On the 13th of October, the UCI announced new changes to the Track Omnium, designed to make the race more spectator friendly. Today’s Victorian Omnium Championship, held at DISC in Melbourne, Australia, was the first women’s Omnium in the world to follow the new rules (after the first men’s event at the European Championships last night). The new format was well-received by riders, officials and audience members alike.
What is an Omnium?
The word omnium means ‘of all’ in Latin, which signifies the intent of the race – to find the best all-round cyclist. The Omnium has been contested at the World Championships since 2007 and replaced the Points Race, Individual Pursuit and Madison at the Olympic Games in 2012. The Omnium is a series of races held in succession, with points awarded based on the position of riders in each race (recently with the exception of the points race, which adds points directly to a rider’s total.)
What are the new changes?
Up until this year, the Omnium has consisted of the following six races:
- Scratch Race
- Individual Pursuit
- Elimination Race
- Time Trial
- Flying Lap
- Points Race
The Omnium in its previous form was generally contested over a number of days as the three timed events are rather time-consuming. The new format, which is designed to run on a single day, consists of the following races:
- Scratch Race
- Tempo Ronde
- Elimination Race
- Points Race
Points are awarded to riders as follows: 1st place receives 40 points, 2nd receives 38, 3rd receives 36 and so on down to 20th place. Points accumulated in the points race, as before, are added directly to a rider’s total, but with an added twist: the points in the last sprint are doubled (from the usual 5-3-2-1 to 10-6-4-2) to ensure that the race hangs in the balance until the very end.
What is a Tempo Ronde?
This question has been on everyone’s minds since the changes were announced. The Tempo Ronde has never before been a part of any championship event, nor is it a familiar name in club track racing.
The Tempo Ronde is a massed start race designed to encourage attacking riding and exciting racing. After four free laps, one single point is awarded to the winner of every lap. No points are awarded for second, nor are extra points awarded for the final sprint. Should a rider take a lap on the field, he or she receives four points bonus.
How did it go?
Predictably, the Tempo Ronde was the most interesting addition to the format. The pace was generally high in all categories, breakaways were frequent, both by individual riders and by small groups who cooperated to share the points accumulated in their break.
The capacity to complete the Omnium in a single day added another dimension to the race. In the previous format, riders had a significant rest period between the more draining of the events, which were interspaced by the shorter timed events. As such, riders were generally reasonably fresh for the Points Race, which is the last race on the program and often the most decisive. In the new format, however, any decision to work too hard in the earlier races could cause riders to suffer in the points race.
Finally, the doubled points in the final sprint added an extra element of suspense – in none of the seven categories was the leading rider secure in their place until after the final sprint, keeping the audience and riders on the edge of their seats until the very end. We saw this in the Open Women’s division with only three points between first and second overall.
Seda Camgoz Posselt, the 2014 Victorian Omnium Champion, reflected on the differences between the new and old formats. “The new format Omnium racing is a little more strategically involved and very exciting! I do love the Individual Pursuit – individual events where you put yourself into a pure pain-zone work well for me. So in this aspect the previous format suited me a lot better, but I think the new format is more interesting for both spectators and participants.”
Congratulations to all of the riders who competed in the new format Omnium. We hope you enjoyed racing it as much as we enjoyed watching it!
- Monica Kelly (Horsham Cycling Club)
- Seda Camgoz Posselt (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Kelland O’Brian (St Kilda Cycling Club)
- Matthew Ross (Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club)
- Alex Morgan (Blackburn Cycling Club)
Junior 19 Women
- Sarah Gigante (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Alice Culling (Ararat Cycling Club)
- Georgia O’Rouke (Carnegie-Caulfield Cycling Club)
Junior 19 Men
- Godfrey Slattery (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Isaac Buckell (Bendigo Cycling Club)
- Connor Sens (Bendigo Cycling Club)
- Emma Jackson (Castlemaine Cycling Club)
- Rebecca Williamson (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Samantha Sutton (Brunswick Cycling Club)
Masters 1-4 Men
- Garth Hircoe (Preston Cycling Club)
- Iain Clarke (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Stan Thomas (Shepparton Cycling Club)
Masters 5+ Men
- Richard Hood (Brunswick Cycling Club)
- Greg Walker (Carnegie-Caulfield Cycling Club)
- Piers Fraser (Australian Defence Force Cycling Club)