In cycling, a sprint involves two opponents engaged in a race against each other. Contested over 1000 meters for men and 750 meters for women, cyclists are not principally concerned with beating a certain time. Rather, cyclists employ a number of strategies designed to beat their opponent. Unlike other sprinting events, there are no lanes and only the last 200 meters are timed. It is common to see a cyclist who was trailing the whole race actually pull ahead and win in the last few meters. The sprint in cycling is a unique sporting event that relies on not only speed, but it also forces cyclists to employ tactical strategies in order to gain the advantage and win the race.
One of the strategies that riders frequently employ is moving into the slipstream. Slipstreaming involves the trailing cyclist riding right behind the lead cyclist. This reduces the wind resistance of the second rider allowing them to expend less energy. The cyclist is then able to ride harder in the final 200 meters because they did not overly exert themselves earlier in the race. Another tactic that cyclists employ is known as hugging the track. Within the final 200 meters, the lead rider will ride extremely close to the sprint line forcing the trailing cyclist to travel a longer distance to the finish line.
The sprint begins with a 200 meter qualifying time trial. Each cyclist attempts to have the fastest time in order to qualify. The riders are then seeded according to their speeds with the faster rider becoming the number one seed and the slowest rider becomes the 32nd seed. The riders then compete in a series of elimination races until the victor emerges.
The sprint is one of the more original cycling events. Although the way sprint cyclists compete is seemingly counterintuitive, the strategic elements make it a compelling cycling event.