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Watching track cycling at the olympics, I noticed three lines on the track. From inner to outer, they are colored in black, red and blue.

track cycling race

What is the meaning of these lines?

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The black line, officially called the "datum line", is marked 20 cm above bottom of the track serves two purposes:

  • It is the point at which the track actually measures the reference distance of 250m.
  • It acts as a handy guide for riders riding with their heads down that "you're pretty close to the bottom of the track now, you might want to think about not going any lower".

The red line, the "sprinter's line", applies only in sprint races: when an overtaking maneouvre occurs, one rider must be below the red line and the other above it until the overtake has completed (slightly simplified).

The blue line, the "stayer's line", applies only in the Madison, a discipline where riders "tag" in and out as a pair. The inactive rider remains above the line until they swap with their partner.

Source: mostly British Cycling's jargon buster.

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