Race Guides

Take a look at all the events taking place during the World Track Cycling Championships 2016.

SPRINT

Contested over three laps, track sprinting is not just a battle of power and speed but also of wit, intelligence and tactical nous. In the early part of the contest you can expect to see riders slowly circle the track in a game of ‘cat and mouse’, each trying to out-position their rival in order to launch a surprise dash for the line. The race often comes down to the last 50m but you may see some riders choosing to go early – it seemed to work for Sir Chris Hoy!

The competition starts with a qualifying round consisting of a 200m flying start time trial to organise the seeding. From then on, riders will go head to head with the quarterfinals, semi-finals and finals being decided over the best of three rides – it can get quite tense!

World champions (2015)

Men: Gregory Bauge (France) Women: Kristina Vogel (Germany)

Olympic champions (2012)

Men: Jason Kenny (Great Britain) Women: Anna Meares (Australia)

KEIRIN

Often referred to as ‘the one with the motorbike’, the keirin is one of the most recognisable track events. For the opening laps the riders must stay behind the motorbike (actually called the ‘derny’) which paces the riders with increasing speed. Positioning behind the derny is paramount and riders will try to jostle each other out of position to get an advantage over their rivals. With 2.5 laps to go the derny exits the track and the race is on.

Keirin racing originated in Japan where it became popular as one of the few sports on which it was legal to gamble. The name literally translates as ‘fight’ and when you watch you’ll understand why!

The keirin is contested in rounds with heats and a major (medals) and minor (placings) final. Riders who narrowly miss out on qualifying in the first round have a chance to stay in the competition through the repechage.

World champions (2015)

Men: Francois Percis (France) Women: Anna Meares (Australia)

Olympic champions (2012)

Men: Sir Chris Hoy (Great Britain) Women: Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain)

SCRATCH RACE

Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com - 06/12/2014 - Cycling - 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Cup - Day Two - Lee Valley Velopark Velodrome, London, England - Laura Trott of Great Britain beats Kirsten Wild of The Netherlands to win the Women's Omnium Scratch Race.

On the face of it, the scratch sounds simple – riders race on the track for 15km (10km for women) and the first across the line wins. This may sound straightforward but between the massed start and final sprint for the line lie 60 laps where strategy and tactics will play a huge part in the outcome of the race. Within the bunch will be riders whose strengths lie in endurance and riders whose strengths lie in sprinting. The endurance specialists will aim to ‘lap’ the field in order to prevent the powerful sprinters from saving themselves for the end of the race where they will undoubtedly outpace them at the finish. The sprinters will try to save their energy until the very end of the race by sheltering in the bunch until a sprint finish but they must be careful not to let anyone take a lap or a sprint for the line will be futile.

The blend of skills on show and tactics employed make the scratch one of the most exciting races to watch. Expect to see lots of action as riders make attacks and either gain a lap or are chased down by the pack. It’s not enough just to lap the field though – you need to make sure you’ve saved enough energy for the finish too!

World champions (2015)

Men: Lucas Liss (Germany) Women: Kirsten Wild (Netherlands)

POINTS RACE

Aptly named, the aim of the points race is to score as many points as possible with the winning rider the one who has accumulated the most during the race. Points are scored during intermediate sprints which occur every ten laps. The first rider to cross the line at the end of a sprint lap is awarded 5 points with 4, 3 and 1 points being awarded to the next three to cross the line. The big prize comes for gaining a lap on the field, which is worth 20 points – the equivalent of winning four sprints. Similarly, losing a lap will cost you 20 points!

At the world championships the points races will be contested over 40km (160 laps, 16 sprints) for the men and 25km (100 laps, 10 sprints) for the women. Expect to see tactics playing a big part in these races with alliances being formed and attacks being made. Riders need to race intelligently, as well as having stamina and sprinting power, to ensure they bag as many points as possible.

World champions (2015)

Men: Artur Ershov (Russia) Women: Stephanie Pohl (Germany)

MADISON

At 50km (200 laps) long and contested between pairs of riders, the Madison can be exciting and confusing in equal measures. It’s exactly the same in principle as a points race but is raced with pairs of riders who can tag (with a hand sling) each other in and out of the race. The resting rider in the pair will circle the top of the banking but it’s the in-race riders, who’ll be towards the bottom of the track, you should keep your eyes on.

The best Madison teams will have one rider with great endurance, who’s capable of a long push to take a lap and the other a sprinter, who’ll mop up the sprint points or make sudden explosive effort to make a break.

The tactics and the interplay between the riders are fascinating and, like in the points race, watch the scoreboard and listen to the commentary. Focus on the jerseys of the key teams and you’ll be able to follow what’s going on.

