The games are underway in Rio and, while we've already had some road racing action, tomorrow's the day we've all been waiting for: the first day of Olympic Track Cycling! Whether you're a long-time vet of the velodrome or you've never seen a track race in your life, this week will play host to some amazing racing, so let's talk about taking it all in!
The next few days will have the drome packed with races. Here's what to watch out for:
Sprint / Team Sprint
One of the most technical races on two-wheels, Sprints and Team Sprints feature the racers beginning with a super-slow battle for position and end with a blast of speed in an all out sprint for the finish. Because of the benefits of the draft, you really want to be behind the leader going into the last push so that you can use that slipstream to speed around them for the win in the final turns. Look for riders holding insanely long trackstands, "camping out" at the top of the track, and always riding with one eye over their shoulder.
Team Pursuit is one of the most exciting events as two teams of riders start on opposite sides of the velodrome and race to "catch up" to their opponents. Racing over a set distance, the goal of each team is to work together in a paceline to chase down the other team (or at least cover the race-distance first). This event's particularly exciting because you always have a great view of the competitors and how they're stacking up, making it an awesome intro event for people just getting into track racing.
A personal favorite of ours, Keirin racing was developed as a gambling pasttime in Japan before capturing the hearts and minds of the IOC and making it into the games. Beginning with motor-paced laps behind a scooter, the race turns into a full on mash-fest as the scooter pulls off and a cadre of colorful riders battle in a sprint for the finish. Expect an incredible show of speed, positioning, and even some shoving as riders fight their way to the finish at 40+mph.
Lastly, the Omnium really tests racers' talents across multiple disciplines. Made up of six events over a couple days, riders will compete in a Scratch Race, Individual Pursuit, an Elimination Race, Time Trial, a Flying Lap, and lastly a Points Race. They'll be scored based on how they finish each event, and when it's all wrapped up the most successful rider across all the events will be crowned the Omnium champ and take home the gold! If you want to see the best of the best fight it out over a series, this is the one you want to watch!
Who to Watch
The biggest names in pro cycling are out in Rio and competing at the drome. Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish bring some star-power to the UK team, while Chloe Dygert and Sarah Hammer should put in a strong showing for the US. Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte will also be looking to repeat their 2012 Gold for Germany in the Team Pursuit, while Lasse Norman Hansen will be defending his Omnium Gold for Denmark. It's a who's-who of the track cycling world, and the perfect chance to find some new riders to cheer for over the next four years as well!
How to Watch
If you're in the States, you might fall victim to NBC's tape-delay for primetime, but they are streaming some events live, so hopefully you'll be able to watch some of the races pre-twitter/insta/facebook spoilers.
Luckily, the BBC streams have been amazing (and commercial free), so if you're in the UK, watch away! Canadians will also benefit from CBC's stellar streams (though they do have limited commercials). And, if you've got a favorite VPN or proxy service, point your traffic to one of those countries and you'll be watching live with the rest of the world!
Don't forget to check your local listings for exact race times on your end, and we'll do our best not to spoil anything too quickly after it happens (No promises, though. This stuff is exciting!).
Now it's time to hit the trainer and get in the spirit. We'll be watching right along with the whole world tomorrow!