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An Introduction to Track Cycling

Track cycling can be a confusing discipline for those new to the sport so Steve has written a brief introduction to the different events which will be taking place on the Track at the Commonwealth games in Glasgow this week.

Multi-sport events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games are a popular time for newcomers to many sports. Great Britain’s dominance on the velodrome at these events over recent years has resulted in more coverage than ever for track cycling. But with a wide variety of Track Cycling disciplines being contested in a short amount of time, it can be confusing to keep up with what's going on - especially when you have all the other sports to worry about as well! So here's a rundown of the track cycling events included in the upcoming Commonwealth games.


The Sprint is a head to head contest over three laps and the first person to cross the line at the end of the third lap wins. Often the first 2 laps will be a cat and mouse affair where each rider tries to gain a preferential track position before launching themselves for the last lap. It's often best to be in 2nd place coming into the final lap to benefit from cycling in the opponents slip stream and also so you know exactly where they are!

Team Sprint

The Team Sprint is a three-lap race with a three person team. At the end of each lap, one rider from each team must peel off, leaving one rider from each team to tackle the final lap alone. Unlike in the individual sprint, the competing teams start the race on opposite sides of the velodrome. This means that there aren't any tactical manoeuvres for position, it's a full-on sprint from the gun.

Individual pursuit

The Individual pursuit is a head-to-head race competed over 4km for men and 3km for Women. Each rider begins on the opposite side of the track to the other and attempts to catch up with his opponent cycling away ahead. If they manage it - which isn't common - they win. Otherwise, the rider who completes the distance first is declared the winner. The initial qualification rounds are decided simply by the best times set over the distance.

Team Pursuit

The Team pursuit takes place over 4km and is a male-only event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The teams are made up of four riders and the competition is run in the same format as the individual pursuit with teams' time taken from when the third rider crosses the finish line.

Points Race

The Points race can be quite confusing to watch for new viewers. All of the riders start together and Points are awarded for contesting sprints every 10 laps. The first rider over the line at each interval sprint is awarded 5 points, 3 to the second rider, 2 to the third and 1 point for the fourth rider. The winner is the rider with the most points at the end of the event. In addition to the sprint points, any rider who manages to lap the field is awarded 20 bonus points. Men’s events in Glasgow will take place over 40km and the Women’s event over 25km.

Time Trial

The 1km Time trial is a straight up solo race against the clock over 1km where the winner is determined by the fastest time over 1km from a standing start. There is only a Men’s version of this event In Glasgow 2014.


The Scratch race is a group event where all the contestants start together and the winner is the first person to cross the line after the designated distance. Men’s events are run over 20km and women’s events over 10km


The Keirin is a motor-paced event over 8 laps where the riders are paced behind a motorised bike. The pace bike start at about 25kph and ramps its speed up to about 50kph. The Pacer bike then withdraws after a set amount of time - usually 5 laps - and the riders then sprint to try and be the first over the line and win the round.

Some events use a Repechage round where the losers from the first round are allowed to compete again with a chance of advancing to the next stage of competition to ensure there are the right amount of competitors for the knockout rounds.

Good luck to sponsored rider Jonny Bellis of the Christina Watches-Kuma continental cycling team, who will be riding his Planet X Track T.O.R. in the Scratch and Points Races!

21 July 2014

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