Cycling Track

Facts

Discipline of Cycling
Participants 2564
NOCs 91
Competitions held 161 (Venues)
Distinct events 58
IF Union Cycliste Internationale

Description

Track cycling is one of the main forms of cycling as a sport. It is conducted on a purpose-built oval track, called a velodrome, on highly-specialized track bicycles. When the first cycling races commenced halfway during the 19th century, special cycling tracks were soon used, notably in Great Britain. These had the advantage of not being on the public road, where racing would sometimes be prohibited, and it also concentrated the audience in a single place. The popularity of the races quickly spread to the European continent and across the Atlantic, and velodromes appeared in most major cities.

The first track cycling world championships were held in 1893 in Chicago. The sport also featured at the 1896 Olympic Games and has since been contested at every Olympics, except for 1912 in Stockholm, when the only cycling event was a road race. In the United States, six-day racing became the most popular track cycling format. During the Great Depression, the sport lost a lot of its popularity in Europe, and it declined in the 1930s in the US.

While road racing now is the dominant cycling discipline in media and public attention, track racing remains commonly practiced. Many track cyclists, however, switch to road racing after a track racing career, as more honors (and money) are available to be earned in that discipline. Still, there is an active six-day racing circuit in Europe, where track cyclists can do well financially, and the best Japanese keirin racers can earn millions, as it is a popular betting sport.

Track cycling’s Olympic Program has varied. There are various kinds of track cycling race formats, which are generally divided into two categories: speed and endurance events. The speed events last only a few laps and obviously require raw speed – cyclists may reach speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mi/h). The most common speed events are the sprint, the keirin, the team sprint, the time trial (usually 500 or 1,000 metres), the tandem sprint, and the flying lap.

Several speed events also require tactics, but this is more prevalent in the endurance events. Here cyclists must maintain their speed over a longer period but may need to be able to fight for the victory in the last metres. Notable endurance events are the individual pursuit, the team pursuit, the points race, the Madison, the scratch race, and motor-paced racing. In recent years, an all-around event has been added to international championships, the omnium, which features both speed and endurance events. Six-day races, traditionally an extreme example of an endurance race, now also feature several speed elements.

The women’s Olympic Program in track cycling began in 1988 with the addition of the match sprint. Over the new few Olympiads, the program was expanded with six track events for women in 2000 and 2004. For 2012 both the men’s and women’s track cycling program were changed significantly. The popular individual pursuit race was eliminated, as was the Madison race and points race. In order to equalize the programs for men and women, they now compete in five track disciplines – the sprint, team sprint, team pursuit, keirin, and omnium. The omnium is an all-around type of event, in which all the riders compete in five or six races – a 200 metre flying start time trial, a 15 km scratch race, and elimination race, an individual pursuit, a points race, and a kilometre time trial. Scoring is on a points-for-place basis.

Track cycling is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which was founded on 14 April 1900 in Paris, with five founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. The UCI was established as an alternative to the International Cycling Association (ICA), which had been set up in 1892. In 1965, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) required the UCI to split into an amateur and a professional organization, the Fédération Internationale Amateur de Cyclisme (FIAC) and Fédération Internationale de Cyclisme Professionnel (FICP), respectively. In 1992 the FIAC and FICP rejoined to form the UCI. As of 2020 the UCI had 193 members.

