Keirin

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Not to be confused with Kirin (disambiguation). ‹See Tfd›
Keirin (ケイリン?)
ColwoodKeirin.jpg
Keirin in Colwood, British Columbia, July 2006.
Highest governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and JKA Foundation (Japanese Regulating Body)
Year Originated 1948 in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan
Characteristics
Type Track cycling
Presence
Olympic 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012

Keirin (競輪 / ケイリン?, [keiɽiɴ]) "racing wheels" is a form of motor-paced cycle racing in which track cyclists sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start behind a motorized or non-motorized pacer. It was developed in Japan around 1948 for gambling purposes and became an official event at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Races are about 2 kilometers long: 8 laps on a 250 m track, 6 laps on a 333 m track, 5 laps on a 400 m track. Lots are drawn to determine starting positions for the sprint riders behind the pacer, which is usually a motorcycle, but can be a derny or tandem bicycle. Riders must remain behind the pacer for a predetermined number of laps. Initially it makes circuits at about 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph), gradually increasing to about 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph). The pacer usually leaves the track approximately 600–700 meters before the end. The winner's finishing speed is around 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph).

Competition keirins are often conducted over several rounds with one final. Sometimes eliminated cyclists get the opportunity to try again in the repechages.

World championships[edit]

Keirin has been a UCI men's World Championship event since 1980 and a UCI women's World Championship event since 2002. Danny Clark and Li Na of China were the first UCI world champions. The 2013 men's and women's world champions are Jason Kenny and Becky James of the United Kingdom.

Olympics[edit]

Olympics Men's Champion
2000  Florian Rousseau (FRA)
2004  Ryan Bayley (AUS)
2008  Chris Hoy (GBR)
2012  Chris Hoy (GBR)
Olympics Women's Champion
2012  Victoria Pendleton (GBR)

Keirin made its debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney[1] as a men's event, after being admitted into the Olympics in December 1996[citation needed]. The women's event was added for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

A BBC News investigation, reported in July 2008, found evidence that following admission into the Olympics, the Union Cycliste Internationale required (in writing) the Japan Keirin Association to support UCI projects in "material terms"; over a period of time the association subsequently gave three million dollars to UCI in consideration of "the excellent relationship the UCI has with representatives of the Olympic movement."[2] Four members of the governing body were subsequently arrested in Tokyo.[citation needed]

Keirin in Japan[edit]

The entrance and grandstand at the Iwaki-Taira Velodrome in Iwaki, Fukushima.
Start of a race at Tachikawa Velodrome in Tokyo. Riders start from the blocks and pace up to speed behind the pacer, wearing purple and orange. A referee observes the start in the tower to the right.
During a race at Omiya Velodrome in Saitama, the nine racers form a line behind the pacer as they go around a corner.
Racers sprinting to the finish line in the last lap of a race at the Ōmiya Velodrome.

Professional cycling (競輪 keirin?) began as a betting sport in Japan in 1948, and has since become very popular there. In 1957, the Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai (NJS; also known in English as the Japanese Keirin Association) was founded to establish a uniform system of standards for the sport in Japan. Today keirin racing is regulated by the JKA Foundation.

Aspiring professional keirin riders in Japan compete for entrance into the Japan Keirin School. The 10 percent of applicants who are accepted then undergo a strict, 15-hours per day, training regimen. Those who pass the graduation exams, and are approved by the NJS become eligible for professional keirin races in Japan.

Japanese races for women were reintroduced in July of 2012, under the title of Girl's Keirin. Women were previously permitted to participate from 1949 until 1964. Like the men, the women must also undergo a strict training regimen at the Keirin School.

Champions from Japan[edit]

Koichi Nakano (中野 浩一 Nakano Kōichi?) was one of the first Japanese keirin athletes to compete outside of his native country, Nakano holds the best matched sprint record as a track cyclist at the UCI Track World Championships with a record of ten consecutive professional Sprint World Track Cycling Championship wins from 1977–86 against mostly western European pro track cyclists, although he never won the Keirin World Championship. At that time, many leading sprint riders were from the Eastern bloc countries and competed in separate "amateur" events.

Katsuaki Matsumoto (born 1928) is the all-time winningest professional keirin athlete with 1341 wins over his career (he retired in 1981 at the age of 53).

The current Keirin Grand Prix champion (2012) is Yoshihiro Murakami (村上 義弘 Murakami Yoshihiro?), a keirin competitor from Kyoto Prefecture.

