The pursuit race is one of the most exciting types of track cycling, as well as one of the most popular. There are two different types of the pursuit race; individual, and team. We'll discuss both of them in this post so you can have a better understanding of this great race.
The individual pursuit race is the ultimate challenge for single riders. Two racers will line up on opposite sides of the track and start riding at the same time. The goal of the race is to complete 4 km (3 km for women) faster than your opponent on the other side. What makes this style of race particularly exciting is that if one racer catches up to, and passes the other racer the slower one is automatically the loser. Crowds go crazy when a racer is in hot pursuit of the other! Most of the time, the race will continue until the 4 km is complete for the sake of getting the highest qualifying time, or setting a record. Unfortunately, this race is no longer in the Olympics. It was abandoned by the IOC for the 2012 games in London.
Team pursuit is very similar, but much more hectic, than individual pursuit. Teams of four racers work the same distance, with the same goal in mind, but the fastest three racer's times from each team are what determines their overall time. If all three racers break it through the other team, the slower team loses the race. The teams will ride in a straight line to reduce the drag being placed on the riders in the back. Whoever rides in the front has to do the most work, and many times that racer will peel off of the pack towards the end of the race so his/her teammates can shoot forward with fresh legs. As you can imagine, this is very dangerous for a team of three or four riders to over take another team, but that is what makes these races so exciting! As of this writing, this race is still scheduled to be included in the 2012 Olympics.
Pursuit racing is the ultimate test of an individual rider's cycling abilities. It takes sheer strength and iron lungs to sprint for four kilometers straight, which is what makes this event so thrilling and special.