London Olympics. A guide to Track Cycling
After an Athens Olympic "gold rush" where the Aussies won 9 medals (5 gold), Australia was awakened by a British resurgence at the Beijing Olympic Games. The Brits won 14 medals to Australia's sole silver, and this Olympiad the stakes get even higher. As the Brits try to defend their mantle at the venue dubbed The Pringle, the Aussies aim to take back their track dominance. The London velodrome will host blockbuster battles every session, with the Aussies genuine medal contenders in all ten events on the program.
There are ten Olympic cycling events – five for men, five for women – in the Sprint, Team Sprint, Keirin, Team Pursuit and the Omnium.
Sprint: A one on one battle that’s all about speed and tactics. Riders compete to be the best over three racers per round.
Team Sprint: Two-man female teams sprint over two laps in this event.
Keirin: An eight-lap race where the riders are paced by a small moped called a derny. As the derny increases speed riders jostle for the best position behind it. With two laps to go the derny moves off the track and the sprinters race for the finish.
Team pursuit: An endurance event lasting 3km, with teams of three (for women) starting on opposite sides of the velodrome, and the aim is to catch the other team.
Riders take in turn to lead their team for around half a lap before moving to the back of the team to let a rider with fresh legs take the lead.
Omnium: Brand new to the Olympics and described as the decathlon of the velodrome. Six events are contested over two days meaning you need to be a strong all round cyclist to compete in this event:
- 250m Flying lap
- 20km Points race – points awarded for lapping the field and periodic sprint sections
- 3km Individual pursuit – like the team pursuit described above but with individual riders
- 10km Scratch race – like the points race but without the sprint sections
- 500m time trial
- Elimination race – the 24 riders race as a bunch and every two laps the last rider over the line will be eliminated.