As a track based club we spend time coaching riders in track racing. Sessions are mainly held at Palmer Park Velodrome, but we also run sessions at other velodromes including Calshot, Newport, Derby and Lea Valley.
We also run the U12 track racing on Monday nights, as part of Reading Track League. More details can be found on the U12 track racing website.
PPV novice guide to track racing
Types of races
This is a short description of track events that are commonly raced by members of Palmer Park Velo.
Track time trial
The time trial is usual a one or two lap events (number of laps is based on age). This event is a straight out race against the clock from a standing start Riders will keep to the line at the bottom of the track (usually painted white) to ensure they have to cover the least distance. Riders usually only get 1 attempt to set a time, and the winner of the event is simply the rider to post the quickest time.
Flying 200m time trial
The flying 200 m time trial (so-called because riders have a flying start, as opposed to the standing start) is rarely held on its own. It is more commonly used as the qualifying event for the sprint competition, or as part of an Omnium competition. Velodromes have a line painted across the track at 200 m before the finish line, for this purpose. The clock will start as they cross this line and stop when they reach the finish line. The rider will ride around the top of the track from the start line using the incline of the banking to gain speed, the rider will aim to reach maximum speed and the bottom of the banking as they cross the 200m line, they will keep to the bottom of the track (the white line) and maintain full speed to the finish line.
The sprint is run from the 250m line with up to 5 riders sprinting to the finish line. The race is usual run in Heats with a semi-final or final depending on numbers involved. The riders are allowed a push start from the holders. In the Heat’s the 1st and 2nd positioned riders go through to the next round, the 3rd place riders may have the opportunity to enter the repechage giving them a second chance to qualify for the next round.
The Team sprint (also sometimes known as the Olympic sprint) is a track cycling event. Two teams race against each other, 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. The team with the fastest time is the winner.
The Keirin is a variant of the sprint in which a higher number (usually 6-8, or 9 in Japan) of sprinters compete. Riders are paced in the early laps by (and are required to stay behind) a derny motorcycle, which slowly increases the speed of the race. It then leaves the track with about 2/3 of the lap remaining (at Palmer Park) the distance can vary dependent on the track. The first rider across the finish line is the winner. The derny will usually be an older experienced rider where a motorcycle is not available.
A points race is a mass start track cycling event involving large numbers of riders simultaneously on track. It was an Olympic event for men between 1984-2008 and for women 1996-2008.This race can be one of the more confusing races to watch . Put simply this is a race over a long distance. A sprint is held a set number of laps dependent on age group with 5,3,2 and 1 points being awarded to the top 4 finishers in each sprint. The winner of the race is the one to have the most points at the end of the race. In addition to the sprints, any riders managing to lap the main field is awarded an extra 20 points.
Devil Take the Hindmost to give its full title or elimination race is a massed start track cycling distance event. The race is run normally for individual competitors . At the end of every lap or every set number of laps the last rider to cross the line is eliminated from the race. When just a handful of riders remain, they sprint for the finish. Tactically, the real racing in a “devil” happens at the back of the field. With riders at the front riding steadily and those behind moving up on the elimination laps to find a safe spot, the race favours riders with nerve and track-craft.
A scratch race is a cycling race in which all contestants start from scratch (on equal terms). Finishing order is based on the final order across the line at the completion of the race; there are no intermediate points or sprints. If one or more riders gains an entire lap on the peloton and keeps this to the finish, this advantage places them ahead of the other riders with fewer laps completed.
As with the Individual pursuit the objective is to cover the distance in the fastest time or to catch and overtake the other team in a final. Riders in a team follow each other closely in line to minimise total drag, and periodically the lead rider (who works the hardest) peels off the front, swings up the track banking and rejoins the team at the rear. Since the winning team is decided by the third rider, it is common for one rider to take a “death pull,” where they ride so hard that they cannot maintain the group-pace afterwards. This allows their team-mates to briefly recover behind him before they make a final acceleration towards the finish line.
The madison is a conventional race with riders in each team riding part of the distance, handing over to the other member, resting, and then returning to the race. Teams are usually of two riders but occasionally of three. Only one of the team is racing at any time and the replacement rider has to be touched before he can take over. The touch can also be a push, often on the shorts, or one rider hurling the other into the race by a hand-sling. Both riders from the team began riding on the track at the same time, one going fast on the short line around the bottom of the track and the other idling higher up until his turn comes to take over. The aim of each team is to ride more laps than any of the others. Tied positions are split by points awarded for placings at a series of sprints at intervals during the race.
A Velodrome is an arena for track cycling. Modern Velodromes feature steeply banked oval tracks, consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. An Indoor track usually has relatively steep banking due to the shorter length compared with an outdoor track like Palmer Park. The straights transition to the circular turn through a moderate easement curve. If you want to know what that means follow this here
An Omnium is a multiple race event in track cycling in which all contestants compete against each other in five (or six) different disciplines. The omnium can be considered the event which determines the best all-round track cyclist as the disciplines feature both sprint events and endurance events. The ultimate sprinter or the rider with the best condition is unlikely to win the omnium. The one that has the ability to combine and be competitive in both styles of disciplines is the rider who is most likely to win the event.
The peloton (from French, literally meaning little ball or platoon and also related to the English word pellet), field, bunch or pack is the large main group of riders in a road bicycle race. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near (particularly behind) other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%.
French for “second chance.” This stage of a sprint racing event permits athletes a second chance to earn a spot in the next round of competition (the semi-finals)
A Derny is a motorized bicycle for motor-paced track cycling events. On a derny, the driver sits close to the back in an upright position to provide an envelope of low wind resistance for the cyclist drafting or slipstreaming behind. For most derny races, the cyclist sits in the slipstream of the derny for the duration of the event. In keirin races, common in Japan and familiar elsewhere, the derny brings several riders up to speed, at which point it pulls off and the race finishes in a sprint without the pacer.
Photography © Chris Macleod