

Don’t count out Carapaz in the conversation for a silver or bronze medal. He might not be able to outclimb the elite or outsprint the fastest, but he is a great overall cyclist.

Top Longshots for Tokyo Olympics Road Race

These riders offer the best opportunities for a longshot to win based on their experience and current Olympics betting odds:

Rigoberto Uran (COL) (+8000)

Uran will be a member of Team Colombia who is loaded. In fact, they’re easily a Top 5 team for this race. Along with Uran, they also have Nairo Quintana, Sergio Higuita, Esteban Chaves and Daniel Felipe Martinez.

All five of those riders have the potential to win the road race. Yet, of the five, you have to pick Uran. He will be extra motivated after fading in the final week of the Tour de France and falling short of the podium.

Uran ended up 10th overall, which was his second best result on the season outside of finishing runner up to Carapaz in the Tour de Suisse.

For Uran, this will be his 4th appearance in the Olympics. He didn’t finish the road races in 2008 and 2016, but did win the silver medal in 2012.

Uran has the ability to hang with the top climbers and is a worthy consideration for a long shot wager.

Tom Dumoulin (NED) (+8000)

Earlier this year, Tom Dumoulin announced that he was taking an indefinite leave from cycling. The former Giro winner and TDF runner up has been suffering from illness and injuries over the last few years and decided he needed an extended break.

Dumoulin was replaced by Jonas Vingegaard who ended up runner up to Pogacar after Roglic crashed out of the Tour. It’s hard to believe that Denmark couldn’t convince Jonas to compete for them in the road race. But, I digress.

Dumoulin returned to racing in June when he competed in the Tour de Suisse. He finished 5th in the ITT which was a good sign that his health and form are returning.

Tom followed that up by winning the Netherlands individual time trial on June 16th. He finished 27 seconds faster than the next rider.

For Dumoulin, this will be his second appearance in the Olympics. He didn’t finish the 2016 road race in Rio de Janeiro, but did win the silver medal in the individual time trial.

Dumoulin commented on his current form and his Olympic aspirations:

 “I am very pleased with the progress I have made since I started my training in May. At the moment I would be jumping for joy with bronze. I’d cherish that perhaps even more than silver in Rio. Gold is fantastic and of course I strive for that, but that will be very difficult.”

Geraint Thomas (GBR) (+10000)

Although it wasn’t his worst performance in the Tour de France over his career, this year’s TDF was certainly Thomas’ toughest:

“To be honest this has definitely been the hardest Tour de France I’ve done, mentally, as much as physically. Obviously, the race has been different this year, less controlled, and with crazy attacks and this and that. But mentally for it all to fall apart on stage 8 and then to keep going, up and down, it’s been tough.”

In the first week of the Grand Tour, Thomas suffered a nasty crash that led to a dislocated shoulder. Medics were able to pop the shoulder back into place and not only did Thomas finish the race, he went on to finish the entire TDF.

It was an impressive performance by the 2018 Tour de France winner as he showed his toughness and continued to sacrifice himself for Carapaz’s chances to land on the podium, which he did.

It should be noted that Thomas, not Carapaz, was considered the leader of Team Ineos by pundits and fans. He certainly had the 2021 season to back it up.

Thomas was 3rd in the Volta a Catalunya, won the Tour de Romandie, and finished 3rd in the Criterium du Dauphine. His teammates Yates and Porte finished first and second at Catalunya while his teammate Porte won at Dauphine.

This will be Geraint’s 2nd appearance in the Olympics and he will compete in both the road race and the ITT. Thomas finished 9th in the 2016 ITT and 11th in the road race that year.

I think Thomas is the best longshot for the Tokyo road race. He has the talent, but the only question is in regards to his recover from the crash in the TDF.

Who Wins the Gold Medal?

My Top 5 riders for the Tokyo road race are Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Wout Van Aert, Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz.

The three medals up for grabs will come from a combination of these five cyclists.

With the way they rode in the Tour de France, I believe that Pogacar and WVA are definitely medaling. The third spot will go to either Yates, Roglic or Carapaz.

Of these three, a healthy Roglic is the best. He’s slightly better on the climbs and on the descent. Unfortunately, his health is a concern for me.

Roglic is one of my favorite riders in the sport today. I root for him every race he’s in along with other riders like WVA, Cavendish, Froome and Sagan to name a few.

Unfortunately, when it comes to placing money, I can’t bet on Roglic due to his injuries and DNF in the Tour.

Of Yates and Carapaz, I am leaning towards Yates since he’s the fresher of the two and Carapaz had a grueling three weeks in France trying to keep up with Pogacar. So, I am picking Adam Yates, Wout Van Aert and Tadej Pogacar to medal in the Tokyo Olympics road race.

I see Yates getting the bronze while WVA and Pogacar battle for the gold. Of the two, I am 51% sure Pogacar will beat out WVA.

Tadej looked amazing in this year’s Tour de France. In fact, he didn’t even look like he was pushed to the limits. I loved what WVA did in the Tour and truly enjoy watching him compete in every race he enters. He’s a big reason why I spend so much money on cycling subscriptions each year.

With that said, I am going with Pogacar’s odds at Bovada to win the gold medal in the road race. Tadej looks in great form, conquered France, and I can see him making history by conquering Japan this weekend. Look for WVA to win gold in the ITT.

Olympics Bet: Tadej Pogacar to Win the Gold Medal (+400)

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