Olympic indoor cycling preview
Olympic indoor cycling has changed since Beijing and now features five events
For men, France's Grégory Baugé appears to be favorite over U.K's Chris Hoy
American Sarah Hammer could win gold in omnium's first Olympic appearance
Moving indoors, the saddle-shaped velodrome at Olympic Park will host the track events, contested on a 250-meter banked, wooden oval, on bikes with one gear and no brakes.
The track program has been reshuffled since Beijing, and now features the sprint (two riders going at it over 200 meters from a standing start); keirin (an odd, eight-lap race in which riders follow a moped called a derny for six or so laps until the derny peels off, triggering a mad and often crash-filled dash for the line); the omnium, in its Olympic debut (a kind of velo-decathlon, whose six events include a flying lap, individual pursuit and time trial); a team sprint and team pursuit.
Chris Hoy, U.K.: That's Sir Chris Hoy to you. The Flying Scotsman was knighted after winning three gold medals in Beijing, in the sprint, keirin and team sprint. He's likely to at least medal in the latter two. The favorite in the sprint looks like ...
Grégory Baugé, France: Baugé upset Hoy and his fellow Brit, Jason Kenny, to take the gold medal in the sprint at the recent world championships in Melbourne. That result left England's selectors scratching their heads over which rider -- Kenny or Hoy -- would get the nod to contest that event in the Olympics. They have until the evening of the event to decide. But there will only be room for one.
Sarah Hammer, U.S.: A former world champ in the individual pursuit, Hammer was crushed to see that event expelled from the Olympics. After tailoring her training to the omnium -- and working with British coach and former Olympic champion Jamie Staff -- Hammer won gold in that event at a World Cup event last February -- in the same velodrome where she'll compete in the Olympics.