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Guide to the Team Pursuit

"I live and die for the team pursuit. That's in my heart and what gets me out of bed", explained Ed Clancy, reigning team pursuit gold medallist and rider for Rapha Condor Sharp.

Ed and Andy were also part of the four man team that set a new world record in April clocking 3 minutes 53.295 seconds. Then in the qualifying round of the 2012 Team Pursuit set an even faster world record that could not be beaten by closest rivals, the Australians.

Event Format

Team pursuit is a short event. A team of 4 (3 for women) must cycle 4 kilometres (3km for women) as fast as possible with the time of the third rider taken as the finish time.

World Record

3:53.295 secs (set by Team GB in April 2012)

Olympic Format

A qualifying round which allows the teams to be seeded for round one. The winners of the two heats between the top four teams advance to the finals.

When to Watch

Team Pursuit Qualifying:
Team Pursuit Round 1 - Friday 3rd August 16.18
Team Pursuit Finals Gold Medal Ride - Friday 3rd August 17.55

Tactics and Technique

Riders follow each other closely to maintain an aerodynamic shape and reduce drag.

To ensure riders keep a high speed and conserve energy they must spend a minimum time on the front.

They change positions every lap or half a lap but to do this the rider on the front moves up the track on the bend. This is like riding uphill, the higher up the track the rider moves the further they have to travel. The riders at the lower part of the track pass below and gravity brings them back down to join the back of the team. The team GB pursuit team practise hard to ensure they are no more than an inch from the wheels of their team mates.

With only three riders required to cross the line fourth team member (Ed Clancy) usually takes a huge turn on the front towards the end. This allows his teammates to recover in order to make a final collective dash for the line.


Rider Insight

Ed explained the Olympic format means they have just have one hour to recover between round one and the final.

"We knew the format would be different from normal World Championship races and have done specific training to prepare. We've raced across two days before, but it will be a bit different on the second day, having the semi-finals and finals so close together."

He explained the two finalist will be in the same situation: "But it's the same for everyone. Every team is going to have to get up to race the finals with tired legs."

Ed will be rider 'one' to lead the team off and will turn a huge 108 inch gear to start, this is about 53/13t chainring. Andy is the third or fourth rider and he has a tactical role so takes a longer turn before swinging off each lap. His job ensures the highest speed is maintained.

How do they know they are riding on schedule? See this video below.

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