(Reuters) – Focus on track cycling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
* There will be six different track cycling disciplines at the Tokyo Games — individual sprint,, keirin, team pursuit, omnium, and madison.
*bikes, unlike those used in road racing, do not have gears or brakes. They use fixed equipment, meaning a rider cannot freewheel and has to pedal the whole time.
* Organisers strictly enforce regulations on equipment, but a considerable amount of development goes into the aerodynamics of frames and wheels and the skinsuits and helmets riders wear. Fractions of seconds can be the difference between gold and failure.
*takes place on a wooden oval of 250m. The track is banked to a dizzying 45 degrees.
HOW MANY MEDALS? There are 12up for grabs in the six disciplines.
WHAT HAPPENED IN RIO?
Britain ruled the boards in Rio, as it had done in London in 2012, scooping six of the ten titles on offer. Only Italy’s Elia Viviani prevented a whole house for the British men as hefor gold in the Omnium. Sprinter won three golds, and his future wife Laura Trott won two, as she did in London, to become Britain’s most successful female Olympian. Germany’s Kristina Vogel won the but will not be defending her crown after a severe crash in training in 2018 left her paralyzed.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO?
That is the big question. With no world championships this, as has been the case in previous Olympic years, gauging form will be more complicated than usual.
Britain will have a tough time emulating the gold rush in Rio, especially in the blue-ribandevents where the American women led by Chloe Dygert and the Danish men who blazed to the world title in 2020 Berlin will be serious challengers for gold.
Britain’s golden couple, the Kennys, will be confident of adding to their hauls, with Jason requiring one moreto move past Chris Hoy’s British record of six.
The two-rider multi-lap Madison race, a mystifying event, will return to thesince Beijing 2008, with the women’s race making its Olympic debut.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
Aug. 2 to 8
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING? Izu Velodrome is located in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 120km from Tokyo.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
since the first modern Games in Athens in 1896, apart from Stockholm in 1912.
WELL FANCY THAT
One of the most iconicevents is the keirin — in which sprinters are paced behind an electric motorcycle known as a derny for the first 5.5 laps of the eight-lap event, reaching 50kph. Once the derny pulls off, the race begins in earnest with a frantic battle to the line.
Keirin is massively popular in Japan, meaning “racing”. Established in 1948, it attracts large crowds to outdoor velodromes where vast amounts of money are wagered and top riders, which begin at keirin schools dotted around Japan, can become millionaires. It was added to the Olympic program in 2000. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)