Competition Format: There are 18 different events in both Men's and Women's between Road Cycling, Track Cycling, Mountain Biking, and BMX
What to Watch For: Road Cycling is basically like a toned down Tour de France (I guess Tour de London in this case). There are two events - the Road Race and the Time Trial. In the Road Race, all the competitors start at the same time and sprint to the finish. In the Time Trial, competitors start separately. Track Cycling is kind of like NASCAR on bikes. Competitors race around a track with banked curves to help them maintain speed. Some races are as short as 3 laps. Mountain Biking is a race on a course that has built in obstacles to attempt to simulate actual mountain biking. The Mountain Bike course has a "pit stop" area where riders can go to do repairs on their bike during the race, adding a bit of strategy to the event as well. If you've seen the X Games, you've probably seen something similar to BMX. Basically, it's like a Mario Kart race on bikes. Short and sweet on a dirt course packed with bikes.
How the US might fare: In Beijing, the US took home a gold and Bronze in Road Cycling. In all, the US took home 5 medals in Cycling. They will get strong competition from the teams from host Great Britain who cleaned house in Beijing winning 8 gold medals. In all, 9 different countries won Gold in the 18 events in Beijing and 20 different countries won at least one medal. Cycling is a wide open field that anyone can win if they hit the secret jump just right on Rainbow Road.
Competition Format: Both Men and Women compete as individuals in the Triathlon. The Triathlon consists of 3 stages - a 1500 meter swim, a 43km bike ride and a 10K run. To put this in Pittsburgh terms, it would be like swimming from the Aspinwall Marina to the Highland Park Bridge, biking out to the airport, then running from the airport up to Robert Morris.
What to Watch For: Triathlon is still a relatively new event for the Olympics, debuting in the 2000 games in Sydney. In the 6 Olympic competitions so far there have been 6 different nations win Gold (Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, and Australia). Translation: The US is due to win this. The US has 5 triathletes competing (2 men and 3 women). Countries may only field 6 participants and only 6 nations have fielded the maximum (Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Spain).
This might be the strangest sentence you will read in our Olympics previews: This will be the 100th year the Modern Pentathlon will be part of the Olympic Games. The idea of the Pentathlon dates back to the Ancient Greek Olympics when it included long jump, javelin, discus, wrestling and a race. On the track and field side, these events are all now included in the Decathlon, which we will discuss more in detail in the post on Track and Field. The Modern Pentathlon features 5 completely different events: Epee (Fencing), Show Jumping (Equestrian), Pistol Shooting, Swimming, and Running. The planners of the Pentathlon must have watched a lot of Nordic Combo in the Winter Games or they like idea of a hit and run. The Shooting and Running portions of the event have been combined so that athletes will run a km, fire 3 rounds from a pistol, then run another km, and repeat.
Russia and Germany won gold in Beijing with Lithuania taking both Silver and Bronze in the Men's competition. Eastern Europeans are really good at the Pentathlon as Russia, Hungary, and Ukraine dominated at the 2011 World Championships.