Olympic track cycling explainer: Team Sprint

Here's what you need to know about the Olympic Team Sprint.

Get access to everything we publish when you join VeloNews or Outside+.

FINALS: August 2 (women), August 3 (men).

HOW IT WORKS: Teams of three for men and two for women line up on opposite sides of the track and start from a standstill. Riders accelerate up to top speeds, with each rider completing one lap of the track before the final sprint to the finish. The men’s race is three laps (750 meters) while the women’s race is two laps (500 meters) long.

Team sprint is contested in three rounds: qualifying, a first round, and then the medal finals. Teams line up on the opposing sides of the track. A gate holds the lead rider, while the other riders are held by staffers. The lead rider accelerates to top speed before peeling off and allowing the next rider in line to take the lead. The exchange must occur within a specific section of the track, or else a team is penalized.

The time is taken of the first rider across the line. Teams are seeded by a time trial round, and then they proceed through knockout rounds to decide the medals.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This event is a show of force and determination, and also endurance, as the final rider must survive for two (women) or three (men) laps riding in the slipstream of their teammates. Similar to the Team Pursuit, Team Sprint squads must ride in a tight formation, and they must decide how to strategically choose their lineup. Look for teams that allow big gaps to open between the riders, because that often spells doom for a squad. Often, riders choose the fastest 1km sprinter for the final rider.

FAVORITES MEN: The Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Germany

FAVORITES WOMEN: Germany, Australia, Russia, China