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Cycling track

Groupe de cyclistes en course sur piste.

The first bicycles were invented in the 1850s, particularly in France, and looked quite different to the bikes we know today. But it wasn’t until the 1870s that England developed competitions for cycling on wooden indoor tracks, with the first six‑day race taking place in London in 1878. Track cycling quickly grew in popularity and continued to develop with the creation of the International Cycling Association. This enabled the organisation of the first World Championships in Chicago in 1893.

Brief overview of the rules

Track cycling takes place in a velodrome, a 250m bowl-shaped arena, with events in different race formats for individuals and teams. Cyclists race around the track with impressive ease. Track bicycles differ from road bicycles in that they are fixed-gear and do not have brakes.

Several types of race take place on track, each with their own specific rules and techniques. Some rely more heavily on tactics, whereas others favour strength and power; therefore the effort required to complete a lap in the individual sprint is quite different than that required in the 25km group omnium race.

Olympic history

A long-standing Olympic discipline, track cycling appeared at the very first Games of the modern era and was only briefly absent, not featuring at the 1912 Games in Stockholm. Nevertheless, women had to wait until the Olympic Games at Seoul in 1988 to join the programme.

Throughout the sport’s over 120‑year history, European countries – particularly the UK, France, the Netherlands and Italy – have taken the lion’s share of the medals. But other countries are gaining strength and improving at every Games; such as Australia, which took 10 medals including six golds at the World Championships in 2019.

Events in 2024

  • Team Sprint (women’s / men’s)
  • Sprint (women’s / men’s)
  • Keirin (women’s / men’s)
  • Team Pursuit (women’s / men’s)
  • Omnium (women’s / men’s)
  • Madison (women’s / men’s)

Venue in 2024

National Velodrome

International organisation

International federation : Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)

https://www.uci.org/

© Phil Walter/Getty Images