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Road cycling

Cyclistes en train de rouler en peloton.

Cycling is composed of a variety of disciplines, reflecting both its age-old past and its modern outlook, road cycling being the earliest form of the sport. During the 19th century, cycling enjoyed a surge in popularity, becoming a leisure pastime with the invention of the bicycle. The first races were organised a few years later, with records dating back to 1868 in the Parc de Saint Cloud in Paris. Shortly after, national federations started to be established and an international federation, known as the Union Cycliste Internationale, was set up in 1900 to oversee the organisation of the various disciplines.

Brief overview of the rules

Road cycling takes place outside and is divided into two kinds of event at the Olympic Games – the road race and the individual time trial.

The road race, in which all riders set off at the same time in a mass start, is highly a tactical feat of endurance. Often, the race (over 120km for the women, and over 200km for the men) is won in a sprint finish over a few hundred metres, which means riders need to position themselves perfectly and conserve their energy in the first part of the race.

The time trial is a solo effort in which the riders set off at staggered times rather than in a grouped peloton. They cover a much shorter distance than in the road race, as the time trial rarely exceeds 50km. It is a discipline that requires consistency and concentration as well as preservation through effective aerodynamic positioning and power.

Olympic history

Road cycling is one of the longest standing Olympic events, as it featured in the sporting programme at the first modern Olympiad in 1896 in Athens. Left out of three editions between 1900 and 1908, road cycling has only ever missed one other Games. Women’s cycling was added in 1984 and the time trial was first introduced in 1996.

Until this date, professional riders were not allowed to take part in the Olympic Games. However, since Atlanta, members of the professional cycling world have been welcome, bringing with them additional prestige to Olympic events, which are now disputed by the world’s greatest cyclists.

Events in 2024

  • Road Race (women’s / men’s)
  • Individual time trial (women’s / men’s)

Venue in 2024

Pont d’Iéna

International organisation

International federation : Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)

https://www.uci.org/

©Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images