Types of Events
Similar to Track and Field meets, velodrome races offer spectators a wide variety of events to watch. Each event is unique and presents its own set of physical and mental demands for riders. But unlike track and field, what makes velodrome racing unique is that all riders must compete in each scheduled event, meaning sprinters have to figure out a way to finish endurance events and endurance riders need a figure out a way to out smart the sprinters in a short fast race. All weekly and Grand Prix races are “Omnium” style events which are a series of races worth points. To win an omnium style event you must start each race and you must accumulate the most amount of points during each event. The rider with the most points at the end of all of the races wins. While watching you will find some events you may favor more than others, that’s what makes it great.
Here are a few of the typical events that will take place in a weekly race.
The split scratch will be a combination of a points race and a scratch race. There will be a mid-race sprint that will score points 4 places deep, 5,3,2,1. There will then be a final sprint which will score points 6 places deep, 9,7,5,3,2,1. Highest total points scored wins the race. Scratch race rules apply for laps gained/lost, tie-break is the results of the final sprint.
WIN AND IN
The Win and In race is held over 15 laps. Sprints are held every 3 laps(for 5 total) and the winner of each of those sprints “qualifies” for the final sprint. Once the 15 lap portion of the race is completed and we have our 5 qualifiers, the rest of the field will leave the track and the qualifiers will receive 3 laps to go for the final sprint. Already qualified riders may win more sprints to race the finale against less competitors, in which case the results of the sprint at the end of the 15 lap regular race portion will determine the final places to score points towards the nights omnium.
The Point- A-Lap is tactically a nightmare event because it’s usually a medium distance event that doesn’t favor either style of rider. What makes it such a tough race is the leader of each lap, and only the leader, of each lap scores one point per lap. with the exception of the final lap, in which the leader earns 3 points, 2 for second and 1 for 3rd. Simple… the rider with the most accumulated points at the end wins.
Take the Point-A-Lap and have the points be worth more as the race goes on. Usually one additional point for the leader, and only the leader, per additional lap. In other words, lap one is worth one point and lap ten is worth ten points, etc. etc. Unlike the Point-A-Lap the snowball does not place three deep on the final lap. In the event of a tie between riders, the rider who places better in the final sprint breaks the tie.
Easiest of races. A predetermined amount of laps and the rider who comes across the finish line first on the final lap wins. Typically ran two ways. Very short and very fast races to “seed” riders for “Match Sprint” heats. However it can also be a very long race similar to NASCAR or INDY style car races which pits riders and teams against each other. Riders try to break away from the group while teammates try to slow down the field or make other teams work to catch the break a way rider. The scratch race can be a very raw fast event or a very tactical race.
The shortest group race that we do at the velodrome, the chariot is just one lap of the velodrome. Up to 7 riders line up side by side on the pursuit line, held by holders. When the gun goes, it’s an all out dash for the line amongst all of the riders. The two keys for this event are having a great standings start, and good top end speed to hold the front position all the way to the finish line.
This race is the shortest, fastest, and ironically the slowest event on the track. Often described as a chess match on wheels, the match sprint is a display of tactics and speed. Riders compete in a 3 lap race. Unlike sprints in running, cyclists do not have to remain in designated lanes and can use the entire track to maneuver for position. This enables them to take advantage of the tremendous drafting effect by riding in other riders’ slipstreams. For this reason Match Sprints usually begin very slowly until a rider makes a strategic “attack”. Some racers prefer being out in front to get a good “jump” on the competition. Others prefer being in second position, while taking advantage of the slipstream and saving energy until they make their move in the last few meters. To do this sometimes riders will come to a complete stop and “Track Stand”, which is balancing your bike without your feet coming off of the pedal or rolling backward, forcing the other rider(s) to come ahead of them and take the lead. Doing this makes the race sometimes the slowest race and at the same time very exciting. The match sprint is always a crowd pleaser. Sometimes Match Sprints are run on Tandem bicycles and is a very popular paralympics event.
