Kind of sport
Cycling is divided into various categories. At the Olympic Games both track and road races are held.
SPRINT (men and women)
Because of the large amount of participants, qualifying rounds are necessary. The race begins at the starting line (no flying start) and after the start, two or three participants cover three rounds. The first 800 meters form a tactical game, in which the participants try to force each other to take the lead. This is achieved by cycling very slowly and sometimes even coming to a complete standstill (sur place). The explosive culminating sprint usually starts on the upper part of the curve. The time of the last 200 meters is recorded to determine the speed in the finising sprint.
That the 200 metre sprint can be incrededibly fast is made evident by the time of 10.40 seconds (69.23 km/h) which was set by the former East German Hesslich in 1980.
TIME TRIAL 1000 METER
From the start, this 1000 metres race is an individual race against the clock.
PURSUIT 4000 METER (men), 3000 METER (women)
Both cyclists start from the middle of the track, but on opposite sides. The winner of the pursuit is the one who passes his/her opponent or rides the distance of 4000 or 3000 metres in the fastest time. If a cyclist falls or has a technical problem within the first kilometer a restart will take place. Two cyclists compete for the first and second place and two for the third and fourth. Because of this, the times for the third and fourth place can be faster than for first and second.
Since 1992 this discipline has also been on the women's programme.
This race covers 50 km. A group of cyclists starts and every fifth round they can earn points. Double points are earned with a sprint in the 75th round and the end sprint.
In 1996 the points race for women is admitted to the programme.
TEAM PURSUIT 4000 METRE
This event covers the same distance and follows the same principles as the individual pursuit. With the team pursuit, team-work is very important and the four cyclists take turns in taking the lead.
ROAD RACE (men and women)
Since 1896, the men have been competing to clench a victory on the road. In the beginning, the distances varied between 84 and 320 kilometers. The last 12 races were all on a course of about 190 kilometers. Since 1984, the women have a road race which covers about 75 km.
In 1996 the individual pursuit on the road and the cross country on the mountain bike for both men and women are admitted to the programme.