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Olympics

Olympic track cycling explainer: Omnium

Here's a handy explainer to help you understand the Omnium event at the 2021 Olympics.

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Finals: August 5 (men), August 8 (women)

How it works: The Omnium is a points-based competition that comprises four different bunch races (everyone starts together), all of which award points toward a final ranking of riders. The four bunch races are: Scratch Race, Tempo Race, Elimination Race, and Points Race.

The Omnium starts off with a basic Scratch Race (10km for men, 7.5km for women) where the first rider across the line wins. Next up is a Tempo Race (same distances), where after four laps riders then sprint for points every lap, and a rider who laps the field gets 20 points, and riders who are dropped and lapped by the field lose 20 points.

The third race is the Elimination Race, which features sprints every two laps, and after each sprint the last rider across the line is eliminated. The race goes until just one rider remains.

The final event is the Points Race (25km men, 20km women) awards points every 10 laps to the first four riders across the line (5, 3, 2, and 1 point) and those points are doubled for the final sprint. Lapping the field earns a rider 20 points, and teams that are lapped lose 20 points.

After these four events, the accumulated points of the riders crown the medalists.

What to watch for: You could study the Omnium for years and still be miffed by this complex event, as riders tackle different strategies in each event to try and gain the most total points. For the Olympics all four events take place on one day, so the top riders must have a mix of sprinting power and also endurance. Often, it’s a road sprinter who excels at this event, due to the blend of strategy, endurance, and punch. Watch for a rider who jumps to an early victory and then rides conservatively through the remaining events. For the Scratch and Points Races, the best sprinters will try to keep the field together, while the more endurance-minded riders will break away and lap the field. In the Elimination and Tempo Races, riders will simply race by feel and then unleash their sprints after trying to conserve energy on the in between laps.

Favorites men: Benjamin Thomas (France), Campbell Stewart (New Zealand) Jan-Willem van Schip (Netherlands), Matthew Walls (Great Britain)

Favorites women: Letizia Paternoster (Italy), Yumi Kajihara (Japan), Kristen Wild (Netherlands), Annette Edmondson (Australia)

North Americans: Jennifer Valente (USA), Alison Beveridge (Canada), Gavin Hoover (USA)