Host City: St. Louis, United States
Date Started: August 2, 1904
Date Finished: August 5, 1904
Participants: 18 (18 men and 0 women) from 2 countries
Youngest Participant: J. Nash McCrea (17 years, 202 days)
Oldest Participant: Charles Schlee (31 years, 15 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Burton Downing (6 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (21 medals)
The cycling events of the 1904 Olympic Games were contested from 2-5 August on the Olympic stadium track at Francis Field. It was described as "a track of cinders, flat as a billiard table, very dry and dusty." The cycling events were very poorly attended. The Bicycling World listed the crowd as 125 people on 2 August and noted that there were only "a few spectators" on 3-5 August.
Multiple events were contested at the 1904 Olympic Games. This included both handicap events as well as events for professionals. In the past the cycling events of the 1904 Olympics have not always been included in the Olympic sports because of some suspicion that the amateurs and professionals competed together. That is not correct. They did not compete together in any event although professional and amateur events were held on the same days on the same track. Certainly only the amateur events which were not handicap events should be considered as Olympic sports. Below I have listed all the results of all the events, including the amateur handicap, professional scratch, and professional handicap events. Of note, America's greatest track cyclist ever, Frank Kramer, competed in the 1904 professional events and won several of them.
Among the amateur cyclists, the events were dominated by Marcus Hurley who won four gold medals and six medals in all, from among the seven events contested. He was pressed by Burton Downing of San Jose, California and Teddy Billington of Vailsburg, New Jersey. Hurley, later that year, would win the world amateur sprint championship but never competed much in cycling after 1904. He entered Columbia University where he became an All-American basketball player and one of the greatest players of that era. Downing retired from cycling after the 1904 Olympics and eventually became a renowned architect. Almost nothing is known about Billington's life. However, it is known that his bicycle did not arrive in St. Louis on the train which brought him and he competed at the St. Louis cycling competitions on a borrowed cycle.
No foreign cyclists competed at the 1904 cycling events. However, there were foreign entrants, specifically those from the Radfahrerbund from Berlin, Germany. Given that professionals and amateurs did not compete against each other, given that the competitions were open to all competitors, and since there were foreign entrants, there is every justification to call the cycling events of the 1904 Olympics as Olympic events.