Olympic Track Cycling Explainer: Madison


Olympics – Yolo BedTime

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Final: August 6th (women) August 7th (men)

How it works: The Madison is a relay race with two drivers in which only one driver is “in the race” at a time. Points are awarded in intermediate sprints throughout the race, and teams can also earn points by lapping the field – but they can also lose points by lapping them. The final sprint gives the winners double points.

The men drive 200 laps (50 km), the women 120 laps (30 km). In both races, 16 teams of two will race through the velodrome. The defining image of the Madison is the handover, in which the actively driving teammate connects his hands with the resting teammate and then hurls the driver back into the race from behind to fight for the points.

What to look out for: Nowadays, victory is almost always decided by lapping the field – sometimes twice – so keep an eye out for teams ready to attack during a lull. Cagy teams often let the newbies go for the opening sprint before they pounce, so look for the seasoned teams from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands waiting for their turn to pounce on the field when legs and lungs are tired. The best riders are endurance riders who can feel the mood of the peloton and know when to attack.

Favorite men: Denmark, New Zealand, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands

Favorite women: Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Italy

North Americans: Jennifer Valente and Megan Jastrab (USA), Derek Gee and Michael Foley (Canada), Adrian Hegyvary and Gavin Hoover (USA)

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