Track cycling: what is it, racing, equipment, how to ride and training plans

Track cycling is a bicycle racing sport usually conducted in a velodrome, featuring specialized bikes and various sprint and endurance events, recognized at the Olympic level and governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). It differs from road cycling in that races occur on a banked track, requiring different techniques and strategies, with races often shorter and more intense. Track cycling rules include the requirement to stay on the bike until crossing the finish line to avoid disqualification, the prohibition of changing lanes in sprint races without ensuring safety, and the mandate that riders must wear helmets and follow specific equipment regulations as per UCI guidelines. Track cycling can burn between 800 to 2000 calories per hour, depending on the body weight, intensity, and speed of the activity, as calculated using the Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks (METs) method outlined in The Adult Compendium of Physical Activities.

Track cycling racing encompasses a diverse range of formats, including sprint and endurance events, each requiring unique strategies and intense preparation. Sprint races focus on short, explosive power to outpace competitors in a few laps, while endurance events test the rider’s ability to maintain high speeds over a longer distance. Prestigious events like the Olympic Games, UCI Track Cycling World Championships, and the World Cup highlight the sport’s global appeal, showcasing the skills of the world’s top cyclists. Essential equipment for these competitions includes specialized track bikes known for their fixed gears and absence of brakes, aerodynamic helmets, and specific pedals that enhance performance and safety on the velodrome’s banked track. Among the top brands renowned for their quality and performance in track cycling are Bianchi, Cervélo, Look, Specialized, and Trek, each contributing to the sport’s development through technological advancements and design excellence.

In this article, we will explain what track cycling is, the rules and regulations, safety for track racing, calories burned from tracking cycling, sprint and endurance racing events, world records, tracking cycling equipment and gears, how to ride a track bike, the training plan for track cycling, benefits and risks for track cyclists.

Table of Contents

What is Track cycling?

Track cycling is a type of bicycle racing that takes place on specially built banked tracks or velodromes, featuring track bicycles that are designed specifically for high speeds and efficient aerodynamics without brakes or gears. Distinguished from other forms of cycling by its unique environment and equipment, track cycling demands precise techniques and strategies due to the fixed gear of the bike and the influence of aerodynamics and physics, making it a highly specialized and competitive discipline that showcases cyclists’ power, speed, and tactical acumen.

What is the difference between tracking cycling and other cycling types?

Track cycling differs from other cycling types like road cycling, fixed gear (fixie) cycling, triathlon, and mountain biking primarily in terms of the environment it takes place in (velodromes), the specialized bikes used (which lack brakes and gears), and the specific racing formats (sprints and endurance races on a banked track). Other key differences include the bike’s geometry tailored for optimal aerodynamics and speed in a controlled track setting, contrasting with the diverse requirements of road, triathlon, and mountain biking which necessitate gears and brakes for varying terrain and distances.

Let’s break down these differences in a comparison tableas below. Track cycling’s emphasis on speed and aerodynamics in a highly controlled environment sets it apart from the versatility and adaptability required in road, triathlon, and mountain biking, as well as the urban practicality and simplicity of fixed gear bikes. Each type caters to different preferences, goals, and terrains, making cycling a diverse and inclusive sport. 

AspectTrack CyclingRoad CyclingFixed Gear (Fixie)TriathlonMountain Biking
GearsFixed gearMultiple gearsFixed gearMultiple gearsMultiple gears
BrakesNo brakesBrakes presentBrakes optionalBrakes presentBrakes present
GeometryAerodynamic, minimalVaried, comfort or aerodynamicMinimalist, urbanAerodynamic, efficientRugged, durable
WheelsSlim, aerodynamicVaried, often lighter for climbingDurable, urbanAerodynamic, deep-sectionDurable, wide for traction
PurposeRacing in velodromesLong-distance, racingUrban commuting, leisureTime-trial, multi-sport racesOff-road, trail riding
IntensityHigh, short burstsVariable, often enduranceVariableHigh, especially in bike segmentVariable, technical skill
PopularityNiche, competitiveWidely popularPopular in urban areasGrowing in multi-sport communitiesWidely popular, recreational and competitive

What is the difference between tracking cycling and other cycling types

What is Olympic track cycling?

Olympic track cycling is a competition that has been part of the Summer Olympics since the first modern Games in 1896, showcasing cyclists’ speed and endurance on a velodrome. Held in various locations around the world, it was introduced by the International Olympic Committee to include a range of sprint and endurance events for both men and women, reflecting the sport’s diversity and the athletes’ specialized skills. Over the years, Olympic track cycling has evolved in format and technology, maintaining its status as a thrilling display of athletic prowess and strategic racing that draws competitors and spectators from across the globe.

What are the rules and regulations of track cycling?

The rules and regulations of track cycling include starting correctly, maintaining lane discipline, wearing approved helmets, using regulation bikes, overtaking rules, behavior in team events, adherence to time limits, signaling for mechanical issues, respecting the derny in keirin races, and following specific event rules. Here is a detailed explanation of each in the list below.

  1. Starting Correctly: Riders must start behind the designated line and cannot cross it before the start signal is given to ensure a fair start for all competitors.
  2. Maintaining Lane Discipline: In individual timed events, cyclists must stay within their assigned lane, and in mass start events, they must respect the track boundaries to ensure safety and fairness.
  3. Wearing Approved Helmets: All competitors are required to wear helmets that meet international safety standards to protect against head injuries.
  4. Using Regulation Bikes: Bicycles must conform to UCI specifications, including weight and dimensions, to ensure that no rider has an unfair advantage.
  5. Overtaking Rules: When overtaking, the rider must pass on the outside unless the leading rider is veering off their line, to maintain safety and competitive fairness.
  6. Behavior in Team Events: Team members must work together without physically aiding each other (e.g., pushing) and follow the rules for exchanges and pacing to ensure the event’s integrity.
  7. Adherence to Time Limits: In timed events, riders must complete their race within a set time limit to qualify or score points, ensuring that competitions run smoothly and on schedule.
  8. Signaling for Mechanical Issues: Riders experiencing mechanical problems must signal to officials immediately and may be granted a restart or repair time, depending on the nature of the issue and the event’s rules.
  9. Respecting the Derny in Keirin Races: Riders must follow the pacing motorcycle (derny) without overtaking it until it pulls off the track, ensuring the keirin race’s unique strategy and safety are maintained.
  10. Following Specific Event Rules: Each track cycling event has its own set of detailed rules regarding starts, pacing, sprints, and finishes that riders must follow to ensure fair competition.

