Madison: Everything you need to know about the new event in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Get to know the madison for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Mørkøv riding the Madison world championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Making it's return at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Madison is a popular event in the velodrome and has attracted some of the biggest names in cycling to compete over the years. The events will take place between August 6 and 7.

TOKYO 2020 CYCLING: MADISON

The Madison sees teams of two take to the track in a mass rolling start. Each team must have just one rider racing at one time though with the riders performing a hand sling to throw their team-mate into the action for a lap or two while the other rests.

The aim is to take more laps than your opponents by pushing out in front either on your own or with other teams to then get back to the rear of the leading main bunch. This can become confusing as often races can be split all over the track and some may think they have made the lap but in fact need to make it through another group of riders.

If you take a lap you gain 20 points on your rivals with riders who lose a lap getting a deduction of 20 points. 

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

It isn't all about laps though as the riders also have to battle for sprint points too. This could be decisive if riders are tied on laps at the end of the race. If they are level after this then it will be based on where the riders placed in the final sprint.

The sprint points available are five, three, two and one point(s) with a whistle blown to indicate that the lap is a sprint lap. A bell will ring for the start of the final lap of the race. Sprint points are doubled on the final lap.

Riders who are racing should stay as close to the bottom of the track as possible and rider changes should also happen low on the track below the 'stayers line' on the track. This is the zone between the black and red lines in the bottom half of the track.

The change is often a hand-sling but a push is also allowed if the former is not possible.

Once a rider has done the rider should move as high up on the track as they can to avoid disrupting the racing below them.

If one of the two riders in a team suffers a mechanical or crashes they will be allowed to rejoin the race but it must be within two laps. This will leave the other rider on their own. Sometimes the chief commissaire will pair the rider off with another team.

The Madison has been in the Olympic Games before from 2000 to 2008 but was removed from the Games in London back in 2012 due to the fact that there was no women's race at the time.

This has since changed and the sport makes its return to the Games in Tokyo.

The last winners of the gold medal in the event for the men were the Argentinian duo, Walter Pérez and Juan Curuchet in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The 

British duo of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins took part that year. They later went on to become world champions just before Wiggins retired from the sport.

This year's event will see 16 teams of two riders take part, meaning there will be 32 riders on the track at the same time at the Izu Velodrome. The favourites are world champions and well-known road cyclists, Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark in the men's and Kirsten Wild and Amy Pieters of the Netherlands in the women's.

The race is named after the first event in Madison Square Garden in New York but is known by different names around the world. In France, it is known as the Course à l'Américaine and as Americana in Spain and Italy.

TOKYO 2020 MADISON SCHEDULE

Friday, August 6, 3.30pm - 5.15pm Japan/7.30am - 9.15am UK

Women's Madison Final
Women's Madison Victory Ceremony

Saturday, August 7, 3.30pm - 6.25pm Japan/7.30am - 10.25am UK

Men's Madison Final
Men's Madison Victory Ceremony

Tim Bonville-Ginn
Tim Bonville-Ginn

Tim Bonville-Ginn is one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter.


Bonville-Ginn started working in cycling journalism while still at school and university for a voluntary site based on Twitter before also doing slots for Eurosport's online web team and has been on location at the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain, UCI World Championships and various track events. He then joined the Cycling Weekly team in late February of 2020.


When not writing stories for the site, Bonville-Ginn doesn't really switch off his cycling side as he watches every race that is televised as well as being a rider himself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager.


He rides a Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on his local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being his preferred terrain.