Sprint events

200m match sprint

This race dates back to the 1895 world championship in Cologne in 1895. Riders times are measured from a line that is 200m before the finish. This is why the race is sometimes called the 200m Sprint. Riders usually ride a qualifying heat to determine which riders will be matched against one another in the match sprint rounds. The times that are set in the qualifying rounds are of crucial importance. Usually the fastest rider competes against the rider that set the slowest qualifying time. In most international competitions the two riders that are matched against one another will ride the best out of three heats before continuing to the next round. Races are contested over a distance of one kilometer.

Tactics play a key role in the match sprint, and sometimes in the early part of the race both riders come to a complete standstill This is known as the ‘track stand’. The reason for this is that the front rider is trying to force the rear rider to move to the front. It is generally a disadvantage to have the lead going into the final 200 meters, since the high speeds attained by track racers make the slipstream advantage a significant factor. The match sprint is the show case of most track cycling meetings.

1500m bunch race

This bunch race often provides excitement. The bunch rolls over the start line and the racing starts as the start pistol is fired. Sprinters and endurance riders fancy their chances in this one. The endurance riders will often try to break away early to upset the sprinters. The rider that crosses the line first after 1500m of racing wins. This race is not an Olympic or World Champioship event, but is traditionally the Blue ribbon event of South African track cycling.

Time trial

1000 metres men
This is one of the toughest track disciplines. Riders accelerate as quickly as possible from a standing start. Once maximum speed is attained the fight to maintain it lasts until the finish line. The times are taken to determine the winner of the competition. This event is a pure test of power.

500 metres women
As above, but only 500m

Olympic sprint (Team sprint)

The Olympic sprint is also so known as the team sprint. This is a three-man time trial held over three laps of a velodrome for men. Two teams race against one another starting on opposite sides of the track. At the end of the first lap, the leading rider in each team pulls up the banking leaving the second rider to lead for the next lap. At the end of the second lap, the second rider does the same, leaving the third rider to complete the last lap on his own. This race favors a team with three strong sprinters since it is important to get up to speed quickly and to finish strong. Women ride in teams of two and the event is held over two laps.


This race originated in Japan, where it is the predominant form of cycle racing. The people there bet on the outcome of the events and there is so much money in the sport in Japan that many of their top Keirin riders do not go to the world championships. The only Japanese rider to win the Keirin at the World championships is Harumi Honda in 1987 at Vienna.

There are a few differences between the Japanese Keirin and the international discipline. Tracks there are banked less steeply than in most other places and an all-weather asphalt surface allows Keirin racing in the rain. The goal of Japanese Keirin racers is to win as much money as they can all the time. Riders would need to peak very high to be successful at the World championship level and would have to recover afterwards. This would harm the potential of earning winnings and does not make sense from a professional Keirin racing point of view.

A motorcycle paces the field of eight, leading them faster and faster around the track while the riders jockey for position behind it. Three laps before the end of the race the motorcycle peels off and the riders are free to sprint for the finish line.

Leave a Reply