What are the rules and regulations of track cycling

What are the characteristics of a velodrome?

The characteristics of a velodrome include its oval-shaped track with banked curves, a smooth and seamless surface, standardized dimensions typically ranging from 250m to 400m in length, steep banking that can vary between 30 to 42 degrees, and a cote d’azur that delineates the track boundary. Each of these features plays a crucial role in the design and function of a velodrome, catering specifically to the demands of track cycling:

  1. Oval Shape: The velodrome’s oval shape enables continuous cycling without sharp turns, facilitating high-speed races and allowing cyclists to navigate the track efficiently.
  2. Banked Curves: These curves are designed to counteract the forces acting on cyclists at high speeds, enabling them to maintain velocity without the risk of sliding off the track.
  3. Smooth Surface: A velodrome’s surface is meticulously smooth to reduce friction and ensure consistent contact between the bike tires and the track, contributing to the safety and speed of cyclists.
  4. Standardized Dimensions: Velodromes typically measure between 250m to 400m in length, with the 250m track being the standard for international competitions, allowing for uniformity in track cycling events worldwide.
  5. Steep Banking: The steepness of the banking, which can reach up to 42 degrees in some velodromes, allows cyclists to tackle turns at high speeds without losing momentum, essential for maintaining pace during races.
  6. Cote d’Azur: This blue band running along the track’s inner edge serves as a non-competitive area that cyclists use for entering and exiting the track, helping to prevent accidents by separating the racing zone from the apron.
How does velodrome cycling work?

Velodrome cycling works by athletes racing on specially designed track bikes around an oval-shaped, banked track, utilizing steep angles for maintaining speed in curves and employing strategic positioning and drafting techniques to outpace competitors in various sprint and endurance events.

What are the track cycling distances?

The track cycling distances vary depending on the event, tailored to test different aspects of cycling prowess, from sprinting speed to endurance and tactical skills. Here’s a breakdown of the distances for various track cycling events in the below table, each distances are specifically designed for velodrome competitions, challenging athletes across a spectrum of cycling disciplines within the track environment.

Track Cycling EventDistance
Individual Sprint (Qualifying Time Trials)200m
Team Sprint (Men)750m
Team Sprint (Women)500m
Individual Pursuit (Men)4000m
Individual Pursuit (Women)3000m
Team Pursuit (Both)4000m
Omnium7.5km to 25km
Madison (Men)50km
Madison (Women)30km
Points Race (Men)40km
Points Race (Women)25km

What are the track cycling distances

How many laps is a track in cycling?

A track cycling lap typically measures 250 meters in a standard velodrome, a common distance for international competitions. The number of laps varies by event, directly correlating with the total distance to be covered. Here are the laps for each event based on a 250m track:

  • Individual Sprint (Qualifying Time Trials): The qualifying sprint is a flying start 200m time trial, less than a single lap.
  • Team Sprint (Men): 3 laps for a total of 750m.
  • Team Sprint (Women): 2 laps for a total of 500m.
  • Individual Pursuit (Men): 16 laps to cover 4000m.
  • Individual Pursuit (Women): 12 laps to cover 3000m.
  • Team Pursuit (Both): 16 laps for a 4000m distance.
  • Keirin: Varies, but the final sprint is about 2 to 3 laps after the derny leaves the track, with races usually around 8 laps total including the paced start.
  • Omnium: The total number of laps varies across the different races within the omnium; for example, the Scratch race might be 40 laps (10km) or more.
  • Madison (Men): 200 laps for a 50km race.
  • Madison (Women): 120 laps for a 30km race.
  • Points Race (Men): 160 laps for a 40km race.
  • Points Race (Women): 100 laps for a 25km race.
What do the lines on the track mean?

The lines on the track, including the apron, black line (measurement line), red line (sprinter’s line), and blue line (stayer’s line), serve distinct purposes in track cycling, guiding racers and officials during competition. Here’s what each line signifies:

  1. Apron: The apron is the flat area that surrounds the inner part of the track, not used for racing but for slowing down, starting, or if a rider needs to exit the track. It provides a safe space for cyclists to recover or prepare before joining the track.
  2. Black Line (Measurement Line): The black line, also known as the “gauge line” or “datum line,” runs closest to the inner edge of the track and is used as the reference point for the track’s length. Races are measured along this line, making it the shortest route around the track.
  3. Red Line (Sprinter’s Line): Positioned roughly one-third of the way up the track from the black line, the sprinter’s line designates the optimal lane for sprinting and dictates tactical positioning during sprint events. It marks the boundary that sprinters should not cross during a race to avoid impeding other racers.
  4. Blue Line (Stayer’s Line or Relief Line): The blue line, situated further up from the sprinter’s line, serves as a guide for lapped riders or those not actively contesting the sprint to move above, ensuring they do not interfere with the main field or sprinters. It provides a path for overtaking and helps in maintaining race organization.
Why do track cyclists go slow?

Track cyclists go slow during the initial stages of some races, such as the keirin or match sprints, because they employ tactical positioning to conserve energy and force their opponents to lead, which requires more effort due to air resistance. This slow pace allows cyclists to stay fresh for a final explosive effort and gives them the strategic advantage of being able to react to their opponent’s moves, choosing the best moment to launch their sprint. This tactic, known as “cat and mouse,” emphasizes the importance of strategy over constant high speed in track cycling, where the positioning and timing of the sprint can be as crucial as the cyclists’ speed and endurance.

Why do track cyclists go anti-clockwise?

Track cyclists go anti-clockwise on velodromes because this tradition has been established from the earliest days of track racing, providing a standardized direction for all competitors. This uniformity ensures consistency across competitions worldwide, allowing athletes to train and compete under the same conditions. Additionally, the anti-clockwise direction is believed to be easier for right-handed cyclists to balance and exert force effectively during turns, considering most people are right-handed. This orientation helps in optimizing performance and safety during high-speed races on the banked tracks of velodromes.

