There are a number of different types of track cycling events, each with very particular rules and techniques:
Sprint (men and women)
The sprint is a short-distance event in which two or more riders cover three laps. Only the final 200m is timed. Riders need strength and speed, as well as an awareness of tactics as riders will change their speed to try and feint or surprise their opponent.
Keirin is a Japanese version of the traditional sprint, created in the 1940s. Riders compete over a distance of 2000m. Riders need to have endurance, speed and tactical ability in equal measure. For the first 1400m, the pace of the field is controlled by a special motorised pace bike, and the riders jostle for position before they are released for the final 600m sprint to the line.
Team sprint (men)
In the team sprint, two teams of three riders compete against each other and the clock over three laps. The first and second riders alternate positions at the head of the field to control the pace until the final lap, when the final rider - invariably a time-trial specialist - finishes the race.
Individual pursuit (men 4km / women 3km)
The individual pursuit is a pure endurance race, with riders attempting to post the fastest time over a set distance.
Two riders are on the track at the same time, and if one rider overtakes his opponent, then he is declared the winner even if the full distance of the race has not been competed. As well as good stamina, endurance cyclists need good posture to ensure they have as sleek an aerodynamic profile as possible.
Points race (men 40km / women 25km)
The points race is a series of points-awarding sprints. It requires tactical awareness as well as stamina and speed, as riders work out how hard to push, based on their score. Sprints take place every 10 laps, with the first four riders getting points (5,3,2,1) each time and at the overall finish.
A rider is awarded 20 extra points if he laps the field, while riders losing a lap have 20 points deducted. If points are tied the winner of the final sprint is the victor.
Madison 50km (men)
This team event is named after the six-day races held at New York's Madison Square Gardens from 1899. Opposing teams are made of of two riders, who work together to score points in a series of sprints every 20 laps.
Only one rider from each team races at a time, with their partner cruising at the top of the banking, ready to be 'tagged' into action called a 'hand sling', in which the racing cyclist propels his team-mate up to speed. The victor is determined by distance covered, with points helping decide in the event of a tie.
Team pursuit (men)
Teams of four endurance cyclists compete in the team pursuit - one of the most tactical events in track cycling. The four riders circulate as a pack, with the leader having to ride fast enough to set a competitive pace, while not tiring his team out or leaving his team-mates behind.
The leader is cycled on a regular basis, so that a fresh pair of legs can set the pace, while the old leader can drop to the back of the pack and benefit from the lack of aerodynamic turbulence to regain his strength. Teams compete against each other on opposite sides of the track. The aim is to record the fastest time or catch the rival team.