World champions (2015)

Men: Bryan Coquard & Morgan Kneisky (France)

INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT

The ultimate head-to-head endurance event, the individual pursuit is the definitive test of staying power. Whilst an explosive start is helpful, the ability to ride at a consistently high speed is important – some riders may appear to be well up on their opponents, only to fade in the last kilometre.

The men’s event is contested over 4km whilst the women pursue each other over 3km. The qualifying rounds will see each rider post a time with the fastest four progressing to the medal finals. In the finals the first rider to complete the distance wins, unless one rider catches the other, at which point the race is won and it’s game over.

World champions (2015)

Men: Stefan Kueng (Switzerland) Women: Rebecca Wiasak (Australia)

TEAM SPRINT

If it’s raw pace that’s your thing then the team sprint is the race for you. Teams of three men or two women race at exhilarating speeds over three or two laps of the track respectively. Each rider completes one lap at the front, sheltering their teammates and enabling them to conserve energy for their turn. Only one rider from the team will complete the race so each rider can hold nothing back on their turn.

Whilst sheer speed is vital, technique is also key in this event as riders must get off the line quickly from a standing start, get rapidly into a tight and efficient formation and race as close together as possible to maximise slipstreaming.

Two teams will race at the same time on the track from opposing sides. All teams will post a time in the qualifying round and from this the medal finals will be determined with the fastest two teams going though to contest gold/silver and the third and fourth fastest going through to race for bronze.

World champions (2015)

Men: France (Gregory Bauge, Michael d’Almeida & Kevin Sireau) Women: China (Jinjie Gong & Tianshi Zhong)

Olympic champions (2012)

Men: Great Britain (Philip Hindes, Sir Chris Hoy & Jason Kenny) Women: Germany (Kristina Vogel & Miriam Welte)

TEAM PURSUIT

The team pursuit is one of track cycling’s most iconic events and the aim is simple: pursue your opponents and catch them if you can. Two teams of four riders take to the track on opposing sides. In closely fought battles teams will appear to maintain identical track positions with only hundredths of a second between them, whereas when one team is dominating you can see them visibly gaining on the other. The winning team is the one that crosses the line first (three riders must finish and the time is taken from the third rider’s front wheel crossing the line). In the finals, if one team catches the other then the race is won there and then.

Stamina is pushed to the limit as the riders maintain top speeds over the gruelling 4km race. Together they must maximise efficiency, taking it in turns to ride at the front. After their turn, the front rider will swing up the track and re-join the line at the back. This must be perfectly timed as riders keep only centimetres apart and any error of judgment can be disastrous!

World champions (2015)

Men: New Zealand (Pieter Bulling, Alex Frame, Regan Gough & Dylan Kennett)

Women: Australia (Ashlee Ankudinoff, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson & Melissa Hoskins)

Olympic champions (2012)

Men: Great Britain (Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh & Geraint Thomas)

Women: Great Britain (Dani King, Joanna Rowsell & Laura Trott)

OMNIUM

The omnium is often described as cycling’s version of the decathlon. Contested over two days and six events, the Omnium is a true test of a rider’s versatility and demands both speed and endurance as well as skill and tactical ability.

The omnium programme at the world championships mirrors that at the Olympic Games and riders will compete in a flying 1 lap time trial, points race, elimination race, individual pursuit (4km for men and 3km for women), scratch race and time trial (1km for men and 500m for women).

The time trial events are real ‘races of truth’, with the strongest riders coming out on top, whereas the bunch races allow tactically astute riders to outwit their opponents and steal back the advantage.

Riders will aim to collect the most points over the six events. The winner of each of the first five events – the scratch race, individual pursuit, elimination race, time trial and flying lap – will be rewarded 40 points with second place receiving 38 points, third place 36 points and so on. The final event will be the points race with riders starting with the points they have accumulated from the first five events. Their total will then increase or decrease depending on their performance in the points race to decide the final positions so prepare for an exciting finish as it will go right to the wire.

World champions (2015)

Men: Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia) Women: Annette Edmondson (Australia)

Olympic champions (2012)

Men: Lasse Norman Hansen (Demark) Women: Laura Trott (Great Britain)

TIME TRIALS

A pure standing start effort against the clock, the time trial is 500 metres for the women and a kilometre (known as the ‘kilo’) for the men.

Either way, this event is known as one of the most punishing of the track disciplines, often favouring sprint athletes towards the endurance end of the spectrum. To perform well at this event, athletes need to have an explosive start as well as good top speed and the endurance to carry them through to the finish despite the pain! Riders also need to be able to judge their effort so they dont’ go out too hard and run out of steam before the finish.

World champions (2015)

Men (1km): Francois Pervis (France) Women (500m): Anastasia Voynova (Russia)