Track cycling safety

Track cycling safety involves several key practices and precautions to minimize risks and ensure the well-being of cyclists. Firstly, wearing appropriate safety gear, including a properly fitted helmet, gloves, and tight-fitting clothing, is essential to protect against injuries. Cyclists should also use bikes that comply with track specifications and are regularly maintained to prevent mechanical failures. Understanding and respecting the velodrome’s rules, such as the meaning of different track lines and obeying the codes of conduct during races and training, are crucial for preventing collisions and falls. Regular training and skill development, including learning how to navigate the banked track and understanding drafting and overtaking techniques, further enhance safety. Lastly, clear communication and signaling intentions among riders can prevent misunderstandings and accidents on the track. By adhering to these safety measures, track cyclists can enjoy the sport while effectively reducing the risk of injury.

Calories burned Track cycling

Calories burned in track cycling can vary significantly based on body weight, intensity, and duration of the activity. Track cycling, being more intense than general cycling due to high-speed races and the need for constant high output power, especially in sprints and pursuits, results in a higher calorie burn. The purpose of track cycling is to achieve the highest speed and best performance in various events, requiring athletes to exert more effort compared to casual or endurance road cycling.

Using the Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks (METs) method, we can calculate the calories burned per 30 minutes for different body weights at track cycling speeds in below table.

Body Weight (lb/kg)16-19 mph, racing/not drafting (Calories/30min)> 20 mph, racing, not drafting (Calories/30min)
150lb / 68.04kg429564
175lb / 79.38kg500658
200lb / 90.72kg572753
225lb / 102.06kg643847

Calories burned Track cycling

Is track cycling a good workout for weight loss?

Yes, track cycling is a good workout for weight loss because it allows for high-intensity interval training that can create a significant calorie deficit, essential for shedding pounds. The vigorous nature of track cycling, with its sprints and endurance events, elevates the heart rate, boosting metabolic rate both during and after exercise, leading to increased fat burn. Moreover, the varying durations of track cycling events cater to both short, intense workouts and longer, sustained efforts, providing flexibility in achieving weight loss goals through a mix of workout intensities and durations. This combination makes track cycling an efficient and effective way to enhance fitness and promote weight loss.

Track cycling racing

Track cycling racing encompasses both sprint and endurance formats, including sprint, team sprint, keirin, time trial for sprint events, and individual pursuit, team pursuit, points race, Madison, scratch race, and omnium race for endurance events. Here’s a breakdown of each:

Sprint Track cycling racing

  1. Sprint: Involves two cyclists competing over a short distance, focusing on high-speed and tactical maneuvering to out-sprint the opponent in the final stretch.
  2. Team Sprint: A relay race where teams (three for men, two for women) take turns leading one lap each, aiming for the fastest combined time.
  3. Keirin: Cyclists follow a pacer bike that gradually increases speed, then compete in a sprint after the pacer exits the track.
  4. Time Trial: A solo race against the clock where cyclists aim to cover a set distance (1000m for men, 500m for women) in the shortest time possible.

Endurance Track cycling racing

  1. Individual Pursuit: Riders start on opposite sides of the track and attempt to catch their opponent over 4000m for men and 3000m for women or achieve the fastest time.
  2. Team Pursuit: Teams of four race over 4000m, with the time taken on the third rider across the finish line, focusing on teamwork and aerodynamics.
  3. Points Race: A race where riders can earn points during sprints at designated laps and for lapping the field, with the highest point total winning.
  4. Madison: Teams of two alternate in and out of the race, tagging each other to switch, over distances of 50km for men and 30km for women, scoring points in sprints.
  5. Scratch Race: A direct race over a set distance (15km for men, 10km for women) where the first rider to cross the finish line wins.
  6. Omnium Race: A multi-discipline event combining sprint and endurance races where riders accumulate points across events to determine the overall winner.

Track cycling racing types

Track cycling events

Track cycling events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, and the UCI ranking system represent the pinnacle of competitive cycling, showcasing the sport’s elite talent on an international stage. Here’s a closer look at each:

  1. Olympic Games: Held every four years as part of the Summer Olympics, track cycling has been a fixture since the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. The event takes place in the host city’s velodrome, featuring a range of track cycling disciplines over distances varying by event, emphasizing the sport’s importance on the global stage.
  2. World Championships: The UCI Track Cycling World Championships are an annual event organized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), dating back to 1893. Hosted in different countries each year, the Championships crown world champions in various track cycling disciplines, attracting the world’s best cyclists to compete over standard track distances.
  3. World Cup: The UCI Track Cycling World Cup series runs annually, comprising several rounds held in different countries, acting as a key qualifier for the World Championships and Olympics. Since its inception in 1993, the World Cup has served as a platform for elite competition and talent development in track cycling, featuring standard Olympic distances for each event.
  4. Ranking: The UCI track cycling ranking system is a year-round points-based system that ranks individual cyclists and national teams based on their performance in UCI-sanctioned events, including the World Championships, World Cup, and Continental Championships. The system, crucial for Olympic and World Championships qualification, reflects athletes’ consistency and excellence in track cycling on a global scale.

