Olympic Track Cycling Explainer: Sprint

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Olympics – Yolo BedTime

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Final: August 6 (men), August 8 (women).

How it works: In the medal rounds, two drivers complete three laps of the route, with the first driver to cross the finish line winning the race. The best of three wins a medal or goes to the next round. Sounds easy right?

Well, before these laps, the event begins with a series of qualifying races. The event begins with each rider completing a flying start time trial that measures the final 200 meters of the run (riders are given 2.5 laps to set off). Then drivers proceed to the knockout rounds based on the seeding, with the top qualifiers battling the bottom qualifiers until there are only four drivers left. Then it’s about the battle for the best two out of three for medals.

What to look out for: The sprint can be as great a test of patience as it is of strength, especially in the later laps when the top drivers compete against each other. Nobody wants to take the lead because driving in the slipstream gives a driver such a huge advantage. The drivers will play cat and mouse in the first few rounds and try to get their opponent to lead. Look out for a track stand appearance when two drivers stop and balance on the track in a high stakes chicken game.

Favorite men: Harrie Lavreysen (Netherlands), Jeffrey Hoogland (Netherlands), Azizulhasni Awang (Malaysia), Mateusz Rudyk (Poland)

Favorite women: Lee Wai-sze (Hong Kong), Stephanie Morton (Australia), Emma Hinze (Germany), Anastasia Voynova (Russian Olympic Committee)

North Americans: Lauriane Genest, Kelsey Mitchell, Hugo Barrette, Nick Wammes (Canada), Maddie Godby (USA)

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