Home > Understand All the Attractions of the Cycling Competitions!

Attractions of the Events

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One of the attractive points of the cycling competitions is the sense of speed. This sport has countless highlights such as the thrill that keeps spectators’ eyes on the race until the moment the cyclists cross the finish line, the techniques of world-class athletes, teamwork and tactics. The more you know about cycling, the more interesting it all becomes, so we’ll introduce several highlights of the cycling competitions here as well as some interesting trivia.



Olympic Cycling Competitions

Four types of cycling competitions will be held at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: road, mountain bike (MTB), BMX (freestyle and racing) and track. With the exception of BMX, these events will be held in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Track Olympic / Cycling Track Race
Venue: Izu Velodrome (Japan Cycle Sports Center)

High speed races where teamwork and tactics can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Provided by Hideaki Takagi

The track races held at the Izu Velodrome venue are events with a history of more than 120 years stretching back to the 1896 Athens Olympic Games. The women’s event was added for the 1988 Seoul Games, and Keirin, an event that originated in Japan, was added for the 2000 Sydney Games.

There are six track races in total when including individual and team events.


Two athletes start the race simultaneously and compete to reach the finish line first. Key points in this event are the explosive sprint just before the finish line and the tactics leading up to it.


Keirin, a race that originally began in Japan, features seven cyclists racing six laps around the track as they compete for positions.


This race features four events (scratch race, tempo race, elimination race and points race) over the course of a single day. Points are tallied from all four events to determine the athletes’ final rankings.

Team Sprint

Teams of three cyclists (two for women) make three (two for women) laps around the track. The first cyclist leaves the course after completing his or her lap and the finish times recorded by the final cyclists determine team rankings.

Team Pursuit

With four-member teams, these athletes compete for the fastest team time as determined by when the third cyclist in each team crosses the finish line.

Provided by Hideaki Takagi

Madison (New Event)

Cyclists race in pairs to earn points. Watching one cyclist grasp their teammate’s hand and fling them forward for extra momentum is a can’t-miss experience.

Provided by Hideaki Takagi

Track Race Trivia

The bicycles used for the track events are very simple. Lacking even brakes or gears, cyclists use specialized wheels in some events. The competitors keep their feet fixed to the bicycle pedals as they race in order to pedal with as much power as possible.

Road Olympic / Cycling Road
Venue: Road Race – from Tokyo to Shizuoka Prefecture, Individual Time Trial – Fuji International Speedway and Surrounding Roads

Aiming for Mt. Fuji, the cyclists race through four prefectures in a full-scale race for the finish line.

Cycling road is a long-distance event similar to a marathon. The men’s road race is expected to take approximately six hours.

Road is divided into two events, the road race and the individual time trial.

Road Race

From the mass start, riders will cover a 244km course for men and 147km course for women as they compete for positions. This race is known for the detailed strategies devised by each national team to ensure their own ace claims victory.

Individual Time Trial

Cyclists start one by one, competing for the fastest time over 44.2 km for the men and 22.1 km for the women.

At the Tokyo 2020 Games road race, cyclists start in Tokyo, then race through Kanagawa and Yamanashi Prefectures before speeding toward the finish line at Fuji International Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Because of the distance and elevation gain involved, this race is expected to be the toughest in Olympic history.

Road Race Trivia

Average speeds during this approximately 250km road race exceed 40 km/h. Athletes’ speeds may decrease on the upward slopes, but the fastest speeds come on the downward slopes. Speeds may even reach 100 km/h when descending straight down a slope.

Mountain Bike Olympic / Cycling Mountain Bike
Venue: Izu MTB Course (Japan Cycling Sports Center)

A harsh endurance race with competitors cycling off-road.

Mountain bike has two events: Cross-Country with athletes racing around an off-road course competing for rankings and Downhill where athletes race across a downhill course competing for the fastest time. Cross-Country has been included in the Olympic Games.
In Cross-Country, all the athletes start together, race around the course and compete for positions at the finish line.

The course also features names taken from famous places and products in Izu.