More commonly called a Handicap race. This event, which is extremely popular in Australia, is a short distance race where the strongest riders give a lead to the less strong. Typically a national register of all riders “handicap “marks” is kept, and is regularly updated. The riders’ distances spread out according to their rankings from the best rider who is known as the “scratch”. The handicapper (promoter) is trying to make all the riders cross the finish line together in a “blanket finish”. All riders start from a standing start (A start where the rider is clipped in and held upright by a holder who gives a little push at the start to help the riders go faster) The race is only three or four laps as a rule, the riders desperately struggle to catch up with the “long markers”, or slower riders who are given the greatest head start from the scratch man
Racing behind a motorcycle sound like fun? The keirin is run usually in heats of 5-8 riders who follow a motorcycle that allows the riders to draft off of it. The pace gradually gets faster and with 1 1/2 laps to go the motor bike pulls off and the sprint begins. This race is very very fast and very very dangerous, with speeds easily approaching 40 mph! During the keirin riders jockey for position and will bump, head-butt or do just about anything to get the position they want. In Japan, keirin races are run with riders wearing shoulder, elbow and hip pads. The races are bet on and are so popular and so competitive that riders during large events have to be hidden from spectators to keep the riders from being bribed or worse. Only baseball is more popular.
Like the Scratch Race, the Unknown Distance is a race in which the rider who finishes first on the last lap wins. Except the “Unknown” has a small twist for no one knows, except the official, when that last lap will be. This is a very tactical race. You can gamble when the final lap will be and take a “Flyer” in which you break away from the field in the hopes that the bell will be rung while you are out in front. Some times riders, typically sprinters, will stay back in the pack keeping an eye on the official and allowing all the other riders to push the pace. Doing so allows them to get a running start on the rest of the field when the bell is rung and they shoot themselves around the other riders who are not up to speed yet. Both are very risky moves, but are very rewarding in you guess correctly. This is a very fast and exciting race.
MISS AND OUT
Easily the crowd favorite… this is an elimination race where the last rider on every lap is “pulled” from the race. The race takes place at the back of the pack, as one by one the rider whose rear wheel crosses the line last is eliminated. This can get hectic as riders fight desperately for position. This race is also known as “DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST” as occasionally a rider/riders like to play the “Devil”. The devil likes to stay at the back of the pack until the final few meters of each lap, then eliminating an unsuspecting opponent at the last moment. The race continues until there are only three riders left, and then a sprint to the finish.
WIN AND OUT
A very short and dangerous race, usually run as a full pack of riders who do a predetermined amount of laps to help jockey for position. The official then rings the bell and the rider who comes across the line first wins the race. During this time the official continues to ring the bell every lap so that the next rider across the next lap is second, next lap third and so forth. Riders sometimes try to guess where they should finish and “sand bag” or sit in until that lap. Reason being if you go for the win and fail, then you have to continue to sprint for the next lap and so on. Most times the rider who comes in second on the first sprint lap fails to place at all.
Usually the last and the longest race of the night, this is the endurance race on the track. The race is run a predetermined amount of laps with sprint laps every 5 or 10 laps. Riders sprint for points during a sprint lap. The bell is rung and riders sprint for 5, 3, 2, 1 points respectively. With it be the longest race, this is the best opportunity for riders with the most endurance to break away. And riders also race for laps in this event, because any lap(s) gained over the main field give any rider who gains a lap 20 extra points and takes away 20 points to any rider who is lapped. The rider with the most points at the end wins. This can be a confusing race to understand at first, but with a good announcer keeping track of things it allows you to get up to speed quickly. Veterans of track racing love watching points races.
The Madison is named after Madison Square Garden and is similar to the points race, except the field is made up of teams of two riders who don’t race at the same time. During the event one rider stays above the “Stayers” line (Blue line on the track) or hangs on to the side of the track while their teammate races around the track, when a rider wants in to the race or out of race for a breather, the one rider racing will come up on the other rider and “Hand Sling” him in to the race. The hand sling is literally slinging or throwing the other rider in to the race. Using a hand sling allows the new rider to get up to speed faster. Typically the team will have a sprinter and an endurance rider so the endurance rider will sling the sprinter hopefully in to the race on a sprint lap. Sometimes, however, riders can’t make the exchange and must continue for additional laps or try to sprint for points. In Europe this is one of the most popular sporting events.
PRIMES (Pre-mes) or PREEM
Riders will also be racing for “Primes” or races within a race. During any race the official will ring the bell once letting the riders know that on that lap which ever rider comes across first will be rewarded with some cash. Primes are a great way for riders to get a little extra in their pockets. Sometimes riders can make more money collecting primes then winning the race. The primes are spectator primes meaning the more fans we have the more money we will payout in primes to the riders. Spectators can also make a donation to the “Prime Fund” in which they can pick the lap and race they want to have the prime. (You can even be cruel by donating a series of back to back to back primes for a minimum of $30 and watch their faces as they fight it out for the extra money.)