The men’s and women’s sprint is all about power, tactics and excellent bike handling skills. It is one of the oldest track events and generally the most popular amongst spectators.
The events begin with a 200m time trial which will determine the rankings for the 16 riders in the first round. From then on the competition is a knockout, going to quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final, which are all the best of three heats.
Although the sprinters ride 3 laps of the track it is only the last 200m of the final lap that is timed. In order to decide the line-up of 2 riders per sprint, lots are drawn and one rider is chosen to lead the race. The first lap of the race must be ridden no slower than walking pace, but the remaining laps can be ridden however the riders choose. This is when the master bike handling skills come into play. Track standing, dramatic increases and decreases in pace, and feints are often used to try and outwit the opponent.
Manoeuvring for position is the key. The rider behind the leader can only pass on the outside of the rider, which is the longest way round, but being at the back can have its advantages. You are able to easily see your opponent and you are also able to draft the rider in front, gaining an aerodynamic advantage.
But when that bell signals the last 200m the race will be flat out and the rider in the back must play this intelligently if they want to win. Drafting has its advantages, but leave the overtaking to late and the rider may find it impossible to get ahead of the leader.
The men’s and women’s sprints take place over 3 days. Men’s race: Sat 4th, Sun 5th, and Mon 6th of August. Women’s race: Sun 5th, Mon 6th, and Tues 7th of August.