Olympic Track Cycling History

Olympic Track Cycling has a long history: with the exception of the 1912 Olympics, track cycling has been featured in every Olympic Games. Track cycling is one of four types of cycling in the Olympics.

As early as 1870, indoor track cycling on wooden tracks was popular in England. These tracks-now known as velodromes-allowed cycling to take place year-round, regardless of the conditions outside, and the competitions drew many spectators.

In its Olympic history, track cycling has been broken into individual and team events. Individual sprint races cover approximately 1,000 meters, while individual pursuit races feature two riders going head-to-head; for men, the length is 4,000 meters, while women race 3,000 meters. Points races are endurance races of 40 kilometers in length; riders score point by lapping the competition and winning sprints during the race. Keirin, also known as Motorpace, features a small motorbike pacing the riders, and is much faster than the other races.

Team pursuit in track cycling pits two teams of riders against each other over 4,000 meters. Team sprints, run for 750 meters, take the best eight times in qualifying and goes into an elimination format, with the two best team times after eliminations going head-to-head to determine the winner.

While men have been competing in Olympic track cycling since 1896, the history of Women's Olympics Track Cycling is much shorter, having been added in 1988. For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, a new event, Omnium, will be introduced. Omnium is an all-around event with five different races: time trials, scratch races, individual pursuits, points races, and a second set of longer time trials. Men and women will race five different events in 2012: Omnium, Keirin, team pursuit, individual sprint, and team sprint.

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