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How to choose your track bike

Track is a special discipline in that track events are only run in velodromes. There are more than a hundred in France, some of which are covered.

This discipline is an old one, since it was already present at the Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 and at the World Championships in Cologne in 1895.

The sport is practiced on tracks made of concrete, macadam or timber and the total length of the track, wich resembles a ring (with two parallel straights and curves at the extremities), varies according to the velodrome (200m, 250m, 333m) .

On these trails, cyclists can reach high speeds up to 75 km/h.

The track bike, a specific bike

To ride on track, a road bike is impractical whereas a track bike has been perfected for that purpose.

This bike that must be light and rigid is usually made in carbon (frame and wheels) and displays several peculiarities:

  • It doesn't have a freewheel or derailleur, but a fixed pinion that requires the cyclist to pedal continuously to avoid an abrupt stop and the ensuing fall.
  • It has no brakes.
  • The bike's minimum weight is set at 6.8 kg by the Union Cycliste Internationale.

The frame's stiffness is crucial to cushion the shocks associated with accelerations. One-piece track bikes exist for this very reason, thus avoiding welds to ensure greater rigidity and solidity.

The wheels can be spoked, with bars, or lenticular (full) for better aerodynamics.

Track: several practices for one discipline

Individual speed

After qualifying events, speed matches oppose between 2 to 3 riders over about 750 metres (2 to 3 laps), with the winners qualifying for the next phase. Starting from the quarter-finals, the riders are decided bnetween two winning races. In this very popular race, the riders are observing each other, practically treading water sometimes, before attacking.

Team speed

The men's event takes place in teams of 3 riders in 3 laps. The first rider makes the first lap and moves away, leaving the second rider in the second lap, who then leaves the third and final to the third rider, at the end of which the timer is stopped. The women's event takes place in 2 laps with teams made of 2 competitors.

The kilometre and 500 metres

Time trial events of 1,000 meters for men and 500 meters for women.

The Keirin

This 2,000 meter race is considered the most combative and physical. The pace of the 6-8 riders is regulated by a motorcycle trainer who will accelerate progressively during the first 1400 meters (from 35 to 45 km/h) before deviating at 600 metres from the finish line. In the last 600 meters, the race becomes a classical speed race.

The individual pursuit

3,000m for women and 4,000m for men. The principle: two runners face each other on each side of the ring, in the middle of each of the two straight lines. The goal for each rider is to catch up with the other. If one of the two reaches it before the end of the distance, the reached rider is eliminated. If neither of them succeeds in catching up with the other, the winner is the one who has completed the distance in the shortest time. He can then compete in the next round with another opponent, and so on until the final.

The team pursuit

For men only. It's run in teams of 4 riders over 4,000-metre distance and unfolds like the individual pursuit, with the runners of each team alternating every turn or half turn.

The points race

20 to 30 riders will travel a maximum distance of 30 km. Every 2 km, the first four will be awarded points. Points will thus be awarded to each intermediate sprint, each winning round and the final sprint. The final ranking will be based on the number of points awarded during the race to each competitor.

The Madison

For a maximum distance of 50 km, this race is run by teams of 2 men taking turns to try to be a lap ahead of the other teams. Points are awarded to the first 4 teams every 5 km. The final classification is based first on the distance (teams being several turns ahead) and then on awarded points.

The scratch race

Maximum distance of 10 km for women and 15 km for men. The riders leave in groups and the classification is made on the finish line.

The omnium

Individual race which takes place over several rounds of different events.

Motor-packed racing

For one hour of racing or on 50 km, the race takes place behind a motorcycle.

Six-day racing

For six days with set rest periods, teams of 2 riders will compete in different events. These 6 days require a lot of endurance, as both riders of each team will ride all this time.

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