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History

Despite the fact that the wheel has been around for thousands of years, the bicycle remains a relatively modern invention - but one that has evolved rapidly over the last two hundred years. The first bicycle was created in 1790 by a Frenchman, Comte de Sivrac. It was made of wood, and had solid wheels with no steering system or pedals.

Steering came courtesy of German Baron von Drais in 1817, while Frenchman Pierre Michaux designed pedals in 1861 (Kirkpatrick McMillan 1831) that were later refined by Englishman JK Starley. The pneumatic inner-tube that helped create air-filled tyres was pioneered in 1887 by Irishman John Boyd Dunlop, and was refined by French brothers Edouard and Andre Michelin.

Over time, cycling has evolved from a mean's of transport into a pastime and sport in its own right, with mountain biking taking the discipline off-road and classic endurance events such as the Tour de France helping to further spread the popularity of the sport and inspiring people to take up cycling for personal fitness and as a hobby.

 

Olympic History

Cycling made its Olympic debut in the inaugural modern Summer Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896, with both road and track cycling included on the schedule. Track racing has been included in ever Summer Games since, apart from Stockholm in 1912, when only a road race was held.

Over time, however, track cycling has undergone much change. Events have changed in length and format, with many coming and going over the years, but the most visible change has been the look and design of the bikes, with engineers helping the athletes to get as much speed as possible, while lowering the bikes' weight to help stamina.

The 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, USA, featured the debut of futuristic-looking bikes with solid carbon-fibre wheels. Progress accelerated again with the introduction of the ultra-lightweight full carbon-fibre bike of Team GB's Chris Boardman in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. world records, lapped world champion in the final.

The men's 1km time trial and women's 500m time trial events were removed from the Olympic Programme following the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, to make way for the introduction of the BMX discipline in Beijing 2008.

Technical

Indoor track racing takes place on an 250m to 300m-long elliptical indoor velodrome, constructed of wood or concrete. The straights are banked at 12 degrees, while the steep curves can be banked as much as 42 degrees. Lanes are marked for riders to use in the sprint and endurance events, as well as for building up speed or slowing down.

The bikes used in track events are highly sophisticated machines designed specifically for indoor track racing. Upright bikes with conventional drop-down handlebars are used for the sprint events, while low-profile bikes with triathlon-style handlebars are used for the endurance events as they allow the riders to adopt a more aerodynamic posture.

Both bikes are designed and built using lightweight materials, such as carbon fibre and sophisticated metal alloys so that they are as light as possible to help the riders' speed and endurance. Solid wheels are often used to help the aerodynamics. They don't use gears or brakes, as speeds in the races are fairly constant and riders control their velocity through the pressure they put on the pedals.

 

Current Olympic Programme

  • Team Pursuit
  • Team Sprint
  • Individual Sprint
  • Keirin
  • Omnium

equipment

Pursuit

Specialised racing bikes designed for indoor competition. They are built using sophisticated lightweight metal alloys and carbon fibre to be as light as possible. They don't use gears or brakes, as speeds in the races are fairly constant and riders control their velocity through the pressure they put on the pedals.

Clothing

Indoor track cyclists wear tight-fitting lycra shorts, tops and bodysuits to help smooth the flow of air over their bodies and reduce the weight of material they have to carry.

Helmet

As with road cycling, indoor track cyclists wear helmets to protect themselves in the case of accidents. Track helmets tend to be even more aerodynamically profiled than their road counterparts, though, due to the increased requirement for smooth air flow.

rules

There are a number of different types of track cycling events, each with very particular rules and techniques:

Sprint (men and women)

The sprint is a short-distance event in which two or more riders cover three laps. Only the final 200m is timed. Riders need strength and speed, as well as an awareness of tactics as riders will change their speed to try and feint or surprise their opponent.

Keirin (men)

Keirin is a Japanese version of the traditional sprint, created in the 1940s. Riders compete over a distance of 2000m. Riders need to have endurance, speed and tactical ability in equal measure. For the first 1400m, the pace of the field is controlled by a special motorised pace bike, and the riders jostle for position before they are released for the final 600m sprint to the line.

