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Sport Overview

Cyclists can reach speeds of more than 80 kilometres per hour on bikes equipped with one gear and no brakes, as they race laps on a 250-metre, steeply banked wooden track. An endurance event, the team pursuit sees two teams start at opposite ends of the track and have 16 laps to catch or outpace the opposition. The sprint discipline consists of a series of three-lap events with individual and team riders racing head to head while jostling for the most advantageous track position. Seven racers sprint in the slipstream of a pace-setting motorcycle in the keirin event, and the omnium event brings together six different race disciplines and distances. All will be contested at the new Cisco Milton Pan/Parapan Am Velodrome.

It’s likely to be a sea of red, yellow and blue in 2015 with Venezuela and Colombia poised to continue their domination of this sport. In the 10 gold medal events at the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games, Colombia won 3 and Venezuela took home five of the gold medals.


History

Track racing dates back to the end of the 19th century. The first World Championships were held in 1895. Track cyclists are powerful athletes, generally with far more muscle bulk than road racers.


How it works

No brakes, fixed gears and banked wooden tracks meet in a test of speed, endurance and teamwork and makes for very exciting racing. Races take place in a velodrome on a 250-metre wooden oval track. Riders wear body-hugging skin suits and aerodynamic helmets to reduce drag.

There are several track cycling disciplines: team pursuit (two teams start at opposite ends of the track and race 16 laps), sprint (a series of three-lap events with individual and team riders racing head to head), Keirin (racers sprint after following a pace motorcycle to start) and omnium (a multiple-race event).

TEN EVENTS DIVIDED INTO THREE FAMILIES:

SPRINT EVENTS

INDIVIDUAL SPRINT (part of the Olympic programme):

Qualification consists of flying-start 200 m-metre time trials. These are followed by knockout heats. The best two riders fight it out in the final. Sometimes riders will come to a standstill in an effort to make their an opponent take the lead, which is the least advantageous position before the final sprint to the finish line.

TEAM SPRINT (part of the Olympic programme):

This speciality is raced by men in teams of three riders over three laps of the track (or by women, in teams of two riders over two laps). Each rider leads for a lap before dropping back. After the heats, the two best teams line up to contest the final. Those who registered the third- and fourth-fastest times meet up in a B final, which decides the last place available on the podium.

KEIRIN (part of the Olympic programme):

Keirin racing originated in Japan. Between three and seven riders compete in a sprint race of 600- to 700 metres, after having
followed in the slipstream of a pacing motorbike for the first 1,400 metres. The motorbike gradually increases the speed from 30 to 50 km/h (for men, 25 to 45 km/h for women).

ENDURANCE EVENTS

TEAM PURSUIT (part of the Olympic programme):

Two teams of four riders start on opposite sides of the track and compete over four kilometres, the same distance for men and women. The winning team is the one that manages to catch its opponents or that records the fastest time.

COMBINED EVENT

OMNIUM (part of the Olympic programme):

The omnium is made up of six events; the competition takes place over two consecutive days.

The events will be held in the following order:

  1. Scratch Race
  2. Individual Pursuit
  3. Elimination
  4. Time Trial
  5. Flying Lap
  6. Points Race

A full result shall be produced for each the first five events. For these five events only, each winner shall be awarded 40 points, each second place shall be awarded 38 points, each third place shall be awarded 36 points, etc.

Riders ranked 21st and below shall each be awarded 1 point.

Prior to the start of the Points Race, a current ranking with the points totals shall be drawn up, and riders will start the Points Race with these points accrued over the first five events. Riders shall add to, and lose points from, their points totals based on laps gained and lost, and points won in sprints, during the Points Race.

The winner of the Omnium shall be the rider who has obtained the highest total of points.


Terminology

Derny
The pacing motorcycle used in Keirin races.

Draft
To follow closely behind another rider to take advantage of their slipstream and expend less energy. When drafting properly, a cyclist can pedal at approximately 70% of the effort required in cycling solo.

Drag
A restraining force against a moving body.

Fixed gear
Pedals and crank set are attached directly to the rear wheel so if the bike is moving, the pedals are moving too. There is no coasting.

Additional Information

Additional Information