What is a Velodrome?

A Velodrome is a purpose built arena for Track Racing. Modern velodromes feature steeply banked tracks, consisting of two 180-degree bends connected by two straights. The corner bankings are designed so that, at typical racing speeds, the inertia of the bicycles, the propulsive acceleration provided by the riders, and the gravitation force pulling them towards the bottom of the track are balanced. The bicycles then naturally follow the track around the corner at a constant radial position. This allows the riders to concentrate on matters such as race tactics rather than steering their bicycles significantly.

The track length is measured on a special line 20 cm up from the inside of the track. Olympic standard velodromes are minimum 250 metres in circumference. Other velodromes can range from 150 m to 500 m, although 333.33 m is popular.

The length of the track multiplied by a round number of laps or half laps should result in 1.000 m. Many older tracks were built around the outside of athletics tracks or other sports grounds and any banking on these was usually quite shallow.

The smaller the track the steeper the banking. A 250 m track would bank in a range around 45°, while a 333 m track would bank in a range around 32°. Velodrome tracks are surfaced in wood or smooth concrete; shorter and Olympic are wood, longer are concrete.

All tracks must have a standard set of markings:

-Between the track centre and the actual track there is the blue band (also called "Cote d'Azur"), minimum 10% of the track width wide. The blue band is not an official part of the track. Riders moving into this space in a race -attempting to make a "shortcut"- are disqualified.

-20 cm above the inside of the track is the black measurement line, defining the length of the track.

-90 cm above the inside of the track is the redsprinter's line. The zone between the black and red lines is the optimum route around the track, a rider leading in this zone cannot be passed on the inside, other riders are regulated to pass on the longer outside route.

-Minimum 250 cm (or half the track width) above inside of the track is the blue stayers' line. This line serves in stayer races (races behind pacemaker-motorbikes) as a separation line. Stayer-riders riding below the blue stayer line may not be overtaken at the inside. In Madison races the released team riders usually "rest" above the blue line cycling slow until the team-partner in the race comes around the track and pushes the idle-partner back into the race.

-The finish line is black on white and situated towards the end of the home straight.

-Red pursuit lines are marked in exactly the middle of each straight as start and finish line for pursuit races.

-A white 200 m line markes the distance of 200 m until the finish line.

While outdoor veldromes used to be the norm, new velodromes tend to be indoor venues, particuarly if they are to be used for high-level competition. A velodrome will usually be among the facilities constructed for major events such as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.