Team sprint (men)

In the team sprint, two teams of three riders compete against each other and the clock over three laps. The first and second riders alternate positions at the head of the field to control the pace until the final lap, when the final rider - invariably a time-trial specialist - finishes the race.

Individual pursuit (men 4km / women 3km)

The individual pursuit is a pure endurance race, with riders attempting to post the fastest time over a set distance.

Two riders are on the track at the same time, and if one rider overtakes his opponent, then he is declared the winner even if the full distance of the race has not been competed. As well as good stamina, endurance cyclists need good posture to ensure they have as sleek an aerodynamic profile as possible.

Points race (men 40km / women 25km)

The points race is a series of points-awarding sprints. It requires tactical awareness as well as stamina and speed, as riders work out how hard to push, based on their score. Sprints take place every 10 laps, with the first four riders getting points (5,3,2,1) each time and at the overall finish.

A rider is awarded 20 extra points if he laps the field, while riders losing a lap have 20 points deducted. If points are tied the winner of the final sprint is the victor.

Madison 50km (men)

This team event is named after the six-day races held at New York's Madison Square Gardens from 1899. Opposing teams are made of of two riders, who work together to score points in a series of sprints every 20 laps.

Only one rider from each team races at a time, with their partner cruising at the top of the banking, ready to be 'tagged' into action called a 'hand sling', in which the racing cyclist propels his team-mate up to speed. The victor is determined by distance covered, with points helping decide in the event of a tie.

Team pursuit (men)

Teams of four endurance cyclists compete in the team pursuit - one of the most tactical events in track cycling. The four riders circulate as a pack, with the leader having to ride fast enough to set a competitive pace, while not tiring his team out or leaving his team-mates behind.

The leader is cycled on a regular basis, so that a fresh pair of legs can set the pace, while the old leader can drop to the back of the pack and benefit from the lack of aerodynamic turbulence to regain his strength. Teams compete against each other on opposite sides of the track. The aim is to record the fastest time or catch the rival team.

Team HeroesEntire Team

The pretender to Chris Hoy’s throne, Jason Kenny, MBE, won individual sprint silver at the 2012 World Championships, having been awarded the gold from the year before when France’s Grégory Baugé was stripped of the tit...

 

An impressive swimmer and runner in her youth, Dani King spent her first full season in 2010 focusing on the road, holding her own in prestigious events such as the Tour of Flanders.

Since taking to the track, King has wo...

Sir Chris Hoy, multiple world and Olympic champion track cyclist, was born and raised in Edinburgh and has represented Great Britain and Scotland throughout his career, winning four Olympic, 11 world and two Commonwealth titles to date.

Laura Trott has been a revelation since breaking into the British endurance squad and already has three world titles to her name, aged 20.

Trott was part of the British trio to set the world team pursuit world record at the 2012 World C...

After a disappointing Athens 2004 Olympic debut, Victoria Pendleton won individual sprint gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and she currently has nine world titles to her name.

In 2009 she placed 84th in FHM magazine’s 100 sexiest...

Our Results

Total: 60 medals
  • 24 Gold
  • 17 Silver
  • 19 Bronze
Athens 1896
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
London 1908
  • 5 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Antwerp 1920
  • 1 Gold
  • 3 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Paris 1924
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Amsterdam 1928
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Los Angeles 1932
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Berlin 1936
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
London 1948
  • 0 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Helsinki 1952
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Melbourne 1956
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Rome 1960
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Tokyo 1964
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Mexico City 1968
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Munich 1972
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Montreal 1976
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Moscow 1980
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Los Angeles 1984
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Seoul 1988
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Barcelona 1992
  • 1 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Atlanta 1996
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Sydney 2000
  • 1 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Athens 2004
  • 2 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Beijing 2008
  • 7 Gold
  • 3 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
London 2012
  • 7 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
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