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Introduction

Tro-Bro Léon racing, 2009

Cycling, also called biking or bicycling, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, exercise or sport. People engaged in cycling are referred to as "cyclists", "bikers", or less commonly, as "bicyclists". Apart from two-wheeled bicycles, "cycling" also includes the riding of unicycles, tricycles, quadracycles, recumbent and similar human-powered vehicles (HPVs).

Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number approximately one billion worldwide. They are the principal means of transportation in many parts of the world.

Cycling is widely regarded as a very effective and efficient mode of transportation optimal for short to moderate distances.

Bicycles provide numerous benefits in comparison with motor vehicles, including the sustained physical exercise involved in cycling, easier parking, increased maneuverability, and access to roads, bike paths and rural trails. Cycling also offers a reduced consumption of fossil fuels, less air or noise pollution, and much reduced traffic congestion. These lead to less financial cost to the user as well as to society at large (negligible damage to roads, less road area required).By fitting bicycle racks on the front of buses, transit agencies can significantly increase the areas they can serve.

Among the disadvantages of cycling are the requirement of bicycles (excepting tricycles or quadracycles) to be balanced by the rider in order to remain upright, the reduced protection in crashes in comparison to motor vehicles, often longer travel time (except in densely populated areas), vulnerability to weather conditions, difficulty in transporting passengers, and the fact that a basic level of fitness is required for cycling moderate to long distances.

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Nicole Cooke Geelong World Cup 2007 podium 1.jpg
The women's road race was one of the cycling events at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. It took place on 10 August 2008, featuring 66 women from 33 countries. It was the seventh appearance of an Olympic women's road race event and featured a longer course than any of the previous six races. The race was run on the Urban Road Cycling Course (one of Beijing's nine temporary venues), which is 102.6 kilometres (63.8 mi) in its entirety. Including a second lap around the 23.8 km (14.8 mi) final circuit, the total distance of the women's race was 126.4 km (78.5 mi), less than half the length of the men's race.

Heavy rain during most of the race made conditions difficult for the competitors. A group of five broke away during the final lap and worked together until the final sprint, where Nicole Cooke won the race. Cooke earned Great Britain's first medal at these Games and 200th Olympic gold medal overall. Emma Johansson of Sweden and Tatiana Guderzo of Italy, finishing second and third place with the same time as Cooke, received silver and bronze medals respectively.

The race marked the first positive drug test of the 2008 Olympic Games, by María Isabel Moreno of Spain. She was scheduled to compete in this event and the time trial to follow, but left Beijing on 31 July, before the race. The International Olympic Committee said on 11 August that she had tested positive for EPO. This left 66 cyclists to compete, one fewer than in 2004.

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Sleeping man in Ouagadougou.jpg

A sleeping cyclist in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Photo credit: Roman Bonnefoy

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Ellen van Dijk
Eleonora "Ellen" van Dijk (born 11 February 1987 in Harmelen) is a Dutch professional road and track racing cyclist riding for Velocio–SRAM Pro Cycling. Van Dijk is a time trial specialist and became 2008 World Track Champion in the scratch race and 2012 Road World Champion in team time trial.

Van Dijk started as a speed skater and as part of her skating training she undertook cycling as part of cross-training in summer. She excelled at both, competing nationally at junior level. After becoming a national cycling champion for the fifth time in 2007, she quit speed skating and became a full-time cyclist. Along with her world title successes, Van Dijk has also twice been European track champion, twice European time trial champion and has won five world cup races. In 2012 she competed in three disciplines at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she helped Marianne Vos win the gold medal in the road race, finished eighth in the time trial and sixth in the team pursuit.

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Miguel Indurain, whose record of five consecutive Tours de France Armstrong broke

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