Team sprint: Everything you need to know about the track discipline at the Tokyo 2020 Games

The event, which sees two teams go head-to-head, is always a thrilling spectacle during the Olympics

China in the team sprint at the Tokyo Olympics
(Image credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The team sprint returns to the Olympics for the Tokyo 2020 Games - here is everything you need to know about the discipline. 

First introduced to the Olympics for the men in 2000 and then for the women in 2012, the event sees two teams of two or three riders go head-to-head, with each rider having a specific role to play within the race.

In the men’s competition, three riders compete for three laps, but in the women’s event it's two riders over two laps. 

The first rider will aim to get off the line as fast as possible and hit the front for their team, allowing the two riders behind to get up to speed in the slipstream. 

That rider will then peel off, handing over to the second rider in the team who will complete a lap, before peeling off themselves for the final rider to finish off the race. 

The quickest team over the two or three laps takes the honours.

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, teams will start off with a qualifying round where they will ride alone on the track, before the head-to-head rounds in the next stage. 

Teams take to the track at the same time, starting on opposite sides of the velodrome. 

In the medal sessions, the two fastest teams will compete for gold and silver, while the third and fourth best teams will have to fight for the bronze. 

>>> Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling schedule: when to watch the racing

The men’s world record heading into the Tokyo Olympics was held by the Netherlands, with Jeffrey Hoogland, Harrie Lavreysen and Roy van den Berg setting a 41.275 during the 2020 World Championships in Berlin.

Olympic cycling disciplines: Madison, team pursuit, omnium, track sprint , Keirin

For the women, the world record was previously held by China’s Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi, who set a 31.928 during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But that record has already been beaten in Tokyo, as the Chinese pairing of Bao Shanju and Tianshi set a 31.804 on the first day of track competition. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics team sprint schedule 

Monday, August 2, 3.30pm - 6.30pm Japan/7.30am - 10.30am UK

Women’s team sprint qualifying
Women’s team sprint first round
Women’s team sprint finals
Women’s team sprint victory ceremony 

Tuesday, August 3, 3.30pm - 6.10pm Japan/7.30am - 10.10am UK

Men’s team sprint qualifying
Men’s team sprint first round
Men’s team sprint finals
Men’s team sprint victory ceremony 

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.