In the Olympic track cycling, the men’s and women’s Sprints will take place this weekend at the purpose-built Velodrome. It is one of the most popular events, having featured in every Olympic Games except Stockholm 1912, when the hosts were unable to build a facility.
It all starts with a 200m time trial to 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.
At Beijing four years ago, we saw the now Sir Chris Hoy win the Sprint, one of three gold medals for the Scot, the others being the Team Sprint and the Keirin, but there is no chance of him repeating the feat at London 2012, with Great Britain able to select only one rider after the International Cycling Union changed the regulations.
That means the number one hope for Great Britain is Jason Kenny, who has finished above Hoy in both the last two World Championships. He is set to take part in the team sprint on Thursday first of all, when France and Germany are among the main dangers.
After that he can plot how he is going to beat the much fancied Frenchman Gregory Baugé, who was beaten by Sir Chris Hoy in the individual sprint at the World Cup meeting in London in February. Baugé picked up a silver medal in the Team Sprint in Beijing, and of course Kenny famously was runner-up to Hoy in the Individual Sprint.
The Frenchman reckons that he is like a ‘caged tiger’ waiting to pounce, and so the scene is set for a terrific tussle between the pair. Germany’s sprint trio of Robert Forstermann, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke are all very good, but Kenny is ready to step into Hoy’s shoes and can go one better than four years ago to deservedly claim gold.
In the women’s sprint all eyes will be on the battle between the two big arch-rivals, Victoria Pendleton and Australia’s Anne Meares. The pair tend to avoid each other when competing now since Meares cut Pendleton off in a race in Bordeaux over five years ago.
This will be Pendleton’s last chance of a medal as she made the decision to retire after London 2012 two years ago, and nothing would be sweeter than to beat her arch-rival Meares to retain the Sprint Final gold medal that she won in Beijing. And it was none other than Meares that she beat, so you can be sure that the Aussie, who also gained bronze at Athens 2004 will be equally determined to outsprint the Brit.
Meares set a world record of 33.95 on her way to Olympic glory in the 500m time trial in Athens, the first Australian female to win track gold. She also became the first female to break the 35 sec barrier in the process, so Pendleton, who had a memorable battle with Meares in the sprint semis at the World Championships earlier this year, will not be complacent as she bids to go out on a high.
Olympic Track Cycling Finals Odds
BetFred have the best odds for the Men’s Olympic Track Cycling Sprint with G. Bauge as the favourite at 1/2 and GB’s medal hope Jason Kenny at a reasonable 13/5. The Team Sprint has Germany as favourites at 13/10 with France as second favourites at 6/4 and Team GB coming in as third favourites at 5/1.
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