Kazuya Narita (成田 和也 Narita Kazuya?), a keirin competitor from Fukushima Prefecture, is the defending champion (2012) of the six-day Japan Championship meet that is held every March.

This page (Japanese) lists all of the keirin athletes with over 700 career wins.

Typical race[edit]

Keirin races in Japan begin with the cyclists parading to the starting blocks, bowing as they enter the track and again as they position their bikes for the start of the race. Every participant is assigned a number and a colour for identification and betting purposes.

At the sound of the gun, the cyclists leave their starting blocks and attempt to gain position behind the pacer, a keirin bicyclist wearing purple with orange stripes. As the pace quickens, the pacer will usually depart the track with between one and two laps remaining, but the actual location where the pacer leaves varies with every race.

With 1½ laps remaining, officials begin sounding a bell or gong, increasing in frequency until the bicyclists come around to begin the final lap of the race.

The race is monitored by four referees, each located in a tower next to one of the four turns (referred to as corners). After every race, each referee will wave either a white or red flag. A white flag indicates that no infractions occurred in that area. A red flag, however, signals a possible infraction and launches an inquiry into the race. Judges then examine the race on videotape to decide if a participant committed a rules violation; if so, he is disqualified and retires from the remainder of the meet.

Keirin ovals are divided into specific areas: The two straightaways (homestretch and backstretch), the four turns (corners), and two locations called the "center", referring to the area between corners 1 and 2 (1 center) and corners 3 and 4 (2 center).

Rankings[edit]

There are a total of six rankings that competitors can obtain in Japanese keirin racing. SS is the highest ranking, followed by S1, S2, A1, A2 and A3. All new keirin graduates begin their careers with an A3 ranking and work their way up by competing in keirin events.

The color of the shorts worn by each keirin competitor indicates rank. Those in A-class (A1, A2, A3) wear black shorts with a green stripe and white stars. S-class competitors (S1 and S2) wear a red stripe instead of a green stripe. Those in the elite SS class wear red shorts with a black stripe, white stars and special insignia. Introduced in 2007, the SS ranking is assigned by the NJS every December to the top nine Keirin athletes.[3] These nine compete in that year's Keirin Grand Prix and retain their rank until the following December.

Distances[edit]

The distance of each race depends on gender and rank. For men, distances for those ranked A3 are at 1,600 meters, while all others compete at 2,000 meters. The finals of some of the top graded events are run at a longer distance of 2,400 meters. The season-ending Keirin Grand Prix is held at 2,800 meters.

All events for women are currently run at 1,600 meters. There are usually small variances in distance based on the size of the track.

Race grades[edit]

A race meeting at any given keirin velodrome in Japan is assigned a grade. The highest graded events are GP, GI (G1), GII (G2) and GIII (G3), reserved only for S-class riders. Underneath those are FI (F1) events, which are open to both S-class and A-class riders. The lowest graded events, FII (F2), are reserved for A-class riders.

The GP grade designation is reserved for the Keirin Grand Prix, a three-day meet held at the end of December for the year's top keirin competitors. The meet ultimately concludes with the Grand Prix race itself, which determines the annual Keirin racing champion.

As of December 2008, the nine competitors for the Keirin Grand Prix race are determined in the following order of priority:[4]

  • Winners of each of six GI events during the year (Keirin Festival, Japan Championship, Prince Takamatsu Memorial Cup, Prince Tomohito Cup, All-Star Keirin and All-Japan Selection),
  • Japanese medal winners of cycling events from the Summer Olympic Games, if they are held in the same year,
  • Competitors recommended by a Keirin selection committee,
  • Competitors that have earned the most money from finishing first, second or third in Keirin events during the year, and finally,
  • Competitors with the highest average race score during the year.

Also part of the Grand Prix meet is the Young Grand Prix, which is open to the best of those that have begun competing in Keirin within the last three years; it is the only Keirin race of the year in which both S-class and A-class compete in the same race. A new addition to the meet in 2012 was the Girl's Grand Prix for the sport's top female competitors.

Another prestigious event on the annual keirin racing calendar is the GI Japan Championship. Held every March over a period of six days, it is the longest single race meeting of the year.

Each of the keirin velodromes are generally permitted to host one event per year of either GI, GII or GIII designation. The remaining events at each track consist of a combination of FI and FII races for a total of approximately 70 race days per year. On average there is one GI or GII event every month and one GIII meeting per week on the annual calendar.

