UCI World Cup

Cycling Victoria
2-4 December 2010
Back:  event guide

What is Track Cycling?

Sprint: (men & women)

The sprint is one of the oldest cycling events making its first appearance at World Championships in Chicago in 1893.

It is a classic short distance event in which two or more riders cover three laps. Only the final 200 metres is timed. The special requirements in the sprint are strength and speed. The key is tactics. Sudden and dramatic changes in speed, standstill attempts, and feints are typical ways to surprise an opponent. Riders obtain a seeding through the qualifying 200 metre flying time trial and from then on race head to head. From quarter finals stage onwards the riders contest best of three races.

Individual Time Trials: (men 1km / women 500m)

Time trials are a race against the clock with no room for error. The difference between gold and silver can be as little as a thousandth of a second.

The bike is locked into a special starting gate and the rider must time their first pedal stroke to match the gate release. From the standing start they must quickly gain maximum speed and maintain it for the distance. In the event of a false start the rider is permitted another start. Only two starts are allowed.

Keirin: (men & women)

Keirin was created in the 1940’s and is the Japanese version of the traditional sprint event. Up to seven riders compete over 2000m (8 laps).  A special motorised bike called a derny leads the field for the first 5½ laps starting at 30km/h and bringing the riders up to a speed of  50km/h (25km/h to 45km/h for women). Cyclists manoeuvre for the best position before the derny leaves the track. Then the battle of strength, speed and courage begins.

Team Sprint: (men & women)

The team sprint pits two teams of three riders (two riders for women) against each other and the clock over three laps (two laps for women) of the track. The task of the starting rider is to get out of the gate cleanly and bring the team up to high speed as quickly as possible. After one lap the first rider peels off to allow the next rider to make the pace.

The leading rider must not swing up until a full lap is complete and must peel off between an area of 15 metres before and after their start line, otherwise the team will be disqualified.

In the event of a false start the team is permitted another start. Only two starts are allowed.

Individual Pursuit: (men 4km / women 3km)

The individual pursuit is an endurance event and is conducted as a knock out tournament. The goal is to ride the fastest time over the distance. The riders are seeded based on their times in the qualifying round. In qualifying all riders complete the distance to post a time but in the finals if a competitor overtakes his rival he is declared winner. The fastest two cyclists in the first round qualify for the gold medal race and the next two fastest contest the bronze medal final.

A cool head is needed in a pursuit as coaches and cyclists must determine how fast to ride to make it through to the next round and still have fuel in the tank for the medal race. Body position is also important, as an aerodynamic position will limit the amount of air resistance that in turn increases the cyclist’s speed.

In the event of a false start from the gate a rider is permitted another start. Only two starts are allowed.

Points Race: (men 30km / women 20km)

This is an event where the final placings are determined according to accumulated points won by riders during sprints or by taking laps on their opponents. Points (5,3,2,1) are awarded to the first four across the line in the intermediate sprints held every ten laps and at the finish.  20 points are given to a rider who laps the main field and any rider who drops a lap on the main field loses 20 points.

At the end of the race if two or more riders are equal on points the places in the final sprint determine who wins.

The Points Race is a numerical challenge for riders who must know where they are placed throughout the race to enable them to develop tactics to win. Speed, endurance, concentration and the ability to react quickly are the hallmarks of a successful points’ racer.

(Note: qualifying races are over shorter distances)

Madison: 40km (men)

The Madison, or ‘Américaine’, is derived from six-day-races which began in 1899 in New York’s Madison Square Gardens. Teams comprising two riders work together to amass sprint points or try to take a lap. Sprints are held every twenty laps with points awarded for sprints are 1st – 5pts, 2nd – 3pts, 3rd – 2pts and 4th – 1pt sprints.

Only one member of the team is racing at any one time while his team-mate rides around the top of the track banking until it is his time to race. The race is conducted as a ‘tag team’ format where the racing rider must touch his incoming team-mate to effect the changeover. This is usually done by way of a ‘hand sling’ where the racing cyclist grabs his team-mate’s hand and slings him into the race.

The team that covers the most laps is the winner. If more than one team has ridden the same number of laps they are placed according to points won. If there is a draw on laps and points the order across the line in the final sprint decides the placings

(Note: qualifying races are over shorter distances)

Team Pursuit: (men 4km / women 3km)

The Team Pursuit is a real test of technique and teamwork. Four endurance cyclists (3 for women) comprise a pursuit team and their success relies on how well they work together. The rider on the front must keep the pace as high as possible but must not ride so fast that he drops any of his following team mates. The cyclists within a team must ride as close as possible to the rear wheel of the rider in front of them to gain every possible aerodynamic benefit. The front rider will swing up the track at the end of his “turn” and must smoothly rejoin his team. The pace is then set by the rider now on the front.

The time is taken on the front wheel of the third rider across the line. In the mens event it is often the case that one team member will not complete the distance. Sometimes this is due to an extraordinary effort put in before dropping out or because a rider has been unable to maintain the pace of his team mates.

In the qualifying round each team shall ride alone on the track against the clock.  The teams with the two best times ride off in the final for first and second places; the next two fastest teams ride off in the final for third and fourth places.

In the finals, one team starts on each side of the track and they race each other and the clock.  The winner is determined by either catching the other team or recording the fastest time.

In the event of a false start the team is permitted another start. Only two starts are allowed.

Scratch Race: (men 15km / women 10km)

Scratch racing was introduced to the World Championships and World Cups in 2002.  The Scratch Race is one of the most exciting events, it begins with a massed start of competitors who race the assigned distance with the placings determined during the final sprint, taking into account laps gained.

Tactics are important in this event with endurance riders keeping the pace fast and furious in an effort to eliminate the sprint specialists who in turn will try and shelter within the group to conserve their strength for the final laps.  The final 10 laps are where courage, skills, positioning and tenacity of the competitors comes to the fore as the fast sprinting field surges to the finish.

(Note: qualifying races are over shorter distances)


The omnium is made up of 6 events and is disputed over 2 consecutive days. The final classification is established by adding up the finishing places in each event. The winner is the rider 
who has the lowest total.

Men Women
• Flying lap
• Points race (30 km)
• Elimination race
• Individual pursuit (4 km)
• Scratch race
• Kilometre time trial
• Flying lap
• Points race (20 km)
• Elimination race
• Individual pursuit (3 km)
• Scratch race
• 500 m time trial
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