Track cycling racing key techniques and strategies

Track cycling racing requires mastery of key techniques and strategies such as maintaining an aerodynamic position, strategic positioning within the pack, drafting behind competitors, executing well-timed sprints, conserving energy for the final push, mastering the art of the standing start, navigating the banking effectively, utilizing slipstreaming, anticipating opponents’ moves, and perfecting gear selection. Here’s how each plays a crucial role:

  1. Maintaining an Aerodynamic Position: Cyclists minimize air resistance by adopting a low, forward-leaning posture on the bike, crucial for maximizing speed, especially in time trials and sprints.
  2. Strategic Positioning within the Pack: Riders position themselves wisely within the group to conserve energy, avoid wind resistance, and prepare for attack opportunities.
  3. Drafting Behind Competitors: Utilizing the slipstream of a rider ahead to reduce wind resistance, drafting is a key strategy for conserving energy during races.
  4. Executing Well-Timed Sprints: Timing the sprint perfectly, often in the final lap or straight, is critical for overtaking opponents and winning races.
  5. Conserving Energy for the Final Push: Riders manage their effort throughout the race to save enough energy for a strong finish, crucial in endurance events.
  6. Mastering the Art of the Standing Start: In timed events, mastering a powerful and efficient standing start can give cyclists an early advantage.
  7. Navigating the Banking Effectively: Skillful riders use the velodrome’s banked turns to maintain speed and position, a technique that requires practice and precision.
  8. Utilizing Slipstreaming: Similar to drafting, slipstreaming involves staying close behind another rider to benefit from reduced air resistance, and planning when to exit the slipstream for overtaking.
  9. Anticipating Opponents’ Moves: Successful track cyclists observe their opponents and anticipate their strategies, allowing them to counteract or take advantage of the race dynamics.
  10. Perfecting Gear Selection: Choosing the right gear ratio for the event and individual racing style is crucial, as track bikes have fixed gears, and the selection affects acceleration and top speed.

Track cycling racing key techniques and strategies

Best Track Cycling Riders to Watch

The top track cycling riders to watch in 2024, based on UCI track rankings, include men’s elite sprinters RUDYK Mateusz (Poland), LAVREYSEN Harrie (Netherlands), and RICHARDSON Matthew (Great Britain), as well as women’s elite sprinters FINUCANE Emma (TIN), ANDREWS Ellesse (Great Britain), and FRIEDRICH Lea Sophie (Germany), and as of February 2024, based on UCI track ranking data, here are the top track cyclists to watch in below table list. 

Category1st Place2nd Place3rd Place
Men Elite SprintRUDYK Mateusz (Poland)LAVREYSEN Harrie (Netherlands)RICHARDSON Matthew (Great Britain)
Men Elite KeirinRICHARDSON Matthew (Great Britain)LAVREYSEN Harrie (Netherlands)QUINTERO CHAVARRO Kevin Santiago (Colombia)
Men Elite 1km Time TrialBIANCHI Matteo (Italy)GLAETZER Matthew (Australia)CORNISH Thomas (Great Britain)
Men Elite OmniumBIBIC Dylan (Canada)TEUTENBERG Tim Torn (Germany)VAN DEN BOSSCHE Fabio (Belgium)
Men Elite Points RacePERRETT William (TIN)DRIJVER Bertold (Netherlands)GUILLEMETTE Mathias (CWD)
Men Elite Scratch RaceHANSEN Tobias (Denmark)BIBIC Dylan (Canada)DENS Tuur (Belgium)
Men Elite 4km PursuitBIGHAM Daniel (Great Britain)BUCK-GRAMCKO Tobias (Germany)ERNST Chris (Germany)
Men Elite MadisonHAVIK Yoeri (Netherlands)VAN SCHIP Jan Willem (Netherlands)KLUGE Roger (Germany)
Men Elite EliminationBIBIC Dylan (Canada)HESTERS Jules (Belgium)HANSEN Tobias (Denmark)
Women Elite SprintFINUCANE Emma (TIN)ANDREWS Ellesse (Great Britain)FRIEDRICH Lea Sophie (Germany)
Women Elite KeirinBAYONA PINEDA Martha (Colombia)DEGRENDELE Nicky (Belgium)ANDREWS Ellesse (Great Britain)
Women Elite 500m Time TrialCLONAN Kristina (Australia)GRABOSCH Pauline Sophie (Germany)BAYONA PINEDA Martha (Colombia)
Women Elite OmniumSTENBERG Anita Yvonne (Norway)KAJIHARA Yumi (Japan)GILLESPIE Lara (Great Britain)
Women Elite Points RaceKOPECKY Lotte (Belgium)RAAIJMAKERS Marit (Netherlands)MACHAČOVÁ Jarmila (Czech Republic)
Women Elite ScratchBALEIŠYTE Olivija (Lithuania)STENBERG Anita Yvonne (Norway)FIDANZA Martina (Italy)
Women Elite 3km PursuitBRAUßE Franziska (Germany)BOTHA Bryony (South Africa)DONNELLY Samantha (Ireland)
Women Elite MadisonUCHINO Tsuyaka (RKD)PIKULIK Wiktoria (Poland)BOTHA Bryony (South Africa)
Women Elite EliminationSTENBERG Anita Yvonne (Norway)VALENTE Jennifer (USA)BALEIŠYTE Olivija (Lithuania)

Best track cycling riders to watch

What does it take to become a professional track cyclist?

To become a professional track cyclist, one should possess exceptional physical fitness, master technical skills and bike handling, commit to rigorous training and discipline, develop strategic racing insights, and obtain access to high-quality equipment and coaching. Here’s an in-depth look at each factor as below.

  1. Exceptional Physical Fitness: Professional track cycling demands a high level of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and explosive power to compete effectively in races. Cyclists need to maintain peak physical condition through comprehensive fitness programs tailored to the demands of track cycling.
  2. Master Technical Skills and Bike Handling: Track cycling requires precise bike handling skills due to the high speeds, steep banking, and close proximity to other racers. Cyclists must develop the ability to maneuver efficiently and safely on the velodrome, including starting, sprinting, and turning techniques.
  3. Rigorous Training and Discipline: Success in track cycling comes from consistent, focused training that covers endurance, speed work, interval training, and recovery. Professional cyclists follow structured training programs, often involving both on-track and off-track workouts, to enhance performance and prevent injuries.
  4. Strategic Racing Insights: Understanding race tactics and being able to make quick decisions during competition are crucial. This includes knowing when to attack, how to position oneself in the pack, drafting techniques, and how to outmaneuver opponents in the final sprint.
  5. Access to High-Quality Equipment and Coaching: Competing at a professional level requires state-of-the-art track bikes and gear optimized for performance. Professional guidance from experienced coaches is also essential for developing technique, strategy, and a personalized training regimen.
How can I follow professional track cycling events and news?

You can follow professional track cycling events and news by subscribing to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) website, following relevant social media channels, and checking specialized cycling news websites.

