Event Guide: CYCLING

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World Cycling: Team pursuit gold for GB's women

Cycling was Great Britain's most successful event at the 2008 Olympics but sweeping changes to the track programme for the London Games mean the hosts will be hard pressed to match the eight golds (14 medals overall) of Beijing.

The road, BMX and mountain bike events remain unaltered but the track schedule has been overhauled.

Where previously there were seven men's events and three for women, there will now be five for each, while the individual pursuit, the points race and the madison have been axed with the omnium (cycling's version of the decathlon) introduced. In addition, each nation can now enter only one athlete/team in each event.

In Beijing, Britain won more than one medal in four different events, something that can't now happen.

Nevertheless, there is a real buzz around cycling in this country at the moment, and expectations are high for success in the velodrome, on the road and around the twists and turns of the Olympic Park BMX track.

Arguably British cycling's biggest star at the moment is Mark Cavendish. The Isle of Man rider is the road race world champion and could well pick up Britain's first gold of the Games, just as Nicole Cooke did so memorably in Beijing.

But it is inside the Olympic Velodrome where the strains of God Save The Queen are likely to be heard most often as Britain's track riders attempt to live up to their exploits in Beijing, where they won seven golds, including a remarkable three for Sir Chris Hoy.

BMX exploded out of the blocks in its inaugural Olympics in 2008, proving a huge hit with its fast-paced format and breath-taking daredevil manoeuvres, and is sure to be one of big attractions in London.

One of the most enduring images from Beijing was of Shanaze Reade, prostrate on the track after crashing out of the women's final.

The British rider will once again be among the favourites - gold for her after her heart-break four years ago promises to be one of the stories of the Games.

Competition Format

  • BMX - the two medal events for men and women will both begin with a seeding phase, before quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.
  • Mountain Bike - the two medal events for men and women see all competitors start together, with the first across the finish line winning gold.
  • Road - the men's and women's road races see all competitors start together, the first across the finish line winning gold, while in the men's and women's time trials riders start 90 seconds apart, and the winner is the rider with the fastest time over the course.
  • Track - There are 10 track cycling events (five for men, five for women), including a brand new one - the Omnium.

More on the London 2012 website

The Rules

The regulations across the four Olympic cycling disciplines, and the events within them, are many and varied, with governing body the International Cycling Union responsible for standardised rules, technical equipment and world records.

More on the UCI website

History

BMX is the newest cycling discipline at the Olympics, making its debut in Beijing. It started in the late 1960s in California and grew in popularity before being officially recognised with full integration into the International Cycling Union (UCI) in 1993. Mountain Biking first appeared at Atlanta 1996, little more than 20 years after it was created as a sport in California. The first national mountain bike championships were held in 1983 in the USA, and the first UCI-recognised World Championships in 1990 in the USA. Road cycling first appeared at the 1912 Games in Stockholm with an individual pursuit for men, with the team time trial on the Olympic schedule until 1992, and 1996 marking the debut of the individual time trial. Olympic road cycling was added to the women's programme in Los Angeles in 1984. Track cycling events have been organised at all the editions of the Games since 1896, with the exception of the 1912 Games in Stockholm. Women have competed in the track events since the Seoul Games in 1988.

More on the IOC website

Get Involved

Go to the British Cycling website for more information on how and where to try out or watch the sport.