Track Cycling in the Olympics | Rio 2016 Team GB & Medal Contenders
Who's going to win a track cycling medal at Rio 2016?
In just a couple of weeks the Rio 2016 Velodrome will be packed with screaming fans cheering on their national champs as they battle to bring home a track cycling medal.
Britain dominated track cycling in London 2012 taking home 14 out of 18 available track cycling gold medals. Since then Team GB's track cycling squad has seen some big change as great names like Chris Hoy leaving the sport and new talent like Owain Doull joining the team. There are, however some older more experienced faces coming back into the squad. Mark Cavendish will be racing in Rio and Bradley Wiggins is also returning to the track for the Olympics.
Now with a mixture of up and coming athletes riding alongside established names, Team GB is heading into Rio 2016 with high hopes of bringing home more track cycling medals, but competition will be fierce as big international names like Kristina Vogel and head turning new blood such as Colombia's Fernando Gaviria throw their hats into the velodrome ring. With a field this packed with talent, who should you have your eye on during the track cycling events of Rio 2016?
Bradley Wiggins – Great Britain
Event: Team Pursuit
Why They're Worth Watching: Sir Bradley Wiggins is an all round cycling legend. With 4 Olympic Golds and a Tour De France under his belt there's not style of racing that Wiggo can't turn his hand to. Rio 2016 sees the British cycling phenomenon return to his track cycling roots in the Team Pursuit alongside a well balanced squad and a brand new Team GB bike packed with the latest cycling tech. With Wiggins insane work ethic Britain's Team Pursuit lads look like a solid bet to bring home some track cycling medals.
Mark Cavendish - Great Britain
Why They're Worth Watching: Mark Cavendish is competing in the Omnium this year and is hungry for his first Olympic track cycling medal. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics Mark didn't reach the podium, but the Manx Missile has enjoyed international success with 4 world championship titles and a commonwealth Gold to his name. Cavendish is so committed to his Olympic dream that he left this year's Tour de France early to concentrate on his preparation for Rio, despite enjoying a run of good form in the event, taking four individual stage wins and spending time in both the Yellow and Green Jersies. Ranked highly by both bookies and fans, Cavendish has the skill and the drive to really make his mark at Rio 2016.
Jason Kenny – Great Britain
Event: Keirin and Sprint
Why They're Worth Watching: Sprinting maestro Jason Kenny is a strong contender for add to Team GB's track cycling medal hall this summer. His first Olympic appearance in the 2008 Beijing Games saw Kenny walk away with a silver for Sprint and a Gold in the Team Sprint, while four years later at London 2012 he went one better, taking Gold in both events. With 19 international medals to his name and both an OBE and MBE for his services to cycling, track cycling medal hopes will be high for this seasoned Olympic veteran.
Odds: 5/1 Keirin, 2/1 Sprint
Laura Trott - Great Britain
Event: Omnium and Team Pursuit
Why They're Worth Watching: Despite the fact that she's just 24 years old, Laura Trott is already among the most decorated of British women's track cyclists, with two Olympic golds, seven World Championship golds and no fewer than ten European Championship golds to her name - and that's not even counting the silvers and bronzes. Not only that, but she competes in two technically very tricky events - the Omnium, which tests riders' skill in six separate track-based disciplines, and Team Pursuit, which requires great teamwork and communication. Having taken the track by storm and cleaned up in both events in London, she'll be hoping to repeat the feat in the Rio Velodrome this summer. Fun fact: She's engaged to fellow British cyclist Jason Kenny (see above).
Odds: 5/6 Omnium, 5/2 Team Pursuit
Joachim Eilers - Germany
Why They're Worth Watching: Joachim Eilers is the baby faced killer of track cycling. At 26 years old he's around the average age for an Olympian but his youthful looks hide years of experience with a cycling career that began at the tender age of 9. Though yet to take an Olympic medal Eilers is on a stunning run of form recently, taking home three medals at this year's World Championships in London. As the defending World Champion in both Time Trial and Keirin Joachim looks set to add some Olympic silverware to his stash of cycling track medals.
Zhong Tianshi - China
Why They're Worth Watching: Zhong Tianshi is one of the fastest women on the planet. At the 2015 World Championships she set a new World Record for Team Sprint alongside fellow powerhouse Gong Jinjie. Despite this impressive performance Zhong has no Olympic title yet, but has enjoyed an excellent run of form medaling consistently over the last two years in world championships. As the current Sprint World Champion Zhong looks like a good bet for another track cycling medal this summer.
Eddie Dawkins – New Zealand
Why They're Worth Watching: Eddie Dawkins is a double threat for the Kiwi Olympic team, competing in multiple Olympic track cycling events. Though primarily a Team Sprinter, Big Dawk is also a force to be reckoned with in Keirin, coming second to Olympic favourite Joachim Eilers by just two one thousands of a second at the London World Championships this year. Dawkins is on top form at the moment medalling consistently over the last couple of years at both World Championship and Commonwealth level. With one Olympics already under his belt the powerful New Zealand rider knows what it takes to compete on the world's biggest stage and will be keen to show Eilers what he's truly capable of at Rio 2016.
Fernando Gaviria - Colombia
Why They're Worth Watching: At just 21, Fernando Gaviria is one of the younger track cyclists competing at this year's Games. Competing internationally since 2012, Gaviria grabbed everyone's attention at the at the 2015 Tour de San Luis, where he beat Team GB's Mark Cavendish in two sprint finishes. The young Colombian clearly made an impression, signing later that year to the same team as Cavendish, Etixx-Quick Step. Gaviria has also held the Omnium World Championship title for the past two years making him a sure fire favourite to take another track cycling medal in Rio.
Francois Pervis - France
Why They're Worth Watching: With 18 international medals, Francois Pervis has been stamping his name across track cycling for almost a decade. At 31 years old the French rider is nearing the end of his international career but doesn't show signs of slowing down, taking world championship titles in both Keirin and Time Trial last year. Despite facing plenty of younger legs in the Keirin, such as Brit hopeful Jason Kenny and Kiwi Eddie Dawkins, Pervis' years of experience in the saddle could still be worth their weight in Olympic Gold.
Kristina Vogel - Germany
Event: Sprint and Keirin
Why They're Worth Watching: Germany's international track cycling medal tally would look very different without Kristina Vogel, averaging three medals a year since 2010, she consistently delivers results. Specialising in Sprint and Kerin events, Vogel is one half of the current Olympic champion pairing for Team Sprint.Since 2014 Kristina's medal haul has been almost exclusively one colour, Gold, and that doesn't look like a trend that will stop at Rio.
Odds: 7/2 Sprint, 5/2 Keirin
Lin Junhong - China
Why They're Worth Watching: China's second entry for the 2016 Olympic Sprint title, Lin Junhong is still a strong contender for the crown. Finishing in second place behind her team mate, Zhong Tianshi in this year'sWorld Championships put her ahead of German medal machine Kristian Vogel and into the bookies top picks for a Rio 2016 track cycling medal. Enjoying the same odds as both Tianshi and Vogel, Jonhong's presence at this summer's games means that the Women's Sprint should be one of the most hotly contested events of Rio 2016.