Cycling

Cycling

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Olympic Sports

Cycling

Cycling has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Games at Athens 1896. The sport has four exciting disciplines: Track, Road, BMX and Mountain Bike.

Overview

Ever since the bicycle was invented in Germany at the end of the 18th century, it has been used for sport. Racing on wooden indoor tracks regularly drew large crowds as early as 1870. Cycling has been a constant feature of the modern Olympic programme with new disciplines and events being added constantly.

Track races are held on a smooth bowl-shaped oval track (which for the Olympic Games must have a lap length of 250 metres). Road events take place on public roads. BMX and Mountain Bike events are staged on rugged courses.

At Athens 1896, a Road Race and five Track events were held. Mountain Bike was first included at Atlanta 1996 with BMX following at the Beijing 2008 Games.

Women first competed in Cycling at Los Angeles 1984, when they took part in the Road Race, with Track events included since Seoul 1988. The London 2012 Games were the first at which men and women competed in the same number of events in all Cycling disciplines.

International Federation: Union Cycliste Internationale(Open in a new window)

Event Programme

BMX Freestyle

  • Park (Men/Women)

BMX Racing

  • Race (Men/Women)

Mountain Bike

  • Cross-Country (Men/Women)

Road

  • Road Race (Men/Women)
  • Individual Time Trial (Men/Women)

Track

  • Team Sprint (Men/Women)
  • Sprint (Men/Women)
  • Keirin (Men/Women)
  • Team Pursuit (Men/Women)
  • Omnium (Men/Women)
  • Madison (Men/Women)

Map of the Cycling Road Race

Road Race
Individual Time Trial

ESSENCE OF THE SPORT

Thrilling races right to the line

Cycling players

Track events

The track programme in the Izu Velodrome has six events for men and six for women.

Sprint races are a combination of tactics and power, with riders often coming to a near-halt on the track before a dramatic rush for the line over the last lap and a half.

In team pursuit, two teams of four start at opposite sides of the velodrome and race for 4km. The winning team is the one that catches the other or finishes in the shortest time. Teamwork is key as riders take turns to lead and bear the full burden of the air resistance.

The Sydney 2000 Games saw the introduction of the keirin event, which was invented in Japan. Raced over eight laps, riders jostle for position in the slipstream of a pacer motorcycle, which gradually increases its speed to 50kph. When three laps remain, the pacer leaves the track and the riders sprint for the finish.

In team sprints, three-man or two-woman teams take part in a time trial, each member taking turns to lead. The clock stops when the last team member finishes their lap.

The omnium is made up of four separate events in a day, in which riders accumulate points. The four events are the scratch race, where the first rider to cross the line wins; the tempo race (which will be held for the first time at Tokyo 2020), where points are awarded to the leading riders at every lap; the elimination race, where the last rider is eliminated every two laps; and the points race, where riders race for about 30km and are awarded points along the way.

The men's Madison was removed from the Olympic track schedule after 2008 and has never been included in the women's programme. It returns at Tokyo 2020 with pairs of riders racing each other (for 50 kilometres in the men's event, and 30km in the women's). The riders in each pair take turns to recover while the other races, each being propelled back into the race by a hand-sling move.

Road racing

Starting in Musashinonomori Park, the men's road race will cover more than 250km, the women's more than 130km. In the individual time trials, the riders will set off at equal intervals to be timed over roughly 50km for men, 30km for women.

Mountain bike racing

Riders on the Izu Mountain Bike Course will cover a course of rough terrain with challenging ascents and descents, testing both stamina and skill.

BMX events

Short for bicycle motocross, BMX was first devised in the USA and inspired by motocross racing. Riders start on an eight metre-high hill with a gate at the top, then make their way down a track with numerous jumps, rollers and banked corners (‘berms’). Up to eight riders race at once.

BMX Freestyle Park is a new event at the Games and takes place in an arena full of ramps. The goal is to gain as many points for tricks (such as jumps, spins and flips) as possible in one minute. Points are awarded in categories such as difficulty, originality, flow, control and landing.

OUTLOOK FOR THE TOKYO 2020 GAMES

A global spread of medals

Cycling players

Historically, the top three medal-winning countries across all Cycling disciplines have been France, Italy and Great Britain. In close contention are the USA, Australia and a number of countries in eastern Europe.

China's female riders have been getting stronger in Track racing: at Rio 2016, their sprint team become the first female athletes from Asia to win gold in an Olympic Cycling event.

Many cyclists are able to maintain their competitiveness across several Games. Notable champions include Chris Hoy (Great Britain), who won six Olympic gold medals in Track events between the Sydney 2000 Games and London 2012; Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), who won eight medals, five of them gold, in both Track and Road events from Athens 2004 to Rio 2016; and Kristin Armstrong (USA), who won a third consecutive Olympic time trial at Rio 2016.

TRIVIA

Question

Why do the bicycles used in Track events not have brakes?

Answer

A:To prevent accidents.
Riders often ride in close formation at high speed, and to brake in such a situation would cause a crash. Track bicycles also have fixed gears, so speed is slowly reduced by pushing backwards on the pedals.

Competition Venues

  • Ariake Urban Sports Park
  • Izu Velodrome
  • Izu MTB Course
  • Musashinonomori Park
  • Fuji International Speedway

Olympic Sports

Paralympic Sports