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Olympic Track Racing Explained


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Track racing at the Olympics
Most track races are pretty hard to understand to the casual observer, therefore the tactics and rules really have to be explained before you can really appreciate what the hell is going on.
Special thanks go to the UCI for the low down on all the rules.

Check here for the itinerary

1km Time Trial
Riders will race one by one against the clock with a standing start position, held by starting block. After four laps of the track, each rider will be ranked according to his time and the fastest one will be declared the winner. This is about as simple as it gets.
GB Olympic hopefuls: Chris Hoy (World Champ ’02 and ’04), Craig Maclean, Jamie Staff and Ross Edgar

Sprint
This race is a little harder to follow. Riders will complete a 200m time trial to determine the fastest 18, they will qualify for 1/16th finals. The competition will be organised according to specific matches, heats and repechage composition table. From the quarter finals, two-up matches over two heats (and a third deciding heat if necessary) will take place. Quarter final winners will continue to the semi finals and losers will ride a four-up sprint for places 5-8. Following the composition table, the two winners of the semi finals will compete for the first and second place and the two losers of the semi finals for the third and fourth. Simple eh?
GB Olympic hopeful: Ross Edgar

Individual Pursuit
This is basically a match sprint for endurance riders. A qualifying round will select the eight best riders on the basis of their time, in order to compete in the first round over a distance of 4km. The four winners of the first round shall contest the finals. Catching the other rider or recording the fastest time will determine the winner. The riders with the two best times shall ride for the first and second place, while the two other riders shall ride for third and fourth places. The riders start on opposite sides (home and back straight) of the track. The Brits are very good at this; Chris Boardman, Colin Sturgess, Tony Doyle and Hugh Porter are all ex-olympic medalists and world champions, so it obviously suits the single minded British mentality.
GB Olympic hopeful: Bradley Wiggins – 2003 World Champion

Points Race
The winner will be declared according to the accumulated points won during the intermediate and the final lap sprints and by winning laps (by lapping the main bunch). Intermediate sprints occur every 10 laps. Sprint points will be awarded as follows: 5 points to the first rider, 3 points to the second, 2 points to the third and 1 point to the fourth. Any rider that gains a lap on the main bunch is awarded 20 points. Riders will cover a total distance of 40km (160 laps). Again you have to pay attention, as with lapping going on there’s always some confusion as to who is on which lap.
GB Olympic hopeful: Chris Newton – 2002 World Champion

Madison
Historically the Madison is the race of the European six day circuit. This event originated at Madison Square Garden in New York, hence the title ‘Madison’. Teams consisting of two riders will compete in a race run over a distance of 50km (200 laps) with several intermediate sprints. You have to concentrate very hard on what is going on as it can get confusing, but if you are in the picture this can be the most exciting of all the track events. The final placing is determined by the accumulated points in the sprints, which occur every 20 laps, or by the distance according to the complete laps covered by each team. Teams having covered the same number of laps will be placed according to their accumulated points. Where there is a draw on laps and points, the number of wins in the sprints shall decide the final result. Sprint points will be awarded as follows: 5 points to the first team, 3 points to the second, 2 points to the third and 1 point to the fourth. Crashes can happen on the track and the Madison is a likely event for some nasty splinter action.
GB Olympic hopefuls: Bradley Wiggins and Rob Hayles

Team Pursuit
Two teams of four riders will compete against each other in a 4km race, starting from the middle of the straight of each side of the track. By either catching the other team or recording the fastest time determines the winner. The front tyre of the third rider of each team crossing the line will determine the time of each team. A qualifying round, where each team competes alone on the track, will select the eight best teams on the basis of their time, in order to compete in the first round. The four winners of the first round shall contest the finals. The teams with the two best times shall ride for the first and second place, while the other two teams shall ride for third and fourth place. We’re quite good at this too.
GB Olympic hopefuls: (team from) Bradley Wiggins, Bryan Steel, Paul Manning, Rob Hayles, Chris Newton and Steve Cummings – 2003 World silver medalists

Team Sprint
In team sprint, two teams of three riders will run over 3 laps of a track, each of those riders leading for one lap. A qualifying round, run by heats, will select the eight best teams on the basis
of their times, in order for them to compete in the first round. The four winners of the first round shall contest the finals. The teams with the two best times shall ride for the first and second place, while the other two teams shall ride for third and fourth place.
GB Olympic hopefuls: (from) Jason Queally, Chris Hoy, Craig Maclean, Jamie Staff and Ross Edgar

Keirin
Possibly the most bizarre of all the track events, but great fun to do – it’s a bit like a demolition derby, without the carnage. Invented in Japan, where they use this event for gambling – and it’s just as big as horse racing in the UK. To win it riders will compete in a sprint after completing a certain number of laps behind a motorised pacer (derny), who leaves the track 600-700m before the finish. The pacer will start at 30km per hour and gradually increase the speed to 50km per hour, before leaving the track. Following a specific composition table, 21 riders will compete in 3 heats of 7 riders, during the first round, and 2 heats of 6 riders, during the second round. The 3 winners of each heat of the second round will proceed to the final, for places 1-6, while the rest will race for places 7-12.
GB Olympic hopefuls: Jamie Staff – 2004 World Champion and Ross Edgar

Women’s events
500m Time Trial
Riders will race one by one against the clock with a standing start position, held by starting block. After two laps of the track, each rider will be ranked according to her time and the fastest one will be declared the winner.
GB Olympic hopeful: Vikki Pendleton – British Champion and World Cup winner

Sprint
As in the men’s competition riders will compete a 200m time trial to determine the fastest 12, who will qualify for the 1/8th finals. The competition will be organised according to specific matches, heats and repechage composition table. From the quarter finals, two-up matches over two heats (and a third deciding heat if necessary) will take place. Quarter final winners will continue to the semi finals and losers will ride a four-up sprint for places 5-8. Following the composition table, the two winners of the semi finals will race for the first and second place and the two losers for the third and fourth.
GB Olympic hopeful: Vikki Pendleton – British Champion

Individual Pursuit
A qualifying round will select the eight best riders, on the basis of their time, in order for them to compete in the first round over a distance of 3km. The four winners of the first round shall contest the finals. Catching the other rider or recording the fastest time will determine the winner. The riders with the two best times shall ride for the first and second place, while the other two shall ride for third and fourths. The riders start on opposite sides in the middle of the two straights of the track.
GB Olympic hopeful: Emma Davies – British Champion

Points Race
Again the winner will be declared according to the accumulated points won during the intermediate sprints, during the final lap and by winning laps (by lapping the main bunch). Intermediate sprints occur every 10 laps. Sprint points will be awarded as follows: 5 points
to the first rider, 3 points to the second, 2 points to the third and 1 point to the fourth. Any rider that gains a lap on the main bunch will be awarded 20 points. Riders will cover a total distance of 25km (100 laps).
GB Olympic hopefuls: Nicole Cooke and Emma Davies – British Champion


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