Cycling Regulations

The practice of competitive cycling is widespread across the world. Throughout the years, new rules and concepts have been introduced to this sport to ensure a more detailed regulation. In this article, we'll review its rules.  
Cycling Regulations

Last update: 30 October, 2019

Cycling is a fairly traditional sport that’s become extraordinarily popular in the European continent and also in some American countries. Hence, it’s no surprise that many people show an interest in learning cycling regulations. This means that they can start practicing it with a greater degree of professionalism. 

In this sense, the first thing we must recognize is that there are different types of cycling. Some take place outdoors or on an indoor track, in a competitive or recreational way. Likewise, when we talk about competitive cycling, each category has its own international rules in place. It’s about orienting the criteria under which athletes compete.

Cycling regulations: categories and rules

In general, we classify cycling styles into two large groups: competition cycling and recreational cycling. The main difference is evident in the names themselves: one encompasses all the modalities that athletes practice for competitive purposes and the other refers to the practice of cycling for entertainment.

Competitive cycling: Olympic sport since Athens 1896

Competitive cycling includes various categories that athletes practice with different types of bicycles. Within each category, cyclists also train and compete in various specialties.

Since the first edition of the modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, competitive cycling has been considered an Olympic sport. However, for several years, only the track and road categories were disputed in the Olympic games

Originally, only men could participate in this discipline at the Olympic level. The female cyclists began to compete only during the 1984 Los Angeles Games (on track) and Seoul 1988 (on the road).

Cycling regulations: current categories

Today, they recognize nine competitive cycling categories:

  • Road cycling: athletes compete outdoors, usually on asphalt; although it may also include sections on other surfaces. In this category, we celebrate the most prestigious international cycling events, such as the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain, and the Tour of Italy.
Road cycling is the most popular form of cycling.
  • Track cycling: it’s practiced inside a closed stadium, known as velodrome (cover image), using modified road bicycles for the track. Within this category, teams and individuals compete in at least ten types of tests.
  • Mountain biking: includes four outdoor competition styles on natural surfaces. They are cross country, four cross (4X), downhill, and marathon.
Mountain biking takes place on natural surfaces.
  • Cyclocross: consists of performing a certain number of turns in a circuit that alternates sections on different surfaces; such as asphalt and meadows, with numerous obstacles (natural or artificial).
There are nine categories of cycling that are disputed in the Olympics.
  • Indoor cycling: it includes artistic cycling and cycle ball (a category inspired by soccer and adapted to bicycles).
  • Trial: its roots derive from the traditional motorcycle trials and comprise different categories; depending on the inches of the bicycle wheels.
Some categories depend on the characteristics of the wheels.
  • BMX cycling: it entails two styles, the first is the BMX Race, which consists of a race with curves and obstacles. The second is Freestyle, a competition involving tricks and poses with a 20-inch rim BMX bicycle, on either urban obstacles or ramps.
The BMX Race consists of obstacles and curves.

Competitions: cycling regulations

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is the world governing body responsible for regulating competitive cycling. It’s also responsible for certifying the application of the cycling regulations in international events of the different categories. Similarly, it represents cycling as a sport before the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Aligned with the cycling regulations established by the UCI, the RFEC (Royal Spanish Cycling Federation) is responsible for complying with the rules for the practice of each category of competitive cycling in Spain. It’s also responsible for the organization of official national or regional competitions.

At the international level, the RFEC is responsible for representing Spain before the UCI and the UEC (European Cycling Union) in all international sports activities that take place within Spanish territory and also abroad.

Continuing with the functions of the Spanish Cycling Federation, it’s their duty to choose the athletes who will represent the country in individual categories or in team competitions.

Lastly, they have the crucial responsibility of ensuring that athletes practice cycling in a safe and ethical manner. Therefore, they must prevent, identify, and proceed correctly in doping  cases, respond to road safety issues, and promote basic cycling in the country.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.