Cycling at the Olympics

Cycling has been an Olympic sport since the very beginning of the modern Olympic Games. It made its first appearence at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens.

Bicylces had been around since the early 1800s, but they had only recently become popular. Can you imagine trying to race on the penny farthing? The bicycles at the first Olympics were much more like the bikes we ride today, with two wheels of the same size.

There was only one cycling event at the first modern Olympic Games: the men’s road race, which had only seven contestants. Five of them were from Greece!

Today there are 18 different events, with both men and women participating. In the men’s road race in 2012, there will be 145 contestants. That’s quite a step up from 1896! Probably the most famous New Zealand Olympic cyclist is Sarah Ulmer, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.