Top events[edit]

Month Grade Event Host Venue
February I All-Japan Selection
(全日本選抜)
2013: Matsuyama Velodrome, Ehime
2014: Takamatsu Velodrome, Kagawa
March I Japan Championship
(日本選手権)
2013: Tachikawa Velodrome, Tokyo
2014: Nagoya Velodrome, Aichi
April II Kyodo News Service Cup
(共同通信社杯)
2013: Fukui Velodrome, Fukui
June I Prince Takamatsu Memorial Cup
(高松宮記念杯)
2013: Kishiwada Velodrome, Osaka
July I Prince Tomohito Cup
(寛仁親王牌・世界選手権記)
2013: Yahiko Velodrome, Niigata
July II Summer Night Festival
(サマーナイトフェスティバル)
2013: Iwaki-Taira Velodrome, Fukushima
September I All-Star Keirin
(オールスター競輪)
2013: Keiokaku Velodrome, Tokyo
November I Keirin Festival
(競輪祭)
Kokura Velodrome, Kokura
December GP Keirin Grand Prix
(KEIRINグランプリ)
2013: Tachikawa Velodrome, Tokyo
December II Young Grand Prix
(ヤンググランプリ)
Same as Keirin Grand Prix
December FII Girl's Grand Prix
(ガールズグランプリ)
Same as Keirin Grand Prix

Race schedule[edit]

Keirin velodromes follow the same basic schedule of races when conducting a race meeting. On the first day of competition, the better keirin competitors are assigned to races of higher caliber, while others are assigned to low-caliber races. Keirin racers are guaranteed to compete on each day of the meeting unless they are disqualified from a race or retire from the meet for any reason - in which case alternate competitors are called up to fill in the lower-caliber races.

Below is a schedule of races conducted during a typical three-day FI event (open to both S-class and A-class riders).[5]

DAY 1

  • Races 1-5: A-class Preliminary (A級 予選 A kyū yosen?) (low caliber)
    • First four or five finishers in each race advance to Day 2 Semi-finals
  • Race 6: A-class Special (A級 特選 A kyū tokusen?) (high caliber)
    • All riders compete in Day 2 Semi-finals

After six races, S-class riders compete:

  • Races 7-10: S-class Preliminary (S級 予選 S kyū yosen?)
    • First three or four finishers in each race advance to Day 2 Semi-finals
  • Race 11: S-class Special (S級 特選 S kyū tokusen?)
    • All riders compete in Day 2 Semi-finals

DAY 2

  • Races 1 & 2: A-class General (A級 一般 A kyū ippan?)
    • First two finishers in each race advance to Day 3 Special
  • Race 3: A-class Selection (A級 選抜 A kyū senbatsu?)
    • First five finishers advance to Day 3 Special
  • Races 4-6: A-class Semi-finals (A級 準決勝 A kyū junketsushō?)
    • First three finishers in each race advance to Day 3 Final

S-class riders then compete to advance:

  • Races 7 & 8: S-class General (S級 一般 S kyū ippan?)
    • First one or two finishers in each race advance to Day 3 Special
  • Races 9-11: S-class Semi-finals (S級 準決勝 S kyū junketsushō?)
    • First three finishers in each race advance to Day 3 Final

DAY 3

  • Races 1 & 2: A-class General (A級 一般 A kyū ippan?)
  • Races 3-5: A-class Special (A級 特選 A kyū tokusen?)
  • Races 6 & 7: S-class General (S級 一般 S kyū ippan?)
  • Race 8: S-class Special (S級 特選 S kyū tokusen?)
  • Race 9: A-class Final (A級 決勝 A kyū ketsushō?)
  • Race 10: S-class Special (S級 特選 S kyū tokusen?)
  • Race 11: S-class Final (S級 決勝 S kyū ketsushō?)

Equipment[edit]

Mikashima Chaintug With NJS Stamp

As a result of the parimutuel gambling that surrounds keirin racing in Japan, a strict system of standards was developed for bicycles and repair tools. There are currently 50 velodromes in operation that hold races where annually over 20 million people attend and place bets amounting to over ¥1.5 trillion ($15 billion).[6] Since so much money is at stake, the Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai (Japanese Bicycle Association or NJS) - now under the JKA Foundation - requires that all keirin racers in Japan ride and use equipment that meets their standards. All riders use very similar bicycles, so that no rider will have any advantage or disadvantage based on equipment. In addition, all riders must pass strict licensing requirements.

