As my primary role with Cycling Canada has been with the track team, I spend a LOT of time in a velodrome during training in LA, camps abroad and of course competitions. When I return to clinic, many patients like to ask about the athletes, and how we are looking as a team for the Olympics. Well Zach's ranked well in the Omnium and our Women's Team pursuit has come MILES to win a medal at World Champs.... most patients smile as the pretend to know what the heck I am talking about. So I thought I would do a little blog to explain WHAT the Track Cycling Events are in the Olympics. This is quite relevant even if you DO know about track cycling as this year in the Olympics, they have a bit of a new format so some of the events from the last Olympics in Beijing have been removed or changed a bit. There are some new events and opportunities for the women athletes and some of the longer, yet exciting events have been removed. I will attempt to clarify some of these confusing races and make your Olympic Track Cycling viewing experience a pleasure!!!
MEN'S & WOMEN'S OMNIUM
|Zach Bell, happy after winning a Omnium silver medal at the World Championships in Melbourne 2012|
The omnium is made up of 6 events and is disputed over two consecutive days. The final classification is established by adding up the finishing places in each event. The winner is the rider who has the lowest total. This event tests track cyclists versatility as there are a few endurance events but also sprint events. Canada has two very good athletes who compete at this race, Zach Bell who won a silver medal at this years (2012) World Championships and Tara Whitten, who has been the World Champion in the Omnium twice.
Omnium Events are:
*Flying Lap- rolling start, 1 lap of the track
*Points Race- (w-20K, m-30K)- strategic ride where riders gather points at "bell lap" to win race
*Elimination Race- bunch race start, every two laps the last rider is eliminated, last one standing wins
*Individual Pursuit (w-3K, m-4K)- single rider on the track timed event.
*Scratch Race- bunch race where the first rider to cross the line wins (can lap the group)
*Time Trial- (w-500M, m-kilo)- traditional sprinters events, from a standing start
|Zach Bell faces opponent Ben Swift at the London World Cup who is on the opposite side of the track.|
|Women's Team pursuit in Action in the London Test event, riding ever so closely!|
This is a true test of technique and teamwork. Four cyclists (3 cyclists for women) line up and their success relies on how well they work together. The rider on the front must keep the pace as high as possible but not ride so fast that they surge away from their team mates. The cyclists must ride as close as possible to the rear wheel of the rider in front of them to gain every possible aerodynamic benefit but make sure they don’t touch wheels. The riders swing up the track at the end of their ‘turn’ on the front leaving the next rider to set the pace. The time is taken on the front wheel of the third rider across the line. On the women's side, we have a very competitive team that has won bronze at the world Championships in Melbourne, and also at the Olympic test event in London. GB and AUS have broken the world record at the last TWO world cup races as this will be the first time for this event for the Women in the Olympics.
|Women's Team Pursuit after their Bronze Medal at 2012 World Championships|
The sprint is one of the oldest cycling events making its first appearance at World Championships in Chicago in 1893. It is a classic short distance event in which usually two riders cover three laps. Only the final 200 metres is timed and the winner is the first across the line. Sprinters must be strong and fast but the key to success is tactics. Sudden and dramatic changes in pace, "trackstand" attempts and "fakeouts" are typical ways to try and outwit an opponent. Riders obtain a seeding through the qualifying 200 metre flying time trial and from then on race head to head. It's one of the most popular for track cycling fans and big names like Sir Chris Hoy from Great Britian and the German riders are sure to entertain.
|Sir Chris Hoy of GB performs a track stand while keeping an eye on his opponent on the track below him.|
Keirin was created in the 1940’s and is the Japanese version of the traditional sprint event. Up to seven riders compete over 2000m. A special motorised bike called a derny leads the field for the first 5½ laps starting at 30km/h and bringing the riders up to a speed of 50km/h (25km/h to 45km/h for women). Cyclists manoeuvre for the best position before the derny leaves the track. Then the battle of strength, speed and courage begins. This is the race where the most crashes are seen and is a very exciting race for spectators to watch as cyclists find the tiniest of spaces to squeeze through to beat their opponents to the line! Monique Sullivan from Calgary is Canada's rising star in the Women's Keirin, and could be competing in the Olympics to represent Canada!
This is a must watch video of the Keirin from the 2012 World Championships!
The team sprint is where teams of 3 riders (2 for women) use each other to draft to have the fastest possible 2 or 3 laps around the track. A new event in the Olympics for women, this event has the riders in a staggered standing start and as they explode out of the gate and get in position for the only. With much competition from GB, Germany, France and Russia in this race, the Canadian Team had it's share of highs and lows this season, and has been selected as the "alternate" for this year's Olympic Games.