The Omnium: Track Cycling's Newest Olympic Event

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Cycling has roots back to the first modern Olympic Games in Athens back in 1896. Since then, track cycling and road cycling have continued to evolve, being more inclusive of women and open to new ideas.

The 2012 Games in London will feature a new track cycling event, and it's a spectator-friendly one. The Omnium will start on August 4th for the men and August 6th for the women and last two days each.

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What's the Omnium? Think decathlon for track cycling. Participants will compile points based off their performance in six different events (winner gets one points, second place two points, and so on), with the overall lowest point total earning the gold medal.

Here's a look at the six events of the Omnium:

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Flying Lap

The flying lap is a race against a clock, where riders get a flying start and try to get the best time in a distance that doesn't exceed 250 meters.

Points Race

This was a stand-alone Olympic event until the Omnium replaced it after the 2008 Beijing Games. It's a combination distance/sprint race where points are earned every 10th lap when a sprint takes place. Whoever wins that lap gets 5 points, second place 3, third place 2 and fourth place 1. In addition, a cyclist can earn 20 points for lapping the entire field. At the end of the race (30K for men, 20K for women), points are added up and the highest total wins.

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Elimination Race

The elimination race is a bunch race with twice as many laps as there are competitors. Every two laps, a sprint takes place and the last-place rider in each lap is eliminated until one remains.

Individual Pursuit

This, too, was a stand-alone event up until the 2012 London Games when it was merged into the Omnium. The race pits two riders at a time, who start from a stationary position on opposite sides of the track.

When it was a stand-alone competition, the two riders tried to catch each other within the allotted distance and a knockout-like tournament took place. However, in the scope of the omnium, the riders will simply race against the clock (4K for men, 3K for women).

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Scratch Race

The scratch race is a straightforward 16K race (for men) or 10K race (for women) with a flying start after one lap. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins.

Time Trial

The final event is a simple (and fast) time trial, which totals 1K for men and 500 meters for women.

More: 10 Common Time Trial Mistakes

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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.
Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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