Cycle sport

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Cycle sport is competitive physical activity using bicycles. There are several categories of bicycle racing including road bicycle racing, cyclo-cross, mountain bike racing, track cycling, BMX, and cycle speedway. Non-racing cycling sports include artistic cycling, cycle polo, freestyle BMX, mountain bike trials, hardcourt bike polo and cycleball. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world governing body for cycling and international competitive cycling events. The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is the governing body for human-powered vehicles that imposes far fewer restrictions on their design than does the UCI. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association is the governing body for many ultra-distance cycling races.


Bicycle racing is recognised as an Olympic sport. Bicycle races are popular all over the world, especially in Europe. The countries most devoted to bicycle racing include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. [1] Other countries with international standing include Australia, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, United States and Colombia.


Cyclists in the 2021 Giro d'Italia
race. Giro d'Italia 2021, Stage 15.jpg
Cyclists in the 2021 Giro d'Italia race.
OP Grand Prix, a one-hour cycling competition in Porvoo
, Finland, on June 11th 2005 Borga rund.jpg
OP Grand Prix, a one-hour cycling competition in Porvoo , Finland, on June 11th 2005

The first bicycle race is popularly held to have been a 1,200 m (3,900 ft) race on the 31 May 1868 at the Parc de Saint-Cloud , Paris, France. [2] It was won by expatriate Englishman James Moore who rode a wooden bicycle with solid rubber tires. [3] The machine is now on display at the museum in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England.

The Union Cycliste Internationale was founded on 14 April 1900 by Belgium, the United States, France, Italy, and Switzerland to replace the International Cycling Association, which had been formed in 1892, over a row with Great Britain as well as because of other issues.

Since the rise of the Olympic Movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics, cycling has been a contestant event in every Summer Olympic Games. [4]


Road bicycle

Cycle-racing has a long history: French cyclists Leon Flameng and Paul Masson at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Masson flameng.jpg
Cycle-racing has a long history: French cyclists Léon Flameng and Paul Masson at the 1896 Summer Olympics.

Road bicycle racing involve both team and individual competition, and races are contested in various ways. They range from the one-day road race, criterium, and time trial to multi-stage events like the Tour de France and its sister events which make up cycling's Grand Tours.

The races typically take place from spring through to autumn. Many riders from the Northern Hemisphere spend the winter in countries such as Australia to compete or train. Professional races range from the three-week "Grand Tour" stage races such as the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España to multi-day stage races such as the Tour de Suisse and Tour of California, to single day "Classics" such as the Tour of Flanders and Milan–San Remo. The longest one-day road race sanctioned by USA Cycling is LOTOJA which covers the 206 mi (332 km) from Logan, Utah, to Jackson, Wyoming. Criteriums are races based on circuits typically less than a mile in length and sometimes run for a set time (60 min, 90 min, etc.) rather than a specific distance. Criteriums are the most popular form of road racing in North America. [5] In Belgium, kermesses are popular, single-day events of usually over 120 km (70 mi). As well as road races in which all riders start simultaneously, individual time trial and team time trial events are also held on road-based courses.

Track cycling

In many European countries, bicycle racing is a source of national pride: German Democratic Republic postage stamp depicting Tave Schur, 1960 Stamp - GDR 20 Pfennig - Road Cycling World Championships 1960.jpg
In many European countries, bicycle racing is a source of national pride: German Democratic Republic postage stamp depicting Täve Schur, 1960

Track cycling has been around since as early as 1870. [6] The riders competed on wooden indoor tracks that closely resembled the modern velodromes of today. Unlike road racing, which is dependent on environmental factors, indoor tracks ensure the sport can be competed all year round.

It encompasses races that take place on banked tracks or velodromes. Events are quite diverse and can range from individual and team pursuits, two-man sprints, to various group and mass start races. Competitors use track bicycles which do not have brakes or freewheels.


Cyclo-cross originated as a sport for road racers during the off season, to vary their training during the cold months. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the international or World Cup season is September–January) and consist of many laps of a 2–3 km (1–2 mi) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, and obstacles requiring the rider to dismount, carry the bike and remount in one motion. Races for senior categories are generally between 30 minutes and an hour long, the distance varying depending on the conditions. The sport is strongest in traditional road cycling countries such as Belgium (Flanders in particular) and France.

Mountain bike

The final stage in Australia's Tour of Gippsland climbing up "The Gap" to Omeo Tour of gippsland final stage.jpg
The final stage in Australia's Tour of Gippsland climbing up "The Gap" to Omeo

Mountain bike races are held off-road and involve moderate to high degree of technical riding. There are several varieties; the main categories are cross-country, enduro and downhill but also 4X or four-cross racing.


BMX takes place off-road. BMX races are sprints on purpose-built off-road single-lap tracks, typically on single-gear bicycles. Riders navigate a dirt course of jumps and banked and flat corners.

Cycle speedway

Cycle speedway is bicycle racing on short outdoor dirt tracks, 70–90 m (230–300 ft) in length.

