Velodrom – racing cycling

Velodrome is a sports facility intended for racing cycling on a sloping track, where cyclists reach extremely high speeds.

Racing cycling has developed around the world along with road cycling. The first World Championship in racing cycling was held in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 28 years before the first World Championship in road cycling in 1921. Competitions in racing cycling have been on the agenda of the Olympic Games since the first meeting of its kind in the modern era in 1896 in Athens, Greece.

Modern velodromes consist of two 180-degree inclined branches and two flat sections, which are not always without a slope. The lengths of standard velodromes reach lengths of 150 to 500 meters, with Olympic lengths of at least 250 meters; the length of 333.3 meters is the most popular. Velodromes can be indoor or closed or outdoor. In Slovenia, the only indoor velodrome is in Češča vas near Novo mesto, it was built for the needs of the Junior World Cycling Championships in 1996.

Velodrome discipline:

  1. Sprint (men, women)
  2. Time trial (men 1000 m, women 500 m)
  3. Olympic Sprint (Men)
  4. Keirin (Men)
  5. Chase – Individual (Men 4000 m, Women 3000 m)
  6. Chase – Team (Men 4000 m)
  7. Point race (men 40 km, women 24 km)
  8. Madison (Male)
  9. Tandem Sprint (Men)
  10. Mass start (men, women)
  11. Relegation round (men, women)
  12. Riding behind motorcycle (men)

At the World Cups, World Championships and the Olympic Games, competitors compete in 12 disciplines – 8 men and 4 women. Disciplines are divided into sprint (sprint, time trial, Olympic sprint, keirin) and endurance (individual and team pursuit, point race, madison).

Sprint (men, women) 

In sprint, two to four competitors start at the same time, the race is three laps long, and the competitors compete against each other more than against time. Although their last 200 meters measure their time, the winner is the one who is the first to cross the finish line, regardless of the time. It competes according to the elimination system. Competitors therefore progress from sprint to sprint. In the final, the two best riders compete in three sprints, the one who wins two wins is the overall winner. Sprint is for many the most interesting discipline. There is a lot of tactics and flirting with the opponent. During a race, there may also be a situation where the rider stops completely. Of course, he doesn’t step down, but keeps his balance and forces the opponent to take the lead. Then the rider can ride in the lee behind the opponent. Due to the smaller air resistance, it saves some power, which can be enough for the final victory when it drives out of the wind and tries to overtake the opponent.

Time trial (men 1000 m, women 500 m)

Time trial is also called the race of truth. The race for men is 4 laps (1000 m) long and for women 2 laps (500 m). Cyclists start from standing position from the starting device. The competitor who achieves the best time wins. Due to the extraordinary uniformity of competitors, it is measured to the nearest thousandth of a second.

Olympic Sprint (Men)

This young discipline, a mix of pursuit and sprint, was first introduced at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA. There are two teams competing, each consisting of three competitors. The members of the team are next to each other at the starting line, and immediately after the referee’s shot, they run and line up in a column. After the first round, the first in line withdraws and at this point he has already done his job. After the second lap, the second competitor does the same, but only the third rider leads to the finish. Of course, the faster team wins.

Keirin (Men)

The discipline was developed after World War II in Japan, where it is a national sport. A lot of money is turned over in it, and the contestants are real stars. In races, spectators can bet on riders similar to horse racing. Competitors are sorted by track width, then the first 6 laps they drive behind a motorbike called Derny. The Derny slowly accelerates and raises the pace. Competitors in these rounds change positions and try to provide the best possible starting point for the last two rounds. At the beginning of the penultimate lap, the Derny  is taken off the track and the race really begins. The winner is the one who drives first across the finish line without breaking any of the rules.

Chase – Individual (Men 4000 m, Women 3000 m)

At the same time, the opponents start on their own side of the track, and then chase each other around the velodrome. If one rider catches another, he wins and the race is over, even if they haven’t covered the entire distance yet. Otherwise, the winner is the one who is the first to cover the entire distance.

Chase – Team (Men 4000 m)

In a team pursuit race, two teams compete instead of two riders. Each team consists of four men driving in a column, one after the other. In the lead they changes regularly. The first one goes to the end of the column after each round. When changing in the lead, the rider in a bend drives up the gang and lets his teammates pass, then joins them at the end. Only three competitors have to cross the finish line, as the total time is measured when the third rider crosses the finish line.

Point race (men 40 km, women 24 km)

The point race requires all the skills of top riders: speed, technique, endurance and sometimes at least it seems so, even a degree in mathematics. Riders sprint for points every 8 laps (2 km), the winner gets 5 points, the runner-up 3 points, the third 2 and the fourth 1. In the last sprint, the points are counted double. If one of the competitors overtakes all the others by one lap, he automatically takes the lead, regardless of the number of points. If two or more runners have the same number of laps and points in the end, the winner is the one who won more sprints.

Madison (Male)

This royal discipline is named after the hall Madison Square Gardens in New York City, USA.  The team consists of two riders, one riding and the other resting in the meantime. After the first rider rides one or two laps at full speed, he rides to the outer edge of the track and is replaced by the second rider. During the change, the racing competitor literally shoots his teammate into the race by pulling his hand. This is a key part of the competition as it can decide victory or defeat. A bad pull can cause a loss of speed and thus valuable time. The winning team is determined similarly to the points race. The goal is to gain as much advantage as possible over the other teams and get as many points as possible in the sprints, which are every 20 laps (5 km). The race is 20 to 60 km long.

Tandem Sprint (Men)

 It is similar to a normal sprint, except that two competitors ride a tandem at a distance of 1500 m (6 laps). This is one of the fastest disciplines.

Mass start (men, women)

All competitors (from 24 to 40) start at the same time. They have to cover the same distance, and the one who manages to do it the fastest wins. Tactics and teamwork play an important role. A group of competitors usually takes the lead and tries to increase it, while teammates try to slow down the majority. Leaders can even overtake the main body for one lap and then ride in it again.

Relegation round (men, women)

This is one version of the mass start. After each lap, the last competitor must say goodbye to the race. The group is gradually shrinking, and in the end only two riders are fighting for the braking victory.

Riding behind motorcycle (men)

The discipline is very popular in Europe. In it, the cyclist rides in the wind behind the engine, and is separated by only a few centimeters. Due to the lower air resistance, cyclists reach much higher speeds than in other disciplines.



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