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2012 Summer Olympics: Cycling

Mountain-bike racing — over forest roads, fields, dirt and gravel paths — was added to the Olympic cycling program, which had consisted of road and track cycling, in 1996. In 2008, BMX (or bicycle motorcross) joined the Olympics. This year, the new addition is the six-event omnium, to be contested over two days: a flying-start 250-meter race against the clock; a 30,000-meter endurance test in which points are awarded for periodic sprints and lapping the field; a 4,000-meter pursuit; a 15,000-meter scratch race; a 1,000-meter time trial; and an elimination race in which the last cyclist after every two laps is disqualified until only one rider remains.

DID YOU KNOW? Lance Armstrong competed in three Olympics, two of them before the first of his record seven Tour de France victories in 1999, and has only a single bronze medal — in the 2000 Sydney Games road time trial — to show for it. Armstrong was 14th in the 1992 Barcelona Games road race and sixth in the 1996 Atlanta Games road time trial before being diagnosed with cancer. He returned to competitive cycling a year later.

WATCH FOR: Great Britain’s Chris Hoy, a triple gold-medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games, returns in track cycling, powered by 27-inch thighs that allow him to go from 0 to 44 mph in less than 10 seconds. Hoy took up cycling at age 6 after seeing the BMX scene in the 1982 Steven Spielberg movie “ET.”

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