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain GBR 30 23 19 72
France FRA 28 20 17 65
Italy ITA 23 9 6 38
Australia AUS 12 17 17 46
Germany GER 12 11 14 37
United States USA 10 15 12 37
Netherlands NED 8 15 8 31
Soviet Union URS 6 4 6 16
Denmark DEN 5 4 9 18
East Germany GDR 4 5 4 13
West Germany FRG 4 3 3 10
Belgium BEL 3 4 5 12
Spain ESP 3 3 3 9
Russian Federation RUS 2 4 4 10
Czechoslovakia TCH 2 2 1 5
People's Republic of China CHN 1 3 3 7
Canada CAN 1 2 5 8
New Zealand NZL 1 2 4 7
Switzerland SUI 1 2 1 4
Austria AUT 1 0 2 3
Argentina ARG 1 0 0 1
Estonia EST 1 0 0 1
Norway NOR 1 0 0 1
South Africa RSA 0 3 3 6
Greece GRE 0 3 0 3
Japan JPN 0 1 3 4
Poland POL 0 1 2 3
Ukraine UKR 0 1 2 3
Mexico MEX 0 1 1 2
Cuba CUB 0 1 0 1
Uruguay URU 0 1 0 1
Belarus BLR 0 0 1 1
Colombia COL 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong, China HKG 0 0 1 1
Jamaica JAM 0 0 1 1
Malaysia MAS 0 0 1 1

Intercalated Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 3 0 0 3
Great Britain GBR 2 3 0 5
France FRA 0 1 3 4
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Belgium BEL 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Chris Hoy GBR 6 1 0 7
Jason Kenny GBR 6 1 0 7
Bradley Wiggins GBR 4 1 2 7
Marcus Hurley USA 4 0 1 5
Laura Trott GBR 4 0 0 4
Daniel Morelon FRA 3 1 1 5
Florian Rousseau FRA 3 1 0 4
Jens Fiedler GER 3 0 2 5
Ed Clancy GBR 3 0 1 4
Félicia Ballanger FRA 3 0 0 3
Paul Masson FRA 3 0 0 3

Intercalated Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Francesco Verri ITA 3 0 0 3
Johnnie Matthews GBR 1 0 0 1
Billy Pett GBR 1 0 0 1
Arthur Rushen GBR 1 0 0 1
Herbert Crowther GBR 0 2 0 2
Bert Bouffler GBR 0 1 0 1
Bruno Goetze GER 0 1 0 1
Max Goetze GER 0 1 0 1
Maurice Bardonneau FRA 0 1 0 1
Fernand Vast FRA 0 0 2 2

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Sprint Men 28
Keirin Men 5
Team Sprint Men 5
Team Pursuit, 4,000 metres Men 23
Omnium Men 2
Sprint Women 8
Keirin Women 2
Team Sprint Women 2
Team Pursuit Women 2
Omnium Women 2
333⅓ metres Time Trial Men 2
1,000 metres Time Trial Men 18
Tandem Sprint, 2,000 metres Men 14
Individual Pursuit, 4,000 metres Men 12
Team Pursuit, 1,980 yards Men 1
Points Race Men 8
Madison Men 3
¼ mile Men 1
⅓ mile Men 1
½ mile Men 1
1 mile Men 1
1 mile, Motorcycle Men 2
2 miles Men 1
5,000 metres Men 2
5 miles Men 1
10,000 metres Men 1
20 kilometres Men 2
25 kilometres Men 1
25 miles Men 1
50 kilometres Men 2
100 kilometres Men 2
12-Hours Race Men 1
1 mile, Novice Men 1
1/2 mile, Handicap Men 1
1 mile, Handicap Men 1
5 miles, Handicap Men 1
Sprint, Professionals Men 2
Tandem Sprint, Professionals Men 1
Team Sprint, Professionals Men 1
Points Race, Professionals Men 1
1/3 mile, Professionals Men 2
1/2 mile, Professionals Men 1
2/3 mile, Professionals Men 1
1 mile, Professionals Men 3
50 kilometres, Professionals Men 1
100 kilometres, Professionals Men 1
100 miles, Professionals Men 1
24-Hours Race, Professionals Men 1
3,000 metres, Handicap, Professionals Men 1
25 kilometres Motor-paced, Professionals Men 1
National Team Sprint, Professionals Men 1
Australian Team Pursuit, Professionals Men 1
1/2 mile, Handicap, Professionals Men 1
1 mile, Handicap, Professionals Men 2
2 miles, Handicap, Professionals Men 1
500 metres Time Trial Women 2
Individual Pursuit, 3,000 metres Women 5
Points Race Women 4