In the Keirin up to 7 riders take to the track behind a pacer motorbike known as a derny for a race of 8 laps. As the derny gradually increases its pace the riders will jostle for position until with 2.5 laps to go to the finish the bike leaves the track, unleashing a frenetic bunch gallop for the line. Physical contact between the riders is the norm and crashes are a frequent occurrence in this exciting contest.
Keirin racing originated in Japan after the second world war where it was one of a restricted number of sports in which gambling was allowed. The sport remains a huge industry to this day in Japan. Keirin racing was introduced to the world championships for men in 1980 and for women in 2002. It has been part of the Olympic programme since 1996.
Positioning behind the motorbike is everything in the Keirin so expect to see the riders trying to muscle each other out of the leading position as the pace gradually increases.
Sir Chris Hoy is the reigning Olympic Champion in the Keirin, turning a sport that has traditionally been a highly tactical affair into a pure drag race, often simply outpacing his rivals from the front of the field once the motorbike leaves the track. If Sir Chris rides the World Cup in Manchester he’s sure to be one of the biggest draws for the crowd.