London 2012 Guide to…Track Cycling

BRITAIN’S domination of the track cycling events in Beijing has made this summer’s competition one of the most eagerly anticipated by Team GB and fans alike.

A return of seven gold medals out of a possible nine was a phenomenal achievement, led by Sir Chris Hoy, who claimed three of them in Beijing in 2008.

  • Speed counts

Of course, in most of the Olympic sports, it is the fastest man/woman who collects gold.

And cycling is no different, and speed really does count. Medals can be decided on split seconds, so riders use every possible method  (legally!) to maximise their chances on the track.

From shaving your arms to having no brakes on your bike, it’s all done to be as aero-dynamic as possible.

  • Tour de force

The French are top of the track cycling medal table, with a staggering 40 gold medals. GB lie in third behind the Italians who are second.

  • Track Cycling in London

188 athletes (104 men, 84 women) will take part in 10 medal events – five each for men and women.

  • The five disciplines

The Sprint: two riders race each other over three laps. Sounds simple but it’s all about tactics, as they both start off extremely slowly before unleashing an explosion of pace as they bid to outpace each other to the finish line.

Keirin: a seven rider race over 2km. The cyclists follow a pace-setting motorbike until 700m to go in the race. It is then a free-for-all leading to a frantic finale.

Omnium: a new event, where riders are assessed in six different categories. Points are awarded in reverse order, with the rider having the least obtaining gold. The six events are: timed flying lap, points’ race, elimination race, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial.

Team Sprint: a three lap race between two teams that each have three riders.  The teams start on opposite sides of the Velodrome and each rider pulls off until it’s a head-to-head for the final lap.

Team Pursuit: men’s teams are composed of four riders, while women are made up of three. The track distance is 4km for men and 3km for women. Teams start on opposite sides, so there are two ways of winning: either by overtaking your opponent or by finishing fastest. Sounds simple!

  • Ones to watch

Hoy and Victoria Pendleton lead the British contingent, and Hoy has backed Team GB to secure all 10 gold medals. 19-year-old Laura Trott is also one to keep an eye on, having won two world titles already at the world track championships.

Meanwhile, Aussie Anne Meares looks set to renew her rivalry with Pendleton, while France’s Gregory Bauge and Kevin Sireau, and the German trio of Robert Fostermann, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke will all attempt to stop British dominance.

And finally…

Look out for: broken pieces of record. Likely to be done.

Not to be confused with: those magnificent men and their flying machines. Sounds similar, but that was a film from the 60s…

Useless but informative fact: the velodrome is made from 56km of sustainable Siberian pine and was fixed into place with 300,000 nails.

Track cycling in two words: flippin’ fast.

The Track Cycling races take place at the Velodrome, between Thursday 2nd and Tuesday 7th August.

Do you think Sir Chris Hoy will dominate once again?

Leave your thoughts/tips below!

Follow me on Twitter: @jonathanl50