Host City: Sydney, Australia
Date Started: September 16, 2000
Date Finished: September 20, 2000
Participants: 462 (341 men and 121 women) from 55 countries
Youngest Participant: Geneviève Jeanson (19 years, 29 days)
Oldest Participant: Étienne De Wilde (42 years, 30 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel (4 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Germany (10 medals)
There were several changes to the Olympic Program in 2000, all on the track. The women’s program added a fourth event – the 500 metre time trial added to the match sprint, individual pursuit, and points race. For men, three events were added. These were related to the addition of professional riders that had occurred at the 1996 Olympics, and were all events contested at the World Championships by professionals. The new events were the keirin, the Madison, and the Olympic sprint.
The keirin is one of the most exciting events in cycling because of the speeds. The event is a 2,000 metre paced event, in which the riders ride behind a motorized derny, which increases the potential speeds. The derny paces the riders for about 1,500 metres and then pulls off the track, at which time the cyclists begin a furious sprint to the finish. Keirin racing has traditionally been raced in Japan, where it has been a professional sport since the 1970s, and in which pari-mutuel betting on the riders is permitted.
The Madison is a mass-start team event with two riders per team. It is similar to a team points race, as points are awarded to the top finishers at the intermediate sprints and for the finishing sprint. Only one of the two team riders is actively racing at any one time, riding for a number of laps, and then exchanging with his partner, who is propelled into the pack by a hand sling from the cyclist leaving the racing.
The Olympic sprint is a team sprint event, similar to a shorter team pursuit, with each team consisting of three riders. Two teams compete against each other, starting on opposite sides of the track, with the goal being to catch the other team, or finish three laps of the track first. Each of the three riders leads their team for a single lap, and then drops off the track. The team time is that achieved when the final rider crosses the line.
The road race and mountain biking program in 2000 was the same as in 1996. Men and women contested an individual mass start road race, and individual road time trial, and a cross-country mountain biking event. The mountain bike races took place at Fairfield City Farm, while the road races were conducted on courses laid out around Sydney. The Olympic Velodrome was an indoor facility with a 250 metre wooden surfaced track.
The star of cycling in Sydney was Dutchwoman Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel. Long one of the top riders in the world, she had battled personal demons, notably bouts of anorexia nervosa, but in Sydney won three gold medals in the road race, road time trial, individual pursuit, and silver in the points race.