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How To Watch: Track Cycling at the Tokyo Olympic Games

By: Angelina Palermo  April 13, 2021

Now is the time to prepare to be the ultimate fan of USA Cycling. Here is everything you need to know about Track Cycling at the Summer Games in July 2021.

How It Works

At the Olympics Team USA, both men and women, will compete in six different track cycling events – the Sprint, Keirin, Madison, Team Sprint, Team Pursuit, and Omnium.


In the Sprint, riders will first compete in a 200-meter time trial to determine seeding times. The fastest 18 riders from the 200-meter qualifying round will advance to the 1/16 finals. In the 1/16 finals, riders compete against each other in a head-to-head, three-lap, single-elimination. The winner of each heat in the 1/16 finals will automatically advance to the 1/8 finals.

In the quarterfinals, the head-to-head match-ups now take on a best-of-three format. Riders must win two of three battles against their opponent to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, the final four riders again compete in a best-of-three format against their assigned opponent in order to advance to the medal rounds. The winner of each semifinal advances to the gold-medal final.


The Keirin pits riders against each other in mass sprints after initially being paced by a motorized bike called a derny. The pacer will begin at about 30 kilometers per hour and gradually increase the speed to over 50 kilometers per hour. With 600 meters remaining, the derny pulls off the track and leaves the competitors to battle it out for a massive sprint to the finish.

A typical field of 28 riders is first organized into four seven-person heats for the first round of competition. The fastest two riders from each heat automatically advance to the second round, while the remaining 20 riders are sent to a repechage round. In the ensuing repechage, riders are organized into four five-person heats, only the winner of each heat advance. The eight riders who originally advanced, plus the four repechage winners are organized into a pair of six-person heats. The top-three finishers advance to the finals.


The Madison is a mass-start event, with 18 two-person teams racing over a distance of 50 kilometers (200 laps). The winner is determined by scoring the most points of the teams who cover the greatest distance. Intermediate sprints are contested every 20 laps and are scored in the same way as the Points Race (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 3 points, 3rd place = 2 points and 4th place = 1 point).

During the Madison, only one rider on each team is actively competing while the other rests at the top of the track. Once a rider is ready to make an exchange, his teammate descends from the top of the track and is literally slung into the race. At the end of the race, only the teams who covered the most laps are eligible to win. Of the teams who covered the most laps throughout the race, the pair who accumulated the most points is declared the winner.

Team Sprint

The Team Sprint is a test of speed and teamwork as three-person teams work together to post the fastest time over 750 meters. A qualifying round first determines the fastest eight teams which will advance to the first round. Based on its qualifying times, teams are seeded. Three riders start each race, but only one finishes. The lead rider sets the pace for the first 250 meters then pulls off. After 500 meters, the second rider leaves the track while the anchor leg sprints it out for the final lap after drafting off his teammates for the first two laps. After the first round, the fastest two winners advance to the gold-medal final while the two other round-one winners advance to the bronze medal match.

Team Pursuit

Team Pursuit is run with teams of four riders who work together to achieve the fastest time. The competition begins with a 4-kilometer (16-lap) qualifying round. The fastest eight teams advance to the first round and are seeded accordingly. In round one, teams start on opposite sides of the track and pursue each other over a distance of four kilometers. The two winners with the fastest times advance to the gold-medal final, while the other two winners advance to the bronze-medal final. The winner of the finals is determined by either recording the fastest time or catching the opposing team.


The omnium event strings together several events to award a best all-around rider. At the Olympics, the events included in the overall omnium are Scratch, Tempo, Elimination, and Points races. Following the completion of each event, a rider is assigned a point value based on where he placed in that event (a first-place finish is worth one point, a second-place finish is worth two points, and so on). After all four events, the rider with the lowest cumulative point total is declared the winner.

Izu Velodrome

The competition will take place at the IZU Velodrome in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. indoor venue located in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, houses a 250-meter wooden cycling track that fully complies with the technical standards required by the UCI.

USA Cycling has seen success in this event with Sarah Hammer taking home the silver medal in both 2016 and 2012 in the Omnium. The Women’s Team Pursuit has also been successful in taking home the silver medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

How To Watch

Catch all the racing on the Olympic Channel and NBC.

Monday, August 2:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Women’s Team Sprint Qualifying, First Round & Finals
Women's Team Pursuit Qualifying
Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying

Tuesday, August 3:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Women’s Team Pursuit First Round & Finals
Men’s Team Pursuit First Round
Men’s Team Sprint Qualifying, First Round, & Finals

Wednesday, August 4:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Men’s Sprint Qualifying, 1/32 Final & 1/16 Finals
Women’s Keirin First Round
Men’s Team Pursuit Finals

Thursday, August 5:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Men’s Omnium: Scratch Race (1/4), Tempo Race (2/4), Elimination Race (3/4), & Points Race (4/4)
Men’s Sprint 1/8 Finals, Quarterfinals, & Finals 5th-8th Places
Women’s Keirin Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Finals 7th-12th Places, & Finals 1st-6th Places

Friday, August 6:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Women’s Sprint Qualifying, 1/32 Finals & 1/16 Finals
Men’s Sprint Semifinals & Finals
Women’s Madison Finals

Saturday, August 7:

Start Time: 15:30 JST

Women’s Sprint 1/8 Finals & Quarterfinals
Men’s Keirin First Round
Men’s Madison Final

Sunday, August 8:

Start Time: 10:00 JST

Women’s Omnium: Scratch Race (1/4), Tempo Race (2/4), Elimination Race (3/4), & Points Race (4/4)
Women’s Sprint Semifinals, Finals 5th-8th Places, & Finals 1st-6th Places
Men’s Keirin Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Final 7th-12th Places, & Finals 1st-6th Places

Who To Watch



Adrian Hegyvary (Seattle) – Madison

Gavin Hoover (Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling) – Madison & Omnium


Chloé Dygert (Brownsburg, Ind.; CANYON//SRAM Racing) – Team Pursuit

Maddie Godby (Louisville, Colo.) – Keirin & Sprint

Megan Jastrab (Apple Valley, Calif.; Team DSM) – Team Pursuit & Madison

Jennifer Valente (San Diego; Twenty24) – Team Pursuit, Madison, & Omnium

Emma White (Duanesburg, N.Y.; Rally Cycling) – Team Pursuit

Lily Williams (Tallahassee, Fla.; Rally Cycling) – Team Pursuit