Regulated by the UEC (European Cycling Union), the European Track Cycling Championships are a collection of competition events for cyclists at the elite level that are held each year across all of the various distances and differences in track cycling. They are held solely for cyclists who are from Europe, and were held for the first time in their existing format in 2010 when cyclists at the elite level were allowed to compete for the first ever time after an overhaul was made of the European track cycling system. As is the case for most other major cycling events, the winner of any event in the championship is presented with a gold medal and a unique jersey which can easily be identified – in this case, a blue jersey featuring European gold stars. Currently, the United Kingdom are at the top of the Medal table, having gained 27 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 12 bronze medals since 2010.
Before 2010, there were championship events which were held under the name “European Track Championships”, however these were only for riders in the Under 23 and Junior age categories. The event which took place in 2010 was the first to be recognised as an elite level senior championship, and since that time there have been separate championships held in Europe for Junior and Under 23 category riders. Under 23 and Junior cyclists have been able to compete in European Track Cycling Championships for a long time, and they were an excellent source of experience for any young cyclist, with the winner qualifying automatically to compete in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships alongside the best track cyclists in the world, regardless of their age. There is also a European Masters Track Championship, which is held solely for cyclists who are aged over 35.
The Derny, Madison and Omnium Championships
The cycling discipline of “derny” or “motor paced” cycling has its own category and championships have been held in this discipline from as long ago as 1896, with a separate European Madison championship event also being run for men. Since 1959, a separate elite European Omnium Championship has been held, although this event was later included in the senior European Track Championship once it was introduced in 2010.
The Founding of the Elite Championship
During 2010, the European Cycling Union (UEC) commenced a major overhaul of the way in which cyclists were permitted to qualify to compete in the Olympic Games. Resulting from this, the European Championships were introduced, aimed at European cyclists who were competing at an elite level. The initial elite championship event following this overhaul was held in November 2010 and followed an identical 10 event schedule to that held during the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the addition of the Madison event thanks to popular demand. After the Elite Championship was introduced, the Junior and Under 23 championships continued to be held, but as a separate annual event.