The entree to the Games was the the 2012 World Championships in Melbourne. It had the thrills, spills and suprises to fire up the Australians and all of their supporters. Great Britain finished on top of the gold medal tally with five to Australia's three, but Australia secured medals in eight of the ten Olympic events with Great Britain medalling in six events.
Sprinters to watch:
With gender parity for the first time in Olympic history at five medals apiece, sprint queen Anna Meares to compete in three events - the team sprint alongside triple World Championship winning partner Kaarle McCulloch, and the sprint and keirin.
British nemesis Victoria Pendleton beat Meares to individual sprint gold in 2008 and at the 2012 World Championships after meeting in a dramatic semi-final. Meares bounced back to win the keirin world title in style- some consolation after Germany were the surprise victors over the seemingly unstoppable Meares/ McCulloch in the team sprint. The Germans also snatched the world record from the Aussies- something they will be keen to claim back in London.
With just one more medal in London the Queensland born champion Meares will become the first female cyclist from any country to win four Olympic track medals and the first to medal at three Games.
The men's sprint trio of 19-year-old Matthew Glaetzer, Shane Perkins, and Scott Sunderland was dubbed a 'work in progress' leading into the 2012 World Championships. They went on to win a stunning gold medal, setting up for a blistering encore in London. The Aussies will also be up against home favourite Sir Chris Hoy in the keirin and sprint events.
Endurists to watch:
It took a world record for the Brits to beat the Australian combination of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Michael Hepburn and Glenn O'Shea in the coveted men's team pursuit. The teams met at the London test event where Australia took gold, but the tables were turned at the 2012 World Championships with Britain clocking a world record three minutes 53.295 seconds. Australia finished less than two 10ths of a second behind in the 4000m race which Bobridge described as a "kick in the guts." Alexander Edmondson is also in the squad.
The women are also focused on team pursuit glory, with 2010 world champion Josie Tomic leading the Australian women. After years of injury and testing new combinations, a silver medal at the 2012 World Championships from Tomic, Annette Edmondson and Melissa Hoskins proved their potential. Amy Cure is also in the women's squad. The Edmondsons become the first brother-sister combination to represent Australia in cycling at the same Olympic Games.
The exciting addition of the omnium is sure to keep spectators on the edge of their seats as the athletes battle through six gruelling events to reach an eventual winner. Australia's O'Shea won the men's 2012 World Championship with rising star Annette Edmondson taking the women's silver in just her second international omnium outing.
For the first time in Olympic cycling history, the number of track cycling events will have an even gender split, with five men’s and five women’s events on the program. There are three 'sprint' events- sprint, team sprint, keirin- and two 'endurance events'- team pursuit, omnium. Only one athlete or team can compete in each event.
Classic short distance event in which two or more riders cover three laps. Only the final 200 metres is timed. Riders obtain a seeding through the qualifying 200 metre flying time trial with 18 men and 12 women qualifying for the first round. From quarter final stage onwards rivals match up in best of three heats to determine progress to the following round.
2012 World Champions: Men - FRA; Women - GBR
- Team Sprint
In men's team sprint two teams of three riders compete against each other and the clock over three laps of the track. After one lap the first rider peels off to allow the second rider to set the pace. This rider completes their effort with one lap to go and then it is up to the final cyclist, traditionally a time trial specialist, to finish off. The leading rider must not swing up until a full lap is complete and must peel off between an area of 15 metres before and after their start line, otherwise the team will be disqualified. The fastest eight teams go through from the qualifying round to the first round and from there, the fastest two winning teams contest the race for gold and silver and the other two winners contest the race for bronze.
Women's team sprint follows the same format but involves only two riders from the start.
2012 World Champions: Men - AUS; Women - GER
Up to seven riders compete over 2000m. A special motorised bike called a derny leads the field for the first 1,400m starting at 30km/h and bringing the riders up to a speed of 50km/h. Cyclists manoeuvre for the best position before the derny leaves the track. They then sprint for the finish line. The first two riders across the line in the qualifying heats go through to the first round with the losers contesting repechage heats. The two winners of each of three repechage heats go through to the first round. In the first round the first three riders in each of the two heats qualify for the medal final and the losers ride off for 7-12 place.
2012 World Champions: Men - GBR; Women - AUS
- Team Pursuit
Men's team pursuit involves four riders while women's teams comprise of three riders. The rider on the front of the quartet/trio must keep the pace as high as possible but must not ride so fast that they drop any of teammates. The front rider will swing up the track at the end of their “turn” and must smoothly rejoin the team in the fourth/third wheel position. The pace is then set by the rider now on the front of the group. The time is taken on the front wheel of the third rider across the line and it is often the case that only three riders will finish.
In the qualifying round each team rides alone on the track against the clock with the fastest eight teams going through. In the first round and finals, one team starts on each side of the track and they race each other and the clock. The fastest two winning teams of the first round contest the race for gold and silver and the other two winners race for bronze. In the finals the winner is determined by either catching the other team or recording the fastest time. A team is deemed to have been caught if the team chasing comes within one metre of the back wheel of the rider at the back of the rival team.
2012 World Champions: Men - GBR; Women - GBR
Omnium is a new event that sees six disciplines collide in an event attractive to endurance riders. It is known as the ‘heptathlon’ of track cycling and involves a medley event involving a Flying Lap (250m time trial), Points Race (30km for men, 20km for women), Individual Pursuit (4km for men, 3km for women), Scratch Race (15km for men, 10km for women), Kilometre Time Trial (500m for women) and finally an Elimination Race (every two laps the last rider over the line is eliminated).
2012 World Champions: Men - AUS; Women - GBR
AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC HISTORY
Since Edgar “Dunc” Gray won Australia’s first Olympic cycling medal in 1928, the nation has enjoyed a long and proud Olympic history. With nearly 40 medals won on the track, it is one of Australia’s most successful Olympic sports and has produced legends such as Russell Mockridge, Dean Woods, Kathy Watt, Stuart O’Grady, Bradley McGee and Anna Meares. Australia dominated the Olympic cycling podium at the Athens 2004 Olympics, winning 5 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze on the track.
To read more about Australia’s Olympic cycling history click here>>>