  1. Subscribing to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Website: By subscribing to the UCI website, you gain access to official updates, race schedules, rankings, and detailed information about track cycling events worldwide, making it a primary source for all things related to professional cycling.
  2. Following Relevant Social Media Channels: Athletes, teams, and cycling organizations actively use platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to share updates, behind-the-scenes content, and live event coverage, offering fans a closer look at the professional track cycling world.
  3. Checking Specialized Cycling News Websites: Websites like Cyclingnews, VeloNews, and British Cycling provide comprehensive coverage of track cycling, including event reports, interviews with cyclists, and insights into the sport, ensuring fans stay informed about the latest developments.

Track Cycling World Records

The UCI track cycling world records for the 1k time trial for men are held by Jeffrey Hoogland of the Netherlands with a time of 55.433 seconds in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 31 October 2023, and for the 500m time trial for women by Jessica Salazar of Mexico with a time of 32.268 seconds in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 7 October 2016; the hour record for men is held by Filippo Ganna of Italy with a distance of 56.792 km in Grenchen, Switzerland, on 8 October 2022, and for women by Vittoria Bussi of Italy with a distance of 50.267 km in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 13 October 2023.

The table below presents the world records for track cycling, showcasing the exceptional achievements in various events by both men and women. These records are recognized by the UCI and highlight the pinnacle of performance in the discipline of track cycling.

Flying 200 m time trial (Men)Nicholas PaulTrinidad and Tobago9.1006 September 2019Pan American ChampionshipsCochabamba, Bolivia
Flying 200 m time trial (Women)Kelsey MitchellCanada10.1545 September 2019Pan American ChampionshipsCochabamba, Bolivia
Flying 500 m time trial (Men)Jeffrey HooglandNetherlands24.56431 October 2023 Aguascalientes, Mexico
Flying 500 m time trial (Women)Kristina VogelGermany28.97017 December 2016Frankfurter KreiselFrankfurt (Oder), Germany
Team sprint (Men)Jeffrey Hoogland, Harrie Lavreysen, Roy van den BergNetherlands41.22526 February 2020World ChampionshipsBerlin, Germany
Team sprint (Women)Lea Friedrich, Pauline Grabosch, Emma HinzeGermany45.8483 August 2023World ChampionshipsGlasgow, Great Britain
1 km time trial (Men)Jeffrey HooglandNetherlands55.43331 October 2023 Aguascalientes, Mexico
500 m time trial (Women)Jessica SalazarMexico32.2687 October 2016Pan American ChampionshipsAguascalientes, Mexico
4000 m individual pursuit (Men)Filippo GannaItaly3:59.63614 October 2022World ChampionshipsSaint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
3000m individual pursuit (Women)Chloé Dygert OwenUnited States3:16.93729 February 2020World ChampionshipsBerlin, Germany
4000 m team pursuit (Men)Simone Consonni, Filippo Ganna, Francesco Lamon, Jonathan MilanItaly3:42.0324 August 2021Olympic GamesIzu, Japan
4000m team pursuit (Women)Franziska Brauße, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein, Mieke KrögerGermany4:04.2423 August 2021Olympic GamesIzu, Japan
Hour record (Men)Filippo GannaItaly56.792 km8 October 2022 Grenchen, Switzerland
Hour record (Women)Vittoria BussiItaly50.267 km13 October 2023 Aguascalientes, Mexico

Track Cycling World Records

How fast do cyclists go in a velodrome?

Cyclists can go as fast as approximately 79.12 km/h (49.16 mph) in a velodrome, based on the flying 200 m time trial record by Nicholas Paul from Trinidad and Tobago in the Pan American Championships on 6th September 2019.

What is the average track cycling speed?

The average track cycling speed varies widely depending on the event, ranging from 50 to 70 km/h (approximately 31 to 43.5 mph) for endurance events and up to 60 to 85 km/h (about 37 to 52.8 mph) for sprint events, reflecting the diversity of skills and strategies in the sport.

What is the women’s track cycling world record?

The UCI track cycling world records for women include the hour record held by Vittoria Bussi of Italy, covering a distance of 50.267 km in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 13 October 2023, and the Flying 200m time trial record held by Kelsey Mitchell of Canada, with a time of 10.154 seconds in Cochabamba, Bolivia, during the Pan American Championships on 5 September 2019.

Track cycling equipment

Track cycling equipment features specialized bikes with a stiff, lightweight frame made often of carbon fiber or aluminum, fixed gears without brakes, deep-section wheels for aerodynamic efficiency, and narrow handlebars, designed exclusively for the high-speed, precise demands of velodrome racing.

Track bike

A track bike is a bicycle designed specifically for racing at a velodrome or track, characterized by its fixed gear, absence of brakes, and lightweight, aerodynamic frame. Originating in the late 19th century for track racing, its design enables high speeds and efficient power transfer, distinguishing it from other bicycles through its simplicity and the requirement for riders to control speed through pedal pressure

What is the difference between a track bike and a road bike?

The difference between a track bike and a road bike lies in their design, gearing, and braking system. Track bikes feature a fixed gear without the ability to coast, lacking brakes, and are designed with a minimalistic and aerodynamic structure for high-speed racing in velodromes. Conversely, road bikes are equipped with a variable gear system, allowing for coasting, come with front and rear brakes for safety, and are designed for versatility and comfort over long distances on varied terrain. These distinctions cater to the specific demands of track racing and road cycling, with track bikes emphasizing speed and control in a controlled environment, while road bikes are built for endurance, efficiency, and safety across diverse road conditions.

What is the difference between a track bike and a time trail bike?

The difference between a track bike and a time trial bike lies in their design purpose, gearing system, and aerodynamic features. Track bikes are designed for velodrome racing with fixed gear, no brakes, and a simplistic aerodynamic design to maximize speed and efficiency in a controlled, flat environment. In contrast, time trial bikes are engineered for individual or team time trial events on open roads, equipped with a multi-gear setup, advanced aerodynamic features including deep-section wheels, aero bars for a more forward and tucked riding position, and brakes for safety. These distinctions reflect the unique demands of each cycling discipline: track bikes prioritize minimalism and direct power transfer in a predictable, circular track, while time trial bikes focus on reducing wind resistance and enhancing the rider’s aerodynamics for maximum speed over varying road conditions.

