Competitive cycling can be split into two broad categories – Road cycling and track cycling. Track cycling tends to focus on sprinting and intermediate race distances whereas road cycling tends to incorporate long races split into stages.
Cycling was actually one of the sports that featured in the first modern Olympics back in 1896. Back then there were just five events; a sprint, 10km, 100km, 12 hours and a time trial. Olympic cycling is now split up into a number of specialist events including the Keirin, Individual Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Individual Sprint, Team Sprint, the Madison and the Points Race.
Road races tend to be longer events split up into stages, with riders accumulating a lead over time. The three biggest road races in the world are referred to as Grand Tours. These include the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. In these races, cyclists compete on a daily basis, with cumulative times deciding who is the leader and eventual winner. The most famous of these tours is of course, the Tour de France. It is estimated that the Tour de France is biggest annual sporting event in the world in terms of both spectators and television viewership. American Lance Armstrong is the greatest Tour de France racer in history with a total of seven wins.