Track cycling has been in the Olympic Games since the 1896 edition in Athens, the first in the modern era. It has been contested at all editions since then, apart from in Stockholm 1912, when only road cycling took place.
Since the first official competitions in 1870, cyclists have competed in velodromes mounted in indoor arenas. The indoor environment was chosen so that races would not suffer from the effects of the weather, while promoters were happy to be able to charge spectators to watch the races.
In track cycling, the bicycles are designed to reach the maximum possible speed. They have only one gear and no brakes, as stopping suddenly during a race would pose a serious risk of accident on the track.
Women started to participate in track cycling at the Seoul 1988 Games, in sprint events.
The sport’s Olympic programme features five events, each with a men's and women's conmpetition: sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit and omnium.
The omnium event, which debuted at the London 2012 Games, is similar to the decathlon or heptathlon, with cyclists competing in six races: flying lap, points race, elimination, individual pursuit, scratch and a time trial. The winner is the rider with the highest accumulated score.