Explained: New omnium, keirin, sprint and Madison track cycling formats

Explained: New omnium, keirin, sprint and Madison track cycling formats

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The Great Britain Cycling Team are back on the track this week at the UEC European Track Cycling Championships in Paris.

It’s the first major international velodrome competition since Rio 2016 – and also the first event on the road to Tokyo 2020.

A number of new track cycling formats have been introduced by the UCI for world championship and world cup events and will also be used in France this week – with the biggest changes coming in the omnium.


The six-event omnium has now become a four-event pure-endurance competition, with all disciplines taking place in a single day.

The individual pursuit, 1km/500m time trial and flying lap have all been dropped from the omnium format, with the scratch race, elimination race and points race remaining.

Mark Cavendish competes in the elimination race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships

They’ll be joined by a new event – the tempo race. Run over 10km for men, and 7.5km for women, this bunch race features a sprint on every lap after the first four laps, with the first rider across the line winning one point. Any rider that gains a lap on the main field is awarded 20 points, with any rider that loses a lap on the main field deducted 20 points.

In the scratch race, tempo race and elimination race, the winner of each event gets 40 points, with the second placed rider getting 38, third placed earning 36 points, and so on.

As previously, the final event of the omnium will be the points race – where there has been a slight tweak to the rules. Double points are now in play in the final sprint, in order to keep races competitive in the last lap. This change also applies to the non-omnium points race. Taking a lap still earns a rider 20 points, while being lapped loses a rider 20 points.

Laura Trott competes in the points race in the omnium

Riders carry their points total from the first three events into the points race, where any points won or lost are added, or removed, from the total score. The omnium winner is the rider with the most points after four events.


As well as changes to the omnium, a number of other events have been modified by the UCI.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish compete in the Madison at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships

For the first time on the world stage, there will be a women’s Madison race. This event, run over 30km (120 laps) for women and 50km (200 laps) for men, sees pairs of riders team up and is best known for the hand-slings performed by riders to indicate who is currently active in the race.

The Madison format has been altered to be in line with the points race, meaning pairs will now gain 20 points for taking a lap on the rest of the field and with sprints taking place every 10 laps. Again, final sprints are now worth double points.

Other changes

The sprint and team sprint have also been slightly changed - 28, rather than 24 riders will now compete in the individual sprint.

Jason Kenny competes in the sprint for Great Britain Cycling Team

Following the qualifying flying 200m, the four athletes with the best times will skip the 1/16 finals and go straight to the 1/8 finals.

In the team sprint, a first round has now been introduced post-qualifying, to bring the event in line with the format of the Olympic Games.

The sprint distance in the keirin has been increased to three laps – a move that the UCI says has been made to make the race more tactical.

Becky James races in the keirin at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships

Qualifying has been brought in for the 1km and 500m time trial, with two riders taking to the track simultaneously in the heats, and finals being held individually in the evening sessions. This format will not be used in Paris and will make its debut at the world cup in Apeldoorn.

In the team pursuit, teams will also ride simultaneously in qualifying, and there will be no more finals for fifth and sixth or seventh and eighth places.