What is the difference between a track bike and a triathlon bike?

The difference between a track bike and a triathlon bike primarily lies in their gearing, design for specific environments, and aerodynamic features tailored to the discipline. Track bikes are designed with a single fixed gear, meaning the pedal movement is directly linked to the wheel movement, without the ability to coast, and they lack brakes, optimizing them for the controlled, smooth surface of a velodrome. On the other hand, triathlon bikes feature a multi-gear setup to handle varied terrain, incorporate advanced aerodynamic designs including aero bars that allow riders to maintain a streamlined position over long distances, and are equipped with brakes for safety. Additionally, triathlon bikes are built to enhance comfort over long distances with features like adjustable seat angles and integrated hydration systems, while track bikes prioritize simplicity and rigidity for short, high-intensity efforts in a velodrome. These differences reflect the contrasting requirements of track racing, which focuses on speed and efficiency in a fixed environment, versus triathlon cycling, which demands versatility, aerodynamics, and endurance for varied outdoor courses.

Track bike brands

Track bike brands such as Vitus, BMC, Dolan, Moda Forte, Fuji, Cervélo, LOOK, Argon 18, Cinelli, Pinarello, Handsling, Specialized, Giant, Trek, and SCOTT are renowned for their quality and performance in the world of track cycling.

Track bike equipment

Track bike equipment encompasses specialized frames, aerodynamic wheels, fixed gears, handlebars tailored for track racing, and track-specific tires.

  1. Frames for track bikes are engineered for stiffness and aerodynamics, using materials like carbon fiber or aluminum to maximize power transfer and reduce drag on the velodrome.
  2. Wheels are often deeper in profile compared to road cycling, designed to cut through the air more efficiently, enhancing a rider’s speed and stability during races.
  3. Fixed gears eliminate the complexity of shifting mechanisms, allowing for a direct connection between the rider’s output and the bike’s motion, which is crucial for the precise control and tactics of track racing.
  4. Handlebars on track bikes vary from traditional drop bars to more specialized shapes like sprint bars, offering optimized positions for aerodynamics and leverage during different phases of a race.
  5. Tires are narrower and pumped to higher pressures than those on road bikes to decrease rolling resistance and increase speed, with tread patterns designed for the smooth surface of a velodrome.

Track bike frame materials

Track bike frame materials primarily include carbon fiber and aluminum, each offering distinct advantages and disadvantages tailored to track cycling’s unique demands.

Carbon Fiber material for track bike frame

  1. Pros: Carbon fiber is renowned for its strength-to-weight ratio, providing stiffness and efficiency without adding unnecessary weight. This material can be molded into aerodynamic shapes, optimizing performance on the track by reducing air resistance. Additionally, carbon fiber has vibration-damping properties, enhancing rider comfort during high-speed races.
  2. Cons: The main drawback of carbon fiber is its cost, as it tends to be more expensive than aluminum. While it’s strong, carbon can be susceptible to impact damage, which may not be as easily detected without careful inspection.

Aluminum material for track bike frame

  1. Pros: Aluminum frames are known for their robustness and relatively lower cost, making them a more budget-friendly option for track cyclists. They provide a good balance of stiffness and weight, essential for efficient power transfer and acceleration. Aluminum frames are also generally more resistant to impact, with damages being more visible and easier to assess.
  2. Cons: Compared to carbon fiber, aluminum frames offer less vibration damping, which can lead to a harsher ride on the rigid surface of a velodrome. Additionally, aluminum may not provide the same level of aerodynamic efficiency as carbon fiber, due to limitations in shaping the material.
How do different track bike models affect performance?

Different track bike models affect performance by varying in weight, aerodynamics, stiffness, and comfort, with specific designs tailored for sprint or endurance events; for example, sprint bikes prioritize stiffness and aerodynamics for short, high-speed bursts, while endurance models may offer more comfort and slightly less aggressive geometry to support longer races.

Can you do track cycling without a track bike?

Yes, you can do track cycling without a track bike because many velodromes allow the use of road bikes with certain modifications, such as adding drop bars and removing brakes and gears, but it’s not ideal due to safety concerns and the lack of specific features that enhance performance on a banked track.

Track bike Gears

Track bike gears include a track cycling helmet, apparel (kit, gloves, socks), shoes, pedals, saddle, and groupset.

  1. Track Cycling Helmet: Designed for aerodynamics and safety, these helmets have a sleek shape to reduce air resistance and protect the cyclist’s head during high-speed races.
  2. Track Cycling Apparel: Comprised of a skin-tight kit, gloves, and socks, this apparel reduces drag and provides comfort and protection against track surface abrasions.
  3. Track Cycling Shoes: These are stiff-soled to maximize power transfer from the cyclist to the pedals, featuring a secure fastening system for stability.
  4. Track Cycling Pedals: Designed for a firm connection between shoe and bike, these pedals often require cleats and offer a larger platform for efficient power transfer.
  5. Track Cycling Saddle: Tailored for track racing, these saddles are lightweight and minimalistic, providing the right balance of comfort and performance for short, intense efforts.
  6. Track Cycling Groupset: Consists of a single fixed gear with no freewheel mechanism, optimizing power transfer and control at high speeds on the track.

What safety gear is recommended for track cycling?

Recommended safety gears for track cycling are a properly fitted helmet, skin-tight cycling suit, and gloves.

  1. Helmet: A must-have for all cyclists, especially on the track where speeds are high, it protects the head from severe injuries during falls or collisions.
  2. Skin-tight Cycling Suit: Minimizes the risk of fabric getting caught in the bike mechanisms or flapping dangerously at high speeds, also offers some protection against road rash in case of a fall.
  3. Gloves: Provide grip and protect the hands, which are among the first body parts to hit the ground during a fall, also cushion vibrations and reduce the risk of blisters from prolonged handlebar contact.

Track bike accessories

Track bike accessories include clipless pedals, aerodynamic bars, a track cycling computer, high-pressure tires, and a gear bag.