To create a Japanese atmosphere, various points along the Izu MTB Course have been named for famous places and products in Izu such as Amagigoe (walk over Amagi Pass), Joren–no-Taki (Joren Falls), Karesansui (landscape garden) and Sakura-fubuki (falling cherry blossoms). The scenic views evoking images of Japanese gardens are another part of this course’s charm.

BMX Olympic / Cycling BMX(Racing and Freestyle)
Venue: Ariake Urban Sports Park (in Koto-ku,Tokyo)

BMX, to be hosted in Tokyo, is another new event where the Japanese are expected to perform well.

The BMX (Bicycle Motocross) with small 20-inch wheels has two events, racing and freestyle, the latter of which is a new event for the Tokyo 2020 Games.


Paralympic Cycling Competitions

Cycling competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will feature two events: track race and road. Athletes with physical or visual impairments are divided into classes depending on the type of impairment.

Classifications for the Paralympic Cycling Competitions

C Class Bicycle: two-wheel bicycle
For athletes with amputated, dysfunctional or paralyzed limbs.
B Class Bicycle: tandem bicycle (for two people)
For athletes with visual impairments.
T Class Bicycle: three-wheel bicycle (tricycle)
For athletes who cannot ride two-wheel bicycles due to impairments such as paralysis.
H Class Bicycle: handcycle
For athletes who cannot pedal with their feet due to spinal cord damage, etc.
Track Race C Class & B Class
Road C Class, H Class, T Class & B Class

Track Paralympic / Cycling Track Race
Venue: Izu Velodrome (Japan Cycle Sports Center)

Athletes race like the wind over the angled bank of this 250m circuit.

Provided by Hideaki Takagi

Just like in the Olympic Games, this race takes place on the 250m wooden bank of the Izu Velodrome. Athletes with impairments to their arms, legs or vision participate here, with speeds exceeding 60 km/h as they hurtle over the tilted bank with angles as steep as 45 degrees.

Track Race is divided into three events.

Time Trial

Athletes race across distances of 1 km or 500 m depending on their class, with final rankings determined by finish times.

Individual Pursuit

Also called the individual chase. The cyclists chase after a competitor from the opposite side in this 4km one-on-one race where the fastest competitor wins.

Team Sprint (Mixed)

Mixed three-person teams of both men and women start together. Each team’s first cyclist leaves the course after finishing the first lap, and the final rider on each team competes for the best time at the finish line.

Paracycling Trivia

For B Class, featuring athletes with visual impairments, a cyclist without visual impairments known as the pilot sits on the front seat, and a visually impaired athlete called the stoker (meaning someone who creates energy) sits on the back seat.
The tandem bicycles pedaled by two cyclists reach speeds exceeding 60 km/h.

Road Paralympic / Cycling Road
Venue: Fuji International Speedway and Surrounding Roads

The foot of Mt. Fuji will be the backdrop for these fierce battles!

The outdoor races in road take place amidst constantly changing, harsh climate conditions such as wind, rain, and heat. While there are some differences regarding class divisions and equipment, the rules here are basically the same as the international rules followed in the Olympic Games.

There are three road events held at the Paralympic Games. Cyclists compete in various classes determined according to the type and degree of impairment as well as the bicycles used.


Time Trial

Cyclists start one by one, racing around the indicated course for their gender and class, with each finishing time receiving a ranking.

Road Race

All the cyclists start at the same time and compete for positions. Since the cyclist at the front of the pack is slowed by air resistance, the competitors conserve their energy in the back until the race is decided dramatically in a brief instant.

Team Relay (Mixed)

Three-person mixed teams of men and women compete relay-style for the fastest time. Cyclists don’t touch each other to swap out in this event. Instead, when one cyclist crosses the line, the next cyclist starts.


Photo taken in 2016 © PHOTO KISHIMOTO

Photo taken in 2016 © PHOTO KISHIMOTO

Paracycling Trivia

The different types of handcycles

Cyclists with limited use of their lower body due to a disability use hand-operated bicycles called handcycles. Depending on the degree of impairment, there are two different types of handcycles: a type pedaled from a reclining position and a type pedaled with the knees raised. In addition, anyone with or without a disability can also enjoy using these bikes for recreation.