Host City: Beijing, China
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 23, 2008
Participants: 508 (361 men and 147 women) from 66 countries
Youngest Participant: Adam Craig (17 years, 9 days)
Oldest Participant: Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (49 years, 287 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Chris Hoy (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Great Britain (14 medals)
As in 2004, the Olympic Program consisted of 11 cycling events for men, and seven events for women. But there was a big change. Historically the two main disciplines of cycling had been track and road cycling. In 1996, a third discipline, mountain biking, was added to the Olympic Program for both men and women. In 2008, another discipline, BMX Racing, was added to the Olympic Program with an event for men and women. This version of the sport was derived from motocross racing – BMX is short for bicycle motocross. These races are mass start sprint races on specially built off-road single-lap race tracks, with numerous short climbs and jumps added. Very popular among younger generations, it is also visually appealing on television and both reasons led the IOC and UCI to add it to the Olympic Program. Because of the IOC’s stated goal of keeping the Olympic Program, and the number of athletes, under control, the addition of BMX meant that other events would have to be removed from the Olympic Program. The events chosen were the track race of 1 km. time trial for men and 500 metre time trial for women. The men’s kilometer time trial had been an Olympic event since 1928, and there were some initial protests from cyclists, but at Beijing there was little mention of its Olympic demise.
With the exception of the addition of BMX events and the elimination of the track time trials, the program was the same as at Athina. The track events were held at the Laoshan Velodrome, an indoor facility with a 250-metre wooden-surface track. Mountain biking and BMX racing were conducted on special courses built especially for the Olympics. All four of the road races were contested over the same Beijing Road Cycling Course, which featured a very steep climb near the finish of the loop. The various events consisted of differing numbers of laps over the course.
The story of the 2008 Olympic cycling was the performance of Great Britain’s cycling team. Led by Chris Hoy, who won three gold medals, the team won 14 medals and eight gold medals. This was the result of a concentrated effort by the British cycling federation, which nationalized the cycling program, and had also resulted in many medals at the Worlds and other international events.