Cycling: The Essentials
Last Updated: Monday, September 13, 2010 | 4:41 PM ET
By Jesse Campigotto, CBC Sports
Two out of three ain't bad, whether you're a hefty '70s rocker or a cyclist at the Commonwealth Games.
None of the three cycling disciplines — mountain, road and track — is mandatory, but Delhi organizers chose to include the latter two, marking the 18th straight time that cycling has appeared on the Commonwealth program.
Like tennis and athletics, the cycling competition in Delhi will be weakened by the absence of some top potential contenders. Track ace Chris Hoy of Scotland, a triple gold medallist in Beijing and a many-times world champion, is out, along with English sprinter Victoria Pendleton. Same for some top road racers, including Australia's Cadel Evans and Canada's Ryder Hesjedal. The Victoria native, who finished seventh at this year's Tour de France, declined the Canadian Cycling Association's invitation for personal reasons.
The Delhi program consists of 14 track events (eight for men and six for women) and four road events (the mass start and time trial for both men and women).
Track races will be held on the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex velodrome — an indoor 250-metre oval track with steeply banked ends. The road events will use the streets of New Delhi and the Noida Express Highway.
Road races are pretty straightforward. Track races … not so much. So here's a quick look at the different track events:
- Individual pursuit: An endurance event in which two riders start on opposite sides of the track. In qualifying, the fastest overall times advance; in knockout rounds, the winner of each matchup advances. If a rider overtakes his opponent, he automatically moves on.
- Time trial: A sprint event in which riders compete solo to post the fastest time. The men's distance is 1,000 metres (four laps), while the women's is 500m.
- Points race: A mass-start endurance event held over a long distance (40km for men, 25 for women) in which a sprint is held every 10 laps, with points going to the top four finishers each time (5, 3, 2, 1). Lapping the main field is worth a big 20 points. Most points at the end of the race wins.
- Keirin: A Japanese-invented mass-start sprint in which riders follow a pace bike until it peels off the track and they sprint for the finish. The top riders advance to the next round.
- Sprint: Two riders start next to each other. First to the finish line advances.
- Team pursuit: Similar to the individual pursuit, except with teams of four riders. The team with the fastest No. 3 rider wins, so depth matters.
- Scratch race: A mass-start (everyone begins from scratch, hence the name) endurance event with a very simple format: first to the finish wins.
- Team sprint: Like the team pursuit, except with teams of three for men and two for women. At the end of the fist lap, the lead rider peels off. Ditto for the second, leaving the third rider to complete the final lap on his own. Fastest time wins.
Tara Whitten (Canada): The versatile Edmontonian was a double gold medallist at this year's track cycling world championships in Denmark, where she won the points race and the omnium (a gruelling decathlon-like event that's not part of the Commonwealth Games). Whitten, 30, won all six events she entered at the Canadian track cycling championships in late August, and she'll compete in all six women's track races in Delhi. Joining Whitten is top Canadian women's sprinter Monique Sullivan, a quadruple gold medallist at nationals and Whitten's partner in the team sprint.
Zach Bell (Canada): The 27-year-old from Watson Lake, Yukon, won the omnium, individual pursuit, points race and scratch race at the track nationals. He'll show his versatility in Delhi by competing in the points and scratch races along with both road events. Calgary's Travis Smith, winner of three events at the track nationals, is Canada's best men's sprinter.
Day 1 (Oct. 4)
- Women's 500m time trial.
- Men's 1000m time trial.
- Men's 4000m individual pursuit.
Day 2 (Oct. 5)
- Women's 25km points race.
- Women's team sprint.
- Men's Keirin.
- Men's 40km points race.
Day 3 (Oct. 6)
- Women's 10km scratch race.
- Men's 4000m team pursuit.
- Women's sprint.
- Men's sprint.
Day 4 (Oct. 7)
- Women's 3000m individual pursuit.
- Men's team sprint.
- Women's 20km scratch race.
Day 7 (Oct. 10)
- Men's 167km road race.
- Women's 100km road race.
Day 10 (Oct. 13)
- Men's 40km individual time trial road race.
- Women's 29km individual time trial road race.