Conquista - The Cycling Quarterly Issue 2 - Page 42

Keirin “racing wheels” began as a betting sport in Japan in 1948. Races are conducted over lengths of 1,600 metres for A3 ranked events to over 2,400 metres for the top graded events. Lots are drawn to determine starting positions for the sprint riders behind the derny, a motorcycle that paces the riders. Riders must remain behind the derny for a set number of laps. The riders start off riding at 25 kilometres per hour, gradually increasing to about 50 kilometres per hour. The derny usually leaves the track approximately 600–700 meters before the end. The winner’s finishing speed is around 70 kilometres per hour. 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 Keirin Association 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. 42