Track cycling can be traced back to the 19th century, making its Olympic debut at the inaugural games in 1896. Initially conducted on indoor wooden courts, the sport has evolved and events now take place in velodromes, which are arenas designed specifically for track cycling that include very steep circular turns. Track cycling events tend to draw large crowds given that they involve high-speed races and exceptionally strong athletes.
Cycling tracks must be extremely durable in order to withstand the constant thumping from racing bikes and maintain the steep oval shape that makes races so challenging. While track cycling bikes lack many of the features possessed by traditional bikes (i.e. no brakes or gears), they are much heavier and engineered to reach extreme speeds. Due to high speeds making it easy to lose control of the bikes, riders tend to use shoes with extremely stiff soles in order to maintain a strong grip on the pedals.
Track cyclists tend to be in peak physical condition. Whereas there was greater emphasis on riders having a muscular build in the early days of track cycling, courses tend to be longer nowadays and require riders to possess lean muscle and cardiovascular strength.
The sport can be broken down into two different divisions, sprint events, and endurance events. Both types of events have an individual component and a team/relay component. Sprint events tend to involve fewer laps and an emphasis on speed throughout the race while endurance events require more laps and reaching high speeds in bursts.