Motor-paced racing

Motor-paced racing and keirin use motorcycles for pacing, so cyclists achieve higher speeds.

Gravel racing

The peloton of the Tour de France TourDeFrance 2005 07 09.jpg
The peloton of the Tour de France

Gravel racing is one of the newest disciplines of bicycle racing, emerging in the 21st century. For example, one of the premiere gravel races, Unbound Gravel, started in 2006. [7] Some precursors to gravel racing in its current form include road races like the Tour of the Battenkill and Boulder–Roubaix (named after Paris–Roubaix) which are road races with gravel sections. The distinguishing features of gravel racing include long distances, often 100 to 200 mi (160 to 320 km), and mass starts that include all categories of racers, similar to Gran Fondo rides. The bicycles and courses in gravel racing vary widely, from road bicycles with wide tires used on smooth gravel roads to bicycles that are similar to mountain bike used on courses that include technical trails.

Average speeds

Speeds achieved on indoor tracks are usually greater than those on roads. Other factors affecting speed are the route profile (flats and hills), wind conditions, temperatures and elevation. At a 2013 event in Mexico, François Pervis achieved an average of 21.40 metres per second (77.0 km/h; 47.9 mph) with a flying start over 200 m (660 ft). The top average speed over the men's 1 km (0.6 mi) time trial at the 2004 Summer Olympics was 16.4 metres per second (59 km/h; 37 mph) recorded by Chris Hoy. Average speeds clearly drop with increasing distance, so that over the 120 km (70 mi) Cootamundra Annual Classic it is 11.8 metres per second (42 km/h; 26 mph). In the 259 km (200 mi) 2010 Paris–Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara set a speed of 10.9 metres per second (39 km/h; 24 mph), while over the 818 km (500 mi) Furnace Creek 508, the speed drops dramatically to 8.3 metres per second (30 km/h; 19 mph). For an extreme road distance such as the 4,800 km (3,000 mi) Race Across America, the average speed of the record holder is 5.7 metres per second (21 km/h; 13 mph), while the 2,350 km (1,000 mi) Freedom Trail over mountainous terrain in South Africa is at a record speed of 1.9 metres per second (6.8 km/h; 4.3 mph).

Mountain bike trials

Mountain bike trials is a sport where riders navigate natural and human-made obstacles without putting down their foot, or "dabbing". It is similar to motorcycle trials. Points are awarded for bike handling skills. The first UCI Trials World Championships took place in 1986.

Non-racing disciplines

Freestyle BMX

Freestyle BMX is an extreme sport of stunt riding BMX bikes.

Artistic cycling

Artistic cycling is a discipline where athletes perform tricks (called exercises) in a format similar to ballet or gymnastics.

Cycle ball

Cycle ball, also known as "radball" (from German), is a sport similar to association football played on bicycles. The two people on each team ride a fixed gear bicycle with no brakes or freewheel. The ball is controlled by the bike and the head, except when defending the goal.

Cycle Polo

Cycle Polo is a team sports sport that combines elements of traditional horse polo with bicycling and is played on grass. Cycle Polo's was included in the 1908 London Olympics as a demonstration sport. The game has become particularly popular in India.

Hardcourt Bike Polo

After a Hardcourt Bike tournament Hardcourt Bike POLO fh 2018 tours fin de match.jpg
After a Hardcourt Bike tournament

Hardcourt Bike Polo is a more popular, fast-paced, and physically demanding variation of Cycle Polo played on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete. In teams of three, players maneuver their bicycles while using mallets to strike a ball into the opposing team's goal. Originating in Seattle in the late 1990s, hardcourt bike polo has since gained a sharp spike in popularity worldwide, [8] with organized leagues and tournaments held in urban centers across the globe.

See also

Related Research Articles

Motorcycle sport is a broad field that encompasses all sporting aspects of motorcycling. The disciplines are not all races or timed-speed events, as several disciplines test a competitor's various riding skills.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Track cycling</span> Bicycle racing sport

Track cycling is a bicycle racing sport usually held on specially built banked tracks or velodromes using purpose-designed track bicycles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Velodrome</span> Arena for track cycling

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. The straights transition to the circular turn through a moderate easement curve.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">BMX</span> Cycle sport

BMX, an abbreviation for bicycle motocross or bike motocross, is a cycle sport performed on BMX bikes, either in competitive BMX racing or freestyle BMX, or else in general street or off-road recreation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain biking</span> Bicycle sport

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, usually using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain, such as air or coil-sprung shocks used as suspension, larger and wider wheels and tires, stronger frame materials, and mechanically or hydraulically actuated disc brakes. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into distinct categories: cross country, trail, all mountain, enduro, downhill and freeride.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Derny</span> Motorized bicycle for motor-paced cycling events

A Derny is a motorized bicycle for motor-paced cycling events such as during six-day and Keirin racing and motor-paced road races. Some riders train behind a derny on the road. The Derny is so-called as it was originally produced by the French Derny firm, but the name Derny is now applied to all small cycle-pacing vehicles, regardless of manufacturer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Union Cycliste Internationale</span> International governing body of cycling

