There are many different types of bicycle racing, including road bicycle racing, cyclo-cross, mountain bike racing, track cycling, BMX racing, bike trials and cycle speedway.
Road bicycle racing is the most popular type of bicycle racing. Racing typically takes place from spring through fall. Many riders from the northern hemisphere spend the winter in countries such as Australia, to compete or train. Pro Tour races range from the multi-day “Grand Tour” stage races such as the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España and the Amgen Tour of California to single day “Classics” such as the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Milan-Sanremo. Criteriums are races based on circuits typically less than a mile in length and sometimes run for a set time (60 min, 90 min, etc), rather than a specific distance. Criteriums are the most popular form of road racing in North America. In 2008, the Amgen Tour of California held its first Women's Criterium Race during Stage 1 of the men's race in Santa Rosa, Calif. In Belgium, Kermesses "a single day event usually 120+km in length" are particularly popular. Also popular are road races in which all riders start simultaneously, individual time trial and team time trial events are also held on road-based courses.
Cyclo-cross originated as a sport for road racers during the off season, to vary their training during the cold months. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (the international or World Cup season is September-January), and consists of many laps of a 2-3 mile course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to dismount, carry the bike and remount in one motion. Races for senior categories are generally between 30 minutes and an hour long, the distance varies depending on the conditions. The sport is strongest in traditional road cycling countries such as Belgium (Flanders in particular) and France.
Mountain bike racing is relatively new. It became popular during the 1990s. Mountain bike races are off-road and usually involve a moderate degree of technical riding. There are several varieties; the main categories are cross-country and downhill but also 4X or four cross racing. Mountain bike racing and riding needs wide knobby tires with a deep tread.
Track cycling encompasses races that take place on banked tracks or velodromes. Events are quite diverse and can range from individual and team pursuits or two-man sprints, to various group and mass start races. Competitors use track bicycles which do not have brakes or freewheels. The ADT Event Center (part of the Home Depot Center) in Carson, Calif. is the only velodrome in North America. In 2008, the Home Depot Center played host to oneo f the four UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics, the other three World Cup events took place in Sydney, Australia, Beijing, China and Bellerup, Denmark.
BMX racing takes place off-road. BMX races are sprints on purpose- built, off-road, single-lap tracks typically on single-gear bicycles. Riders navigate a dirt course of jumps and banked and flat corners. USA Cycling opened its new BMX training facility at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. in January 2008. The course Training Center in Chula Vista, in Chula Vista was built by Tom Ritzenthaler, who also built the BMX track that was used for the sport’s Olympic debut in Beijing this past August. The USA Cycling's training facility in Chula Vista is the only course that currently replicates the UCI Supercross style that Olympic athletes saw in Beijing. The course is also the only permanent Supercross structure in the nation.
Bike trials is a sport where riders navigate natural and man-made obstacles without putting down their foot, or “dabbing.” It is similar to motorcycle trials. Points are awarded for bike handling skills.
Cycle speedway is bicycle racing on short outdoor dirt tracks, 70-90 m in length.
Bicycle races are popular all over the world, especially in Europe. The most devoted countries are Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.