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Keirin Rules 101

What is Keirin?

An eight-lap sprint race with usually six riders on the track at one time. Riders begin behind a motorized pace bike which gradually accelerates from 30km/h to 50km/h before pulling off the track with three laps to go to allow an all-out sprint to the finish.


1. The Pivotal Start

The Keirin event kicks off with a rolling start behind a pacing motorized vehicle, commonly referred to as a 'derny'. Athletes ride behind the derny in positions determined in a pre-race draw. They must remain in these positions for the first lap.


2. Derny Exit

A pivotal moment arrives as the derny completes its lead-out laps. At a predetermined juncture, the derny exits the track, releasing the cyclists to deploy their accumulated energy in a sprint to the finish line. The timing of this transition demands precision and strategic acumen, testing athletes' ability to balance patience and explosive acceleration.


3. Restriction on Premature Moves

An Olympic Keirin race introduces a unique rule prohibiting premature overtaking of the derny. Cyclists must exercise patience, refraining from surpassing the pacing vehicle until it exits the track. This rule injects a strategic layer to the competition, requiring athletes to strategically position themselves for the critical final sprint.


4. The Sprinter's Lane

The Olympic Keirin track layout incorporates a designated sprinter's lane. Riders gain access to this lane during the final 200 meters of the race, marking the commencement of the final sprint showdown. Strategic positioning and tactical skill come to the fore as competitors vie for the advantageous inside line, setting the stage for the finish.


5. Contact and Fouls

While the intensity of Olympic Keirin racing often results in close encounters, the rules maintain a delicate balance between aggression and fair play. Stringent regulations govern excessive contact, pushing, or obstructive behavior, ensuring a level playing field and a safe competition environment.


6. Integrity of the Sport: Beyond the Track

Keirin is known as being the fastest and potentially most dangerous racing on the track. The event's commitment to fair play, adherence to rules, and respect among competitors, provides a careful balance of safety and spectacle.


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