The first Omnium event of the Olympics was a great success: two days of intense and technically very interesting competition ended yesterday with the victory of the Danish rider Lasse Hansen, who beat the Frenchman Bryan Coquard and the Brit Ed Clancy, member of the winning team in the Pursuit. The spectators in the Olympic Park velodrome showed their enthusiastic approval for all the various phases of this event, whose format is unique to cycling, which finally crowned three versatile athletes of high stature.
The elimination round, le Scratch and the kilometre â€“ in particular in the last stages, when the best riders were competing for a place on the podium â€“ triggered off peaks of enthusiasm resembling other specialities where medals are awarded, and the overall result of this initial Olympic experience must be considered as being very positive.
For sure, the Omnium is not like the individual sprint, which will capture the attention of the general public during the last-but-one session of the programme, with its long-awaited duel between Jason Kenny and Gregory BaugÃ©.
The pressure on the shoulders of the British rider â€“ preferred by the British Cycling management to Sir Chris Hoy, the Olympic Champion in Beijing, who would have liked to repeat the triple he achieved four years ago in China â€“ will be enormous, because he will have to make up for the absence in this specialty of the most popular British athlete, and win over the thousands of cycling enthusiasts.
For his part,Â HoyÂ has already helped Kenny a lot, by his legendary fair-play and elegance in avoiding any kind of media-fodder rivalry. So when the race begins, the whole country will be united behind Jason, in the hope that this timid-looking rider, without the natural charisma of his famed team-mate, will be able to extend the series of British victories.
Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, must in any case wait for tomorrow evening before returning to the limelight of these Olympic Games. In the Keirin and the individual sprint respectively, the two leaders of the strongest cycling team of all time will have the privilege of going for their second personal gold medal, during the final session of the Track events.