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Dad, what's an omnium?

Way back when...

Way back when... (Image credit: AFP)

The UCI's decision to re-introduce the 'omnium' to the Track Cycling World Championships has generally met with a positive response, from those who actually know what it is. Gerard Knapp of Cyclingnews reports.

What's an omnium? Well, it's not just youngsters who could be forgiven for asking that question, as the combination track cycling event – like the pentathlon in athletics but without any guns* - has not been seen at the world championship level for almost 40 years.

The most 'recent' winner of an omnium at the world's level was none other than Patrick Sercu, the most successful Six Day racer ever and now impresario of many current Six Day events. A UCI executive believed he last won the omnium at the worlds in 1968 – "or it might have 1970," he said.

Sercu has lobbied the UCI for its reinstatement into the track worlds program and the sport's ruling body announced at the world road championships in Salzburg this year that it will be re-introduced at the 2007 track worlds, to be held at the – still to be completed – new velodrome in Palma de Mallorca, the Spanish holiday island destination.

Further, in 2008 the UCI will also introduce the women's team pursuit (see feature), as it continues to develop the track cycling program in an effort to increase its popularity. It's understood that the UCI will allow up to five riders to qualify in the women's team pursuit, but the event itself will feature teams of three riders racing over 3km.

However, it's the re-introduction of the omnium – so far for men only - that has coaches and riders alike wondering how it will be accommodated in this day of specialization. In modern competition, a track cyclist is either a sprinter or an endurance rider, with few having the ability to be competitive in both styles of event.

The modern omnium – and it should be pointed out these are regularly held at regional track racing carnivals in several countries, particularly the UK – will involve five events.

To read the full feature, click here.

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