The Union Cycliste Internationale is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events. The UCI is based in Aigle, Switzerland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Simpson</span> British cyclist (1937–1967)

Thomas Simpson was one of Britain's most successful professional cyclists. He was born in Haswell, County Durham, and later moved to Harworth, Nottinghamshire. Simpson began road cycling as a teenager before taking up track cycling, specialising in pursuit races. He won a bronze medal for track cycling at the 1956 Summer Olympics and a silver at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyclo-cross</span> Form of bicycle racing

Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter, and consist of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Races for senior categories are generally between 40 minutes and an hour long, with the distance varying depending on the ground conditions. The sport is strongest in the traditional road cycling countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Road bicycle racing</span> Bicycle racing sport

Road bicycle racing is the cycle sport discipline of road cycling, held primarily on paved roads. Road racing is the most popular professional form of bicycle racing, in terms of numbers of competitors, events and spectators. The two most common competition formats are mass start events, where riders start simultaneously and race to a set finish point; and time trials, where individual riders or teams race a course alone against the clock. Stage races or "tours" take multiple days, and consist of several mass-start or time-trial stages ridden consecutively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of cycling</span> Bicycling terminology guide

This is a glossary of terms and jargon used in cycling, mountain biking, and cycle sport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain bike racing</span> Competitive cycle sport discipline

Mountain bike racing is the competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recognised the discipline relatively late in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships in Durango, Colorado. The first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series took place in 1988. Its nine-race circuit covered two continents—Europe and North America—and was sponsored by Grundig. Cross-country racing was the only World Cup sport at this time. In 1993, a six-event downhill World Cup was introduced. In 1996, cross-country mountain biking events were added to the Olympic Games. In 2006, cross-country mountain biking events became part of the World Deaf Cycling Championships for the first time in San Francisco, USA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cervélo</span> Canadian bicycle manufacturer

Cervélo Cycles is an American manufacturer of racing and track bicycles. Cervélo uses CAD, computational fluid dynamics, and wind tunnel testing at a variety of facilities including the San Diego Air and Space Technology Center, in California, US, to aid its designs. Frame materials include carbon fibre. Cervélo currently makes 5 series of bikes: the C series and R series of road bikes, the latter featuring multi-shaped, "Squoval" frame tubes; the S series of road bikes and P series of triathlon/time trial bikes, both of which feature airfoil shaped down tubes; and the T series of track bikes. In professional competition, cyclists have ridden Cervélo bicycles to victory in all three of road cycling's grand tours: the Tour de France; the Giro d'Italia; and the Vuelta a España.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UCI World Championships</span> Annual competitions determining world champion cyclists

The UCI World Championships are annual competitions promoted by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to determine world champion cyclists. They are held in several different styles of racing, in a different country each year. Championship winners wear a white jersey with coloured bands around the chest for the following year. The similarity to the colours of a rainbow gives them the colloquial name of "the rainbow jersey." The first three individuals or teams in each championship win gold, silver and bronze medals. Former world champions are allowed to wear a trim to their collar and sleeves in the same pattern as the rainbow jersey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Strade Bianche</span> Italian one-day road cycling race

The Strade Bianche is a road bicycle race in Tuscany, Central Italy, starting and finishing in Siena. First held in 2007, it is raced annually on the first or second Saturday of March. The name Strade Bianche stems from the historic white gravel roads in the Crete Senesi, which are a defining feature of the race. One-third of the total race distance is raced on dirt roads, covering 63 km (39 mi) of strade bianche, spread over 11 sectors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mixed terrain cycle touring</span> Method of cycle tourism

Mixed terrain cycle touring is the practice of cycling over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle. The recent popularity of mixed terrain touring is in part a reaction against the increasing specialization of the bike industry.

The definition of ultra-distance cycling is far more vague than in ultra running or in ultra-triathlon. Any bike race or ride longer than a century ride, which is 100 miles (160 km), is sometimes considered to be ultra-distance cycling. However, such events are relatively common, so using a longer distance to define the category is more useful, such as any race or ride that is longer than 200 kilometres (120 mi), 300 kilometres (190 mi) or even a double century, 200 miles (320 km).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cycling in Canberra</span> Means of transportation in Canberra, Australia

Cycling in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, is a popular means of transportation, sporting and recreational pass time. Commuting in the city is supported by an extensive network of urban cycleways and on-street bicycle lanes. As a city established in the 20th century, Canberra's development was heavily influenced by the automobile for much of its history. The popularity of cycling in the city has increased dramatically in the 21st century with growing awareness of environmental issues, government policy supporting active transport and investment in cycling infrastructure. This has led to the development of a strong cycling culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gravel cycling</span> Bicycle sport mostly on gravel roads

Gravel cycling, gravel biking or gravel grinding is a sport, or a leisure activity, in which participants ride bicycles mostly on gravel roads. Sometimes, specially designed gravel bikes are used; in other cases, any bicycle capable of covering the terrain can be used.


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