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Guide to track cycling

Track cycling - endurance events


In this event two riders start from opposite sides of the track.

The objective is to catch your opponent.

If that does not happen then the one covering the distance in the fastest time is the winner.

The race takes place over 4,000m for men (that is 16 laps of the track) and 3,000m for women (12 laps).

An explosive start is less important than the ability to ride at a consistently high speed.

Many riders who go out too hard in the first half of the race can look to be well up on their opponents.

But they will invariably fade in the last 1,000m.

So to win in the pursuit you need to be able to pace yourself and keep a cool head under pressure.

The pursuit has typically been a cross-over event for road racers.

Good pursuiters make good road riders and vice versa.


Two four-man teams start on opposite sides of the track and race over 4000m.

The object of the race is to attempt to catch your opponents or complete the ride in the fastest time.

Each rider takes it in turn to lead for half a lap, although stronger riders sometimes do full laps.

The finishing times are taken as the third rider crosses the line so a team can afford to lose one rider during the race.

This is a distinct possibility considering the teams can reach speeds close to 60km/h!

The members of a pursuit team must be able to ride with excellent team skills.

With the best team formations there is only a few centimetres between the wheels.

So a high-speed pile-up is only ever a few centimetres or a tiny lapse in concentration away!

And if that wasn't enough, huge stamina levels and a smooth-riding style are also very important.


This is a combination of an endurance and a sprint race.

The race takes place over 40km for men (that is 160 laps of the track), 25km (or 100 laps) for women with a sprint finish for additional points every 10 laps.

For each sprint finish, the first four riders across the line take five, three, two and one points respectively with double points awarded on the last lap.

It is scored similarly to the Madison but instead of teams of two it is a solo event.

However, points are a secondary factor - the main objective is to gain a lap on the rest of the field.

If a rider can lap the field then they win the race.

If more than one rider gains a lap or the whole field finishes on the same lap, then points decide the outcome.

This event tends to be a battle between the sprinters, who try to take a windshield from the other riders, and the strong distance riders will try to gain a lap on the rest of the field.

It makes for very tactical racing with a lot of riders on the track at the same time.


This race takes its name from the famous Madison Square Garden in New York.

It is a version of the points race except that teams of two riders compete over a whopping 50km - 200 laps of the track!

After a mass start where all the riders are on the track, only one rider from each team is allowed in the race at any given time.

One rider races for a lap or more.

Meanwhile, the other circles the top of the track taking a breather before their team-mate brings them back into action with a hand-sling.

Basically this means they grab their team-mate's hand and pass on their momentum, propelling the slower rider along the track.

Changeovers are dangerous but quite impressive to watch if done well.

There are sprints for points every 20 laps but again, the main objective is to gain a lap on your opponents.

If a team can gain a lap on the field, they are in the leading position of the race no matter how many points they have.

But if all the teams are on the same lap at the end of the race, the team with most points is the winner.


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