Track Cycling Events Included at the 2012 Olympic Games
Keiren: Keiren was first included as an Olympic event at the 2000 Olympic Games, though the 2012 Olympic Games will mark the first keiren competition for women. In the event, seven cyclists line up for a mass start. After the cyclists begin, they follow a pace bike around the track at gradually increasing speeds. Shortly before the end of the race, the pace bike leaves the track and riders sprint to the finish. The first rider across the line is the winner. The events are contested in a knockout format, and only the best riders move on to the final round.
Omnium: Omnium will be contested for the first time at the 2012 Olympic Games among both men and women. The event features riders competing in six events, including a flying lap, points race, elimination, individual pursuit, scratch race and time trial.
The flying lap race covers 250 meters, while the points race covers 30 kilometers for men and 20 kilometers for women. The elimination race covers 48 laps, and the individual pursuit is four kilometers long for men and 3 kilometers long for women. The scratch race also has varying lengths among the genders, as men race for 15 kilometers and women for 10 kilometers. The scratch race is important because it helps to determine the seedings for the individual pursuit. Finally, the time trial race is one kilometer long for men and 500 meters long for women.
In each event, riders are awarded points. The rider to win each event receives one point, and the rider with the lowest number of points at the end of the six events wins the competition.
Sprint: The sprint event, sometimes called match sprint, pits two cyclists against one another on the track. The cyclists begin on opposite sides and ride for three laps in an effort to come up with the fastest time. The first round is a qualifying round in order to determine seeding, and the event then turns into a knock-out style tournament. The first rounds are single-elimination rounds, while the following rounds are best-of-three rounds.
Team Pursuit: In the team pursuit event, men's teams of four or women's teams of three chase each other around the track. Like in the sprint event, two teams begin on opposite sides of the track. In the men's race, athletes have four kilometers to try to catch the opposite team. The women are given three kilometers to try to achieve the same goal. The first team to catch the other is the winner of the round. If one team does not catch the other, the team with the fastest time is declared the winner.
As is the case with many of the track cycling events, the team pursuit event begins with a qualifying round in which teams ride by themselves in order to achieve a time for seeding. Then, the team pursuit event moves into knock out rounds to determine the winners.
Team Sprint: The team sprint event is made up of teams of three on the men's side and teams of two on the women's side. Likewise, the men compete over three laps around the track while the women ride twice around the track.
The team sprint race begins with a qualifying round in which the teams compete for tournament placing. In this round, each team competes individually and tries to come up with the fastest time. From there, the event progresses into a knock-out style tournament. As in the team pursuit race, two teams begin on the opposite sides of the track and ride as quickly as possible through the allotted number of laps.
Sandra Johnson is an avid Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46