  1. Clipless Pedals: Enhance the cyclist’s connection to the bike, allowing for efficient power transfer and control during high-speed racing.
  2. Aerodynamic Bars: Improve handling and speed by reducing air resistance, essential for achieving optimal performance on the velodrome.
  3. Track Cycling Computer: Provides real-time data such as speed, lap times, and cadence, helping cyclists monitor performance and make adjustments during training or competition.
  4. High-Pressure Tires: Designed for track surfaces, they offer low rolling resistance and are crucial for maintaining high speeds with less effort.
  5. Gear Bag: A practical accessory for carrying and protecting all track cycling gear, including shoes, helmet, kit, and tools, ensuring everything is organized and readily accessible at events.

How to ride a track bike?

To ride a track bike, maintain a steady cadence, focus on your posture, use the banking to your advantage, practice riding close to others, and master starting and stopping without brakes.

  1. Maintain a Steady Cadence: Keeping a consistent pedal stroke helps manage your speed and balance on the track.
  2. Focus on Your Posture: A proper riding position minimizes air resistance and maximizes efficiency, crucial for track cycling.
  3. Use the Banking to Your Advantage: Learn how to navigate the velodrome’s banked turns to maintain speed without exerting extra effort.
  4. Practice Riding Close to Others: Track racing often involves close proximity to other cyclists, so comfort with pack riding is essential.
  5. Master Starting and Stopping Without Brakes: Since track bikes typically don’t have brakes, learning to control speed with pedal pressure and track geometry is vital.

What to know about track bike for begineers?

As a track bike beginner, you should know that track bikes have a fixed gear with no freewheel mechanism, lack traditional brakes, require a specific pedaling technique to start and stop, are used on velodromes with banked tracks, and demand a unique riding posture for speed and efficiency.

How to brake on a track bike?

To brake on a track bike, which lacks traditional brakes, one must gradually slow down by applying pressure against the pedal movement, using the resistance of the fixed gear to decrease speed, and carefully timing the slowdown to maintain control and safety.

How to improve track cycling skills?

To improve track cycling skills, focus on mastering bike handling, practicing specific drills, increasing leg strength, improving endurance, and studying track tactics.

  1. Mastering Bike Handling: Spend time getting comfortable with the fixed-gear mechanism of a track bike, learning how to maintain control and balance at both high speeds and when maneuvering tightly on the velodrome.
  2. Practicing Specific Drills: Engage in sprint starts, standing starts, and interval training to improve explosive power and speed, vital for track racing.
  3. Increasing Leg Strength: Incorporate weight training into your routine, focusing on leg muscles to enhance your power output during sprints and climbs.
  4. Improving Endurance: Build your cardiovascular endurance with longer, steady rides and interval training to sustain higher speeds over distances.
  5. Studying Track Tactics: Learn from watching professional races and training sessions, understanding the strategic elements like drafting, positioning, and timing attacks effectively.
How can I improve my speed and endurance for track cycling?

To improve speed and endurance for track cycling, focus on interval training, incorporating both high-intensity sprints and longer, sustained efforts to build cardiovascular capacity and muscular endurance. Utilize specific track drills, such as flying laps and pursuit simulations, to adapt your body to the demands of track racing. Strength training, especially leg exercises like squats and deadlifts, will enhance your power output for better acceleration and sustained speed. Regularly practice on the velodrome to get accustomed to the track’s banking and learn efficient line choices for conserving energy and maintaining speed. Finally, incorporate recovery and nutrition strategies to support your training, ensuring your body can rebuild stronger, enhancing both speed and endurance specifically tailored for the rigors of track cycling.

Track cycling training plan

The purpose of a track cycling training plan is to develop the specific physiological and technical skills required for the high-speed, high-intensity nature of velodrome racing. Such a plan focuses on building strength in the lower-body muscles—crucial for explosive starts and sustained power—enhancing cardiovascular endurance to maintain high speeds over distance, and improving neuromuscular efficiency for better bike handling and pedaling technique. Track cycling differs from other forms of cycling in its emphasis on short, intense efforts and the ability to navigate steeply banked tracks, requiring a unique blend of speed, agility, and tactical acumen. Training plans typically include interval workouts for speed and power, endurance rides to build aerobic capacity, strength training sessions to increase muscle force, and specific drills to hone skills like sprinting, standing starts, and riding close to others at high speeds. This comprehensive approach ensures athletes can compete effectively in the dynamic and varied events characteristic of track cycling, from sprints to pursuits and mass-start races.

Track cycling training plan for beginner

Track cycling training plan for beginners is designed to establish a solid foundation in the sport, focusing on developing lower-body muscles, improving endurance, and familiarizing with track cycling techniques, which differ significantly from road or mountain biking due to the unique conditions of the velodrome and the bike’s fixed gear. A weekly training plan example for a beginner is showing as below.

MondayEndurance Ride (30 min low intensity)Steady pace, comfortable resistance
TuesdayRest or Active RecoveryStretching, foam rolling
WednesdayInterval Training (30 min, including 5×2 min high intensity with 2 min rest)Speed and power; maintain form
FridaySkill Development (Starts, Stops, Riding the Line) – 30 minPractice technique on a stationary bike or safe track area
SaturdayStrength Training (Lower body and core exercises)Squats, lunges, planks, etc.
SundayLong Ride (45-60 min moderate intensity)Build endurance, simulate track conditions

Track cycling training plan for beginner

Track cycling training plan for amateur

The track cycling training plan for amateurs focuses on developing various aspects of cycling performance, including explosive speed, aerobic capacity, technique, and endurance. Here’s a weekly training plan example below.

MondaySpeed Intervals (10×1 min high intensity with 1 min rest)Develop explosive speed and recovery
TuesdayStrength Training (Upper body and core)Upper body strength and core stability
WednesdayEndurance Ride (1 hr moderate intensity)Increase aerobic capacity
ThursdayRest or Active RecoveryMuscle recovery and flexibility
FridayTechnique Training (Standing starts, sprints)Improving start speed and in-sprint technique
SaturdayHill Repeats or Resistance Training (30 min)Build power and mimic track gradient resistance
SundayLong Ride (2 hr steady pace)Enhance endurance and mental stamina
Track cycling training plan for professional

The track cycling training plan for professionals is designed to refine high-level performance capabilities, focusing on optimizing speed, power, endurance, and technical precision on the track. The goal is to prepare athletes for the demands of competitive racing, including World Cups and Championships, through a comprehensive approach that balances intense track sessions, strength and conditioning work, and strategic rest. Here’s a weekly training plan example below.

