In its simplest form, a Scratch race is just a straight out race over a pre-determined number of laps to the finish and the first rider across the line wins. Scratch races are bunch races that start with riders riding slowly around the track, typically in single file for a ‘neutral’ (non-racing) lap before the starter blows a whistle to indicate the start of the race.
Riding as a bunch, riders take turns to lead the race and set the pace while rotating through the pack and positioning themselves according to their race strategy.
The pace will typically increase (or decrease) through the race until a final dash to the line determines the final placings.
- Warm-up races (Heartstarters) – usually 4, 6 or 8 laps, depending upon track length
- Club Races – usually 10 – 30 laps, depending upon track length
- Championship races – Juniors = 5-10km; Elite = 40km; Masters = 10-20km
Key Rules: Ride a straight line. If you want to swing up and let someone else take the lead, make sure there is no other rider sitting on your hip or coming up fast on your outside.
Tactics: The race seems simple enough, but exploiting your competitor’s weaknesses by maintaining a high pace; slowing the speed throughout and sprinting to the finish line; or using an opportunity to take a lap, all play a part of a rider strategy.
What to watch out for: A rider may choose to distance themselves from the pack and try to lap the field during the race – in which case, if and when they catch the bunch they will be deemed to have ‘gained a lap’ and they will re-join the bunch for the rest of the race. In this case, the final sprint to the line will determine the minor placings. Where multiple riders gain a lap, the order in which they cross the finish line will still determine the winner and placegetters.