Track Cycling has been around since at least 1870. When cycling was in its infancy, wooden indoor tracks were laid which resemble those of modern velodromes, consisting of two straights and slightly banked turns.
One appeal of indoor track racing was that spectators could be easily controlled, and hence an entrance fee could be charged, making track racing a lucrative sport.
Early track races attracted crowds of up to 2000 people. Indoor tracks also enabled year-round cycling for the first time. The main early centres for track racing in Britain were Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester (national cycling centre) and London.
The most noticeable changes in over a century of track cycling have concerned the bikes themselves, engineered to be lighter and more aerodynamic to enable ever-faster times.
With the exception of the 1912 Olympics, track cycling has been featured in every modern Olympic Games. Women’s track cycling was first included in the modern Olympics in 1988.
Track Cycling events fit into two broad categories, Sprint races and Endurance races. Riders will typically fall into one category and not compete in the other. Riders with good all round ability in the junior ranks will decide to focus on one area or another before moving up to the senior ranks.
Sprint races are generally between 8 and 10 laps in length and focus on raw sprinting power and race tactics over a small number of laps to defeat opponents. Sprint riders will train specifically to compete in races of this length and will not compete in longer endurance races.
Main Sprint Events
- Team sprint
- Track time trial
Endurance races are held over much longer distances. While these primarily test the riders endurance abilities, the ability to sprint effectively is also required in the Madison, Points Race and Scratch Race. The length of these races varies from 12–16 laps for the Individual and Team Pursuit races, up to 200 laps for a full length Madison race in World Championships or Olympic Games.
Main Endurance Events
- Individual pursuit
- Team pursuit
- Scratch race
- Points race
- Handicap or Hare and Hounds
- Miss and Out, elimination or ‘Devil Take the Hindmost’
If you want to know more click here to go to the British Cycling website on Track Racing.