Cycling has always been popular as a sport. This is particularly true in Western Europe where the summer months are times where many road cycling events take place and in some countries, cycling is seen as one of the nation’s favorite sports. Cycling as a sport was once divided between the outdoor events and the indoor events. The outdoor events tended to test the stamina of the riders and were held over courses that covered many miles. The indoor events were held in velodromes and included more speed related events.
Various events still remain today but there has also been the introduction of Mountain bike races that are competed for over hilly and challenging courses. The bikes that are used are different from what the other racers use as they need to be sturdier to withstand the bumps that they encounter during racing. In recent years the popularity of cycling has risen in countries outside of Western Europe. As cycling has become more popular in general society after being is seen as a clean, healthy and environmentally friendly activity, the numbers of new star cycling athletes emerging out of these regions has increased.
One of the most famous races in the world, in any sport, is the Tour de France which is held over July each year for three weeks. The 21 different legs see the riders travelling back and forth across France, plus neighboring countries, until the riders complete the final leg by finishing alongside the Champs-Elysees.
The event is the ultimate test of endurance as the riders have to tackle leg burning mountain climbs plus long stretches of fast flat roads that extend for great distances. The teams go to great lengths to make sure their riders recover as quickly as possible, in order to prepare them for racing the following day.
For years, the winners of the race all emanated from the European countries, but in recent times the champions have included Greg LeMond from the United States and Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome from the United Kingdom. There are four riders who have won the race on 5 occasions with the 2017 winner, Froome, close behind with four wins. The velodromes have become the arenas of great excitement during Olympic Games. The track is banked with the teams assembled in the central areas. The bikes are modified for indoors with there being no brakes. The different events are all similar in that they involve the cyclists travelling at great speed.
There are a few athletes, such as Bradley Wiggins, who have been successful on both the roads and in the velodrome, but generally they do tend to specialize. The cyclists who compete in the velodrome are the sprinters and the physical shapes of the athletes are totally different from the road racers, as their bodies are built for power and not endurance.
The first World Cup for mountain bike racing was competed for in 1988 and this shows how recent the sport is. In 1996 it was added to the schedule of the Olympic Games and since then the popularity of the sport has risen. It is especially keenly contested by the young adrenalin seeking riders. The sport of cycling continues to evolve. There are now BMX events and cycle speedway and there is no doubt the cycling is as popular as it has ever been.