Types of Cycling Events

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As Canada's home to track cycling, Mattamy National Cycling Centre is host to many types of cycling events. Below are definitions of some popular events you may see here at the velodrome. Each one has a different and unique strategy!


In a sprint, the qualifying rounds consist of competitors covering 1,000 metres. Only the final 200 metres are timed. The fastest qualifier will then sprint against the slowest qualifier, second fastest against second slowest, etc.At the beginning of the race, riders pedal slowly, carefully watching one another, waiting for an opening to pass. The race demands more tactical skill than any other cycling event. Competitors progress through a series of heats, consisting of one to three rounds, leading to a final head-to-head confrontation between the top two riders for first place.


The Keirin is based on the famous Keirin cycle racing (one of the biggest betting sports in Japan). Competed over eight laps, three to seven riders follow a Derny motor bike (a motorized bicycle) at an increasing pace until two and a half laps remain. The riders jostle for position behind the motor bike to gain the desired position, depending on where their biggest rivals are.As the motor bike pulls off the track, the battle begins to win the sprint. The stronger riders will launch their effort early, while others will follow well into the last lap, hoping that they are in the best position to propel themselves ahead to the finish line at the last possible moment. The riders will race at speeds around 70 km/h.


 Dubbed "killermetre," each cyclist races alone against the clock from a standing start. The rider with the fastest time wins.

500 Metres

The 500 metres is the women's equivalent to the men's kilometre. Each cyclist races alone against the clock from a standing start and the rider with the fastest time wins.

Individual Pursuit

Two riders begin pedaling from a standing start on opposite sides of the track, "pursuing" one another until the distance is completed: 4 km for elite men; 3 km for elite women and junior men; and 2 km for junior women. The four fastest cyclists in the qualifying round will move onto the finals. The first two fastest times will race against each other for first and second place, then the third and fourth fastest cyclists will race for third place. If one rider overtakes another in the finals, then the race is stopped and the winner is declared.

Team Pursuit

The rules in team pursuit are the same as in individual pursuit, except that teams of four riders for men and three riders for women, compete against one another. The time of each team's second-to-last rider is used to determine placing. This event calls for precision teamwork. Each rider takes a turn in the lead before swinging up to the top of the banked track and dropping down to the end of the team for a brief rest.

Points Race

The points race is competed over a distance of 25 km for women and 40 km for men.

With sprints every 10 laps, the pace of the race varies as each sprint approaches. Racers must have the flexibility to adapt to the increases in speed and a change of tactic as the race develops. With 5, 3, 2 and 1 point(s) awarded to the first four riders in each sprint, the last two laps before each sprint are highly animated as each rider tries to find the best position to make his or her best effort.

Despite the points awarded in the sprints, a rider can win 20 points if he manages to lap the field. Riders will attack individually or in small groups to try to gain these additional points. The final result is decided by total points gained.


This race is competed by teams of two riders showing bike handling skills at their best. One rider has to be in the race at all times. The other team member takes a short rest circling at the top of the track before he rejoins the race by his teammate throwing him into the action with a hand sling. As with the points race, there are sprints, in this case every 20 laps, and the teams will also be trying to gain a lap on their opponents. The final is over a distance of 50 km.

The skills of the riders are vitally important as they reach speeds well over 50 km/h with riders throwing their partners into the race at key times, aiming to win the sprint points or gain a decisive lap on their competitors.

Scratch Race

This is the simplest race in the championships. It's a bunched race event over a distance of 10 km for women and 15 km for men. The first across the finish line wins first place. The action is non-stop with riders trying to break away from the main field and their adversaries organizing the chase behind. There's no room for hesitation in this high speed cat and mouse race.

Olympic Sprint

Teams are comprised of three riders for men and two riders for women. Each teammate must lead the team on one lap before dropping out of the race. The winning team is the one who completes the distance fastest.


The men's Omnium is the pentathlon of track cycling. Each competitor must ride in five events - 200 m flying time trial; 7.5 km scratch race; 3 km individual pursuit; 15 km points race; and 1 km time trial. In this competition, points are awarded in reverse order. The winning rider of each event gets one point and the rider with the lowest number of points overall is the winner. If there is a tie on points, the judges look back at the timed events to determine who wins. Racers must be good at sprinting, time-trialing and bunched racing in this tough race series.The women's Omnium uses the same rules as the men's Omnium with different distances, except for the 200 m flying time trial - a 5 km scratch race; a 2 km individual pursuit; a 10 km points race; and a 500 m time trial.

Olympic Track Cycling Events

The track events competed at the Olympic Games are:
  • Individual Pursuit Men and Women
  • Sprint individual Men and Women
  • Points Race Men and Women
  • Keirin Men
  • Madison Men
  • Olympic Sprint Men
  • Team Pursuit Men
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