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Cycling – Track

Cycling on indoor wooden tracks has been popular as far back as 1870 when the first official competitions were held. These tracks ensured that cycling could be contested year-round without weather restrictions and closely resembled the modern velodromes used today. Velodromes used at the Olympic Games must have a track length of 250 metres with two straightaways linked by two steeply banked curves. Tracks must be designed to safely handle maximum speeds of 85 to 110 km/h.

Track bikes have no brakes and just one fixed gear, meaning the rider cannot stop pedaling. Riders stop by putting backward pressure on the pedals. To help reduce drag, riders wear tight skin suits and aerodynamic helmets. Track bikes also feature solid disc wheels and, for timed events, special handlebars to aid the aerodynamics.

Harnett , Curt

Track cycling was included at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It has been featured at every Olympic Games since then, with the exception of Stockholm 1912 when the only velodrome in the city was torn down to make way for the new Olympic Stadium. Montreal 1976 marked the first Games at which track cycling was held indoors. Women’s track cycling made its Olympic debut at Seoul 1988 with the introduction of the individual sprint. Track cycling has been a part of the Pan American Games program since the inaugural edition in 1951.


Keirin - Men and Women

The keirin is an eight-lap sprint race with six to seven cyclists on the track at one time. Riders begin behind a motorized pace bike which gradually accelerates until 2 ½ laps to go, when it pulls off the track releasing the riders to sprint all-out to the finish. The pacer accelerates from 25 km/h to 45 km/h in the women’s race and from 30 km/h to 50 km/h in the men’s. Competition begins with opening heats, from which the top finishers advance directly to the semifinals. Unsuccessful riders are given a second chance to advance through a repechage. Six riders advance from the semifinals to race for the medals.

Omnium - Men and Women

The omnium is a multi-discipline individual event in which cyclists compete in six different types of races over two days. Riders score points in each event and the winner is the rider with the most points at the end.
Day One:

1) Scratch Race (men – 15km, women – 10km): All riders start on the track at the same time with placements determined by the order in which they cross the finish line.
2) Individual Pursuit (men – 4km, women – 3km): Riders cover the race distance individually and the winner is the rider with the fastest time.
3) Elimination Race: All riders start on the track at the same time with the last rider over the finish line every two laps eliminated, leaving two riders to sprint for the win.</P
Day Two:

4) Time Trial (men – 1km, women – 500m): Riders cover the distance individually from a standing start. The rider with the fastest time wins.
5) Flying Lap (250m time trial): Riders cover the distance individually from a moving start. The rider with the fastest time wins.
6) Points Race (men – 40km, women – 25km): Riders earn points during the sprints (one sprint every 10 laps, awarding 5, 3, 2 and 1 point to the first four riders) and by gaining laps on the field (20 points awarded for each lap gained) . Points can also be lost by losing laps on the field.

For the first five events of the omnium, the winner is awarded 40 points, second place is awarded 38 points, third is awarded 36 points, etc. Riders ranked 21st and below are awarded one point. Riders begin the points race with the total number of points accrued through the first five events, then either add to or lose points from that overall total. Therefore the final omnium ranking will evolve throughout the points race.

Sprint - Men and Women

The sprint is a tactical one-on-one match race over three laps (750m). Two riders, competing side-by-side, pedal slowly over the first two laps, carefully jockeying for position until the final sprint to the finish line. A 200m qualifying time trial ranks the riders and determines the match-ups. The competition is then in knockout-round format, with best-of-three match-ups beginning with the quarterfinals. The semifinal winners race for gold and silver while the semifinal losers race for bronze.

Team Pursuit - Men and Women

The team pursuit is a 4000m match race between two teams of four riders who start on opposite sides of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. Teams ride in single file, with three riders drafting behind the lead rider who, when his or her turn on the front is done, swings up the track and drops to the back of the group. In a well-matched team, riders will lead for a half lap or a full lap at a time. A qualifying round ranks the teams against the clock and determines the match-ups for the second round. Only the four fastest teams from qualifying are in position to advance to the gold or bronze medal races from the second round.

Team Sprint - Men and Women

The team sprint is a matched race in which two teams begin on opposite sides of the track. Upon completing a lap, the lead rider of each team pulls up the track and out of the race, leaving the next rider to cover the next lap. The men’s race is three laps with three riders while the women’s race is two laps with two riders. A timed qualifying round determines the top eight teams and the match-ups for the knockout round. The four winning teams advance to the medal races, with the two fastest teams racing for gold and the other two teams racing for bronze.

Canadian Medallists







GoldLori-Ann Muenzer2004 AthensSprint - Women -
SilverCurt Harnett1984 Los Angeles1km Time Trial - Men -
SilverBrian Walton1996 AtlantaPoints Race - Men -
BronzeFrederick McCarthy, Walter Andrews, William Anderson, William Morton1908 LondonTeam Pursuit - Men -
BronzeCurt Harnett1992 BarcelonaSprint - Men -
BronzeCurt Harnett1996 AtlantaSprint - Men -
BronzeGillian Carleton, Jasmin Glaesser, Tara Whitten2012 LondonTeam Pursuit - Women -
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