MondayIntensive Track Session (Sprint drills, time trials)Maximizing speed and power output
TuesdayGym Session (Plyometrics, weights)Muscular strength and explosive power
WednesdayTactical Training (Race simulation, strategy)Race tactics and mental preparation
ThursdayRecovery Ride + Core TrainingRecovery and core stability
FridaySpeed Endurance (Repeated high-intensity efforts)Sustaining high speed over distance
SaturdayGym Session (Lower body strength, flexibility)Lower body power and injury prevention
SundayLong Endurance Ride (3-4 hours)Aerobic base building and endurance

Track cycling training plan for professional

Why are track cyclist legs so big?

Track cyclists’ legs are so big because their training focuses on short, intense efforts requiring significant power output, which leads to hypertrophy of the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings, as they repetitively push against high resistance on the track, fostering muscle growth and strength.

Nutrition needs for track cyclists

Nutrition needs for track cyclists include a balance of macronutrients such as carbohydrates for energy, proteins for muscle repair and growth, and healthy fats for endurance. Additionally, micronutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamins D and B12 are crucial for oxygen transport, bone health, and energy production, ensuring peak performance and recovery.

What are the health benefits of track cycling?

The health benefits of track cycling include improved cardiovascular health, enhanced muscular strength and endurance, increased metabolic rate, improved joint mobility, and stress reduction, along with other cycling benefits for all cyclists.

  1. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Track cycling boosts heart health and circulation through intense aerobic activity.
  2. Enhanced Muscular Strength and Endurance: The rigorous demands on leg muscles during sprints and climbs build strength and endurance.
  3. Increased Metabolic Rate: Cycling burns calories during and after exercise, aiding in weight management.
  4. Improved Joint Mobility: The low-impact nature of cycling helps maintain or increase the range of motion in your knees and hips.
  5. Stress Reduction: The release of endorphins during track cycling provides a sense of well-being and relaxation.

What are the risks of track cycling?

The risks of track cycling include high-speed falls, collisions with other cyclists, overuse injuries, dehydration, and track-related injuries such as skin abrasions from velodrome surfaces.

  1. High-Speed Falls: The high speeds achieved on the track can lead to falls that result in serious injuries.
  2. Collisions with Other Cyclists: Close racing conditions increase the risk of colliding with other riders, potentially causing injuries to multiple cyclists.
  3. Overuse Injuries: The repetitive nature of cycling can lead to overuse injuries, such as knee pain or tendonitis.
  4. Dehydration: Intense effort without adequate hydration can lead to dehydration, impacting performance and health.
  5. Track-Related Injuries: The hard surface of the velodrome can cause severe skin abrasions or “track burn” in the event of a fall.
How to join a track cycling team or club?

To join a track cycling team or club, one should do as mentioned below list.

  1. Assess Fitness Level: Ensure your fitness level is suitable for track cycling, which demands both endurance and sprinting capabilities.
  2. Research Local Clubs and Teams: Look for track cycling clubs or teams in your area. Most cities with velodromes have clubs associated with them.
  3. Attend Track Cycling Events: Visiting track cycling events or races is a great way to meet team members and coaches in person.
  4. Participate in Open Sessions: Many clubs offer open sessions or taster days for beginners. Participating in these can give you a feel for the sport and the club environment.
  5. Show Commitment: Demonstrating your commitment to training and improvement can make you a more attractive candidate for a team or club.
  6. Contact the Team or Club Directly: Reach out to the team or club through their official channels (website, social media) to inquire about joining.
  7. Prepare for Tryouts or Assessments: Some teams may require you to pass a tryout or assessment to join. Make sure you are prepared and know what to expect.
  8. Get the Right Equipment: While some clubs may lend equipment to beginners, having your own track bike and gear can be beneficial.
  9. Join Cycling Associations: Joining local or national cycling associations can provide you with resources and connect you with the cycling community.
  10. Network: Building relationships with current members and showing genuine interest in the sport can significantly increase your chances of joining.
Where can I find a velodrome or track cycling facilities near me?

To find a velodrome or track cycling facilities near you, you can conduct a Google search for “velodrome near me,” check local cycling club websites, explore track cycling groups on Facebook, or consult national cycling organizations’ directories for listings of facilities and clubs in your area.

What are the benefits of joining a track cycling community?

The benefits of joining a track cycling community are access to experienced coaching, the opportunity to train in a supportive and motivational environment, and the chance to participate in organized races and events for skill improvement and competition experience.

What are the best apps for track cycling?

For track cycling enthusiasts, finding apps specifically designed for their needs can be a bit challenging due to the niche nature of the sport. However, some apps that are beneficial for track cyclists include:

  1. Strava: While not exclusively for track cycling, Strava is excellent for tracking performance, analyzing progress, and connecting with a community of cyclists. It’s beneficial for track cyclists looking to monitor their training sessions and compete in virtual challenges.
  2. TrainerRoad: Offers structured training plans that are beneficial for track cyclists focusing on improving their performance through specific, goal-oriented workouts. Its science-based training approach helps cyclists increase their speed and endurance.
  3. Zwift: Although more known for its virtual riding environments, Zwift offers indoor cycling workouts and training plans that can be beneficial for track cyclists, especially during off-season or when outdoor track access is limited. It helps keep training engaging and competitive.
  4. TrainingPeaks: This app is great for tracking workouts, planning seasons, and analyzing performance data. Track cyclists can benefit from its detailed analysis tools to fine-tune their training based on specific metrics.
  5. MyFitnessPal: Nutrition is key in any cyclist’s performance. MyFitnessPal can help track cyclists’ dietary intake to ensure they are fueling their bodies correctly for the demands of track cycling.