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Guide to the Omnium

Pursuit Bike

Several blue riband track events were dropped from the Olympic programme to make way for other sports including women's boxing and mixed doubles tennis.

The Omnium was introduced as a new track event, similar in format to decathlon in athletics. It tests an athletes all-round ability, they must have sprinters legs but be able to hold a high speed as well as being a tactician.

Britain's hopes for medals in the Omnium are in the form of Rapha Condor Sharp's Ed Clancy and the young, very talented Laura Trott.

Event Format

6 events across 2 days of competition. In each event the winner gets one point, the second placed rider gets two points, the third three points, and so on. At the end of all six events the rider with the lowest total score is the winner.
Day 1 - Flying lap TT, 30km points race and elimination race
Day 2 - 4km Pursuit, 15k scratch race, 1km TT

When to Watch

Men's Omnium - Saturday 4th - Flying Lap 10.30, 30km Points race 16.54, Elimination race 18.25
Sunday 5th August 4km Individual pursuit 10.00, Scratch race 17.01, 1km TT 18.16

Womens Omnium - Monday 6th August - Flying Lap 16.00, 20km Points race 17.06, Elimination race 18.18
Tuesday 7th August - Individual pursuit 10.19, Scratch race 16.09, 500m TT 16.53

Techniques and Tactics

  • Flying Lap TT - riders get 2 1/2 laps to accelerate up to speed and 1 lap to set their time. Both Ed Clancy and Laura Trott are particularly good at this event.
  • Points Race - a mass start race that favours riders with sprinting ability. Every 10 laps a bell is rung and the next passage over the line riders are awarded points. 1st receives 5 points, 2nd 4 points etc. At the end of the event the rider with the most points wins. If a rider is able to get away from the field and gain a lap they will earn an extra 20 points and this is often the way to win the event. Expect lots of jostling for position as riders try to get to the line to win points on the bell laps.
  • Elimination Race - also known as the Devil.
    A staple of European show events, the race was originally set to circus music. It is an exciting race for the crowd to watch as every other lap sees the last rider over the line eliminated. Tactics come into play here if you stay at the back of the pack you save energy but you need to accelerate harder and ride around riders to ensure you are not at the back when you pass over the line. Laura Trott is a master of this event - take a look at the video and watch the rider in the GB red/blue skinsuit.

  • Individual Pursuit - track racing in its purest form. A former Olympic discipline and a blue riband event of track racing. Two riders start at opposite sides of the track and race against the clock over 16 laps (12 laps for women). Expect Ed Clancy to shine in this event.
  • Scratch Race - all riders start from the same point on the track with the winner being the first to cross the line. Race is 16km or 10km for women. Attacks start to occur in the final 6 laps of the race. If you attack but get caught you'll be unlikely to recover for the final sprint but whoever chases the break down will be in the same boat. It is this indecision in the main field that could allow a rider to escape and win.
  • 1km TT - a perfect event for Ed Clancy. Riders start from a gate and ride 4 laps of the track in the fastest time possible. Good starting technique is essential as it can save a lot of time.

Rider Insight

Clancy, who is a clear favourite in the time trial based events (individual pursuit, flying lap and individual time trial) spoke recently of his preparations for the race:

“When the other lads were out on the road this morning, I was on the track doing a motor paced session and a few little sprints in the middle to help my points race. I also watch recordings of previous race footage to hone my tactics. Really though I get most of what I need from training with the other team pursuit boys and in my road training.”

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