Those who wish to race in Japan must attend the Japan Bicycle Racing School where they learn the necessary rules, etiquette, and skills. The school typically accepts only 10% of applicants. Those who pass final examination must still be approved by the Japan Keirin Association.[6]

All bicycles and equipment must be built within strict guidelines set by the NJS, by a certified builder using NJS-approved materials. The products are then stamped by NJS and only equipment bearing this stamp may be used. The NJS standard is to ensure that no rider will have any advantage or disadvantage based on equipment and does not necessarily relate to quality or standard of manufacture.[7][8] For example, 36 spoke wheels are allowed but not 32, although 32 spoke wheels are typically lighter, and frames must be built by a very limited number of approved builders.

NJS approved equipment often sells for more than comparable equipment because of its specific use, build requirements, and limited manufacturers.[7] Popular manufacturers include Nagasawa, 3Rensho, Makino, Kalavinka, Level, Bridgestone, Panasonic, Samson, Shimano, Nitto, Hatta, MKS, Kashimax, and Sugino.[citation needed] Because the NJS's main objective is supporting the Japanese cycling market, its bureaucracy is notoriously critical of foreign manufacturers attempting to enter the Japanese market. The Italian cycling equipment manufacturer Campagnolo has, though, received NJS certification.[8]

NJS-approved equipment is not required for keirin races outside Japan.

Betting[edit]

Bets that can be made on Keirin races include, but are not limited to:

  • Exacta (2車単 nishatan?) - selecting the first two finishers in exact order
  • Quinella (2車複 nishafuku?) - first two finishers in any order
  • Trifecta (3連単 sanrentan?) - first three finishers in exact order
  • Trio (3連複 sanrenpuku?) - first three finishers in any order
  • Quinella Place, or WIDE (ワイド waido?) - selecting two to finish in the top three, in any order.

Some wagers cannot be placed if there are a smaller number of competitors in the race.

During major race meets, some jackpot wagers are offered:

  • Dokanto! 4 two[9] - Selecting the first and second place finisher in each of the last four races of the day.
  • Dokanto! 7[10] - Selecting the winner of each of the last seven races of the day.

The money bet into the Dokanto wagers can carry over if there are no winning tickets, even to subsequent race meets at another velodrome in the country.

In extraordinary circumstances, races have been declared no-contests, forcing velodromes to refund millions of yen in bets. Such results are generally known as a failure (不成立 fuseiritsu?). A race at Shizuoka velodrome on January 2, 2008 was declared a failure when the back wheel of the pacer's bicycle nicked the bicycle of an actual competitor, causing him to fall.[11] In a race at Iwaki-Taira Velodrome on December 14, 2008, separate infractions resulted in the disqualification of the entire field; all but one of the competitors were handed a one-year suspension by the velodrome after the race.[12][13] The suspensions were lifted four months later.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cycling Track Equipment and History". Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Cycling cash linked to Olympics". BBC News. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Cyclists" (in Japanese). Keirin.jp. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "『KEIRINグランプリ08【GP】』出場予定選手の決定について" keirin.jp (Japanese), accessed December 9, 2008
  5. ^ "平成24年7月(平成24年6月30日節初日)からFI開催のレース数が変更となります" (in Japanese). keirin.jp. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "History of Keirin Racing". Keirin Cycle Culture. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Gordan Wilson, David (April 1, 2004). Bicycling Science. The MIT Press; 3 edition. ISBN 978-0-262-73154-6. 
  8. ^ a b Fritz, Yokota (November 21, 2006). "NJS: Nihon Jitensha Sinkokai". Cyclelicio.us. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Dokanto! 4 two(ドカント フォートゥー)とは?" (in Japanese). keirin.jp. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Dokanto! 7 (ドカント セブン)とは?" (in Japanese). keirin.jp. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  11. ^ Race Results: Shizuoka - Race 9 - January 2, 2008 keirin.jp (Japanese), accessed December 29, 2008
  12. ^ Race Results: Iwaki-Taira - Race 10 - December 14, 2008 keirin.jp (Japanese), accessed December 29, 2008
  13. ^ いわき平競輪で9人全員失格... 前代未聞の珍事ナゼ? zakzak.co.jp (Japanese), accessed December 29, 2008

External links[edit]