Between now and next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio we will be focusing on the different sports and Team GB athletes to keep an eye out for. The latest Olympic Spotlight sees us concentrate on cycling.
WHERE: Rio Olympic Velodrome, Olympic BMX Centre, Mountain Bike Centre, Fort Copacabana and Pontal
WHEN: August 6-21
MEDAL EVENTS: 18 (TRACK – men’s sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit, omnium; women’s sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit, omnium. ROAD – men’s road race, time trial; women’s road race, time trial. MOUNTAIN – men’s cross country; women’s cross country. BMX – men’s race; women’s race)
DID YOU KNOW: Cycling has been contested at every single Summer Olympic Games since 1896, although women’s cycling didn’t enter the programme until as recently as 1984.
ABOUT THE SPORT:
In one form or another, cycling has taken place at every Games since the birth of the modern Olympic movement at Athens 1896 – although the men’s individual sprint on the track and men’s road race are the only two disciplines contested in the first Games to still be running.
Track cycling sees five medal events contested by men and five by women while out of the velodrome men and women also contest a road race and a time trial.
Mountain biking was added for Atlanta 1996 with a men’s and women’s cross country event while BMX will be entering its third Olympic Games after being added for Beijing eight years ago.
France top the all-time medal table for the sport with 41 golds but Team GB are third with 26 golds and 75 medals in total.
Qualification has been taking place over the past two years with the majority of quota places being awarded through the UCI Olympic qualification rankings.
Team GB finished fourth in the 2015 UCI World Tour to secure the maximum five quota places for the men’s road race and one for the men’s time trial.
Spots for the women’s road race and time trial will be decided by the 2016 UCI World Rankings which are yet to be completed but on the track, the number of riders per nation has already been sewn up thanks to the 2014-2016 Olympic track ranking.
Team GB’s strong performances in the velodrome mean they will be represented in each of the ten disciplines apart from the women’s team sprint.
BMX and mountain biking quota spots will be decided by the Olympic qualification rankings which will be finalised later this year, while the individual cyclists selected to compete at Rio 2016 will also be decided over the coming months.
DID YOU KNOW: Only two riders have won seven Olympic cycling medals and both are British, as well as knights of the realm. Sir Chris Hoy notched six golds and one silver during his career while Sir Bradley Wiggins has four golds, one silver and two bronzes but could yet add to his collection at Rio 2016.
TEAM GB SUCCESS:
Team GB are the third-most successful nation in Olympic history when it comes to cycling, behind France and Italy, after notching 26 golds medals, 26 silvers and 23 bronze for a total of 75.
The first of these medals came in Athens 1896 when Edward Battell clinched bronze in the men’s road race while Frederick Keeping also won silver in the now-discontinued 12 hours race at that inaugural modern Games.
Team GB have dominated cycling at the past two Olympics, topping the medal table at Beijing 2008 with eight golds before repeating the feat – and the gold medal haul – at London 2012.
Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins are the most successful Olympic cyclists of all-time with seven medals apiece but Team GB are still awaiting a first medal in BMX and mountain biking.
TEAM GB HOPES FOR RIO:
While the final team for Rio is yet to be selected, the recent Track Cycling World Championships in London, saw a slew of impressive performances from Team GB riders.
On the men’s side, Jason Kenny won the men’s sprint title with the men’s team pursuit quartet of Jon Dibben, Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Wiggins taking silver behind Australia.
Double Olympic champion Laura Trott showed she is still one of the best in the world by winning both the women’s omnium and scratch race and picking up a bronze in the women’s team pursuit, while Becky James put two years of injury hell behind her to take keirin bronze.
The men’s road race at Rio 2016 could favour someone like two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome or 2016 Paris-Nice champion Geraint Thomas while Liam Phillips has won back-to-back BMX World Cup titles.