This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Laura Trott brought Great Britain its seventh gold medal of the Olympic Games, putting in a new track record in the 500m time trial, the last event of the omnium, to move into the overall victory ahead of the USA's Sarah Hammer.
The 20-year-old Trott, who was part of the winning pursuit team, became the country's second double gold medalist after Jason Kenny.
Hammer was leading the overall standings in the omnium by one point going into the finale, but the 500m time trial has never been her strongest event. Despite posting her personal best time, she was only ranked fourth in the test behind Australian Annette Edmondson (Australia), who secured the bronze medal with the second fastest time of the night.
Day one: The pecking order is established
The women's omnium got underway with the 250m time trial, a flying lap which was sure to be the domain of Frenchwoman Clara Sanchez. The sprinter had already shown her speed with a fourth place overall in the women's keirin, and as expected, she posted the fastest time and a new track record in 14.058. Australia's Edmondson was two tenths outside the mark, bettering the time of notable road sprinter Kirsten Wild (Netherlands). In a stunning performance of speed and technique, home favourite Trott sped around the track, quicker even than Sanchez, but only by one thousandth of a second.
That result put Trott in a prime position heading into the points race, but her competitors had a challenge in store. After a lackadaisical 10 laps, Edmondson opened with a win in the first sprint over two-time omnium world champion Whitten. Trott fired back, coming over the top of Cuban Marlies Mejias to win sprint two.
Trott ended up third on points after the the 10km points race
Now that the favourites had laid down trumps, it was time for the outsiders to attack: Belgian Jolien D'Hoore, Malgorzata Wojtyra, Maria Luisa Calle (Colombia), Angie Gonzalez (Venezuela) and Russian Evgeniya Romanyuta slipped away, staying clear for the third sprint which D'Hoore won.
It was an anglophonic alliance that went on to take a lap before the next sprint: Hammer, Whitten and Kiwi Jo Kiesanowski went clear and worked smoothly together to bring themselves on the same lap as the leader D'Hoore. The break succeeded in lapping the field before the next sprint, won by Tatsianan Sharakova (Belarus), who then kept the pressure on to gain a lap solo.
Trott was now up against the entire field, who would not let her get away. She was forced to respond to attacks from Hammer, Whitten and Edmondson who were content to let Wojtyra mop up more sprints along the way. Heading into the finale, the Polish rider led by an unbeatable margin of six points over Whitten, with Sharakova and Hammer and D'Hoore tied for third.
Trott got what she could out of the finale, taking the dash to the line over Sharakova, while Whitten smartly slotted in for two points in third place to secure third, with D'Hoore and Hammer rounding out the top five.
The result put Hammer out on top with 10 points, tied with Whitten, while Trott was one point in arrears. Edmondson sat fourth, four points behind the leaders heading into the elimination race.
Edmondson lead out the final sprint, but Trott and Hammer passed her
Sharakova took an early exit to drop down the standings, while the top five in the standings rode attentively at the front. Trott found herself too far back, having to slip through the middle in the sprint for 10th to avoid elimination. The British rider then launched a brisk acceleration that sent Whitten drifting back. Although she fought to get back in, it was too late for the Canadian and her eighth place pushed her back to fourth overall by the end.
The finale came down to a hotly contested final three, with Edmondson leading out the sprint for third then getting passed before the line by Trott and Hammer. The sprint for the victory started right out of the first turn, with Hammer trying to get the jump on Trott, but being unable to match the British rider's speed. Trott's win, her second of the day, put her on top although tied with Hammer at 12 points.
Day two: all about timing
In the individual purusit, Hammer showed why she holds the world record by winning in a time nearly a full second quicker than Trott, while Whitten also posted a strong time for third. Edmondson held the fourth best time to leave the standings in that order ahead of the scratch race in the evening.
The scratch race was an aggressive affair, with Trott and Hammer trading blows, while Whitten fought to protect her position in the medal hunt from the onslaught of Belgium's d'Hoore and Edmondson. In the end, the race came down to a bunch sprint with Hammer taking the lead with two laps to go and setting such a furious pace that Trott was swamped in the final push to the line. The British rider fought back hard to take third, with Edmondson getting over Hammer to win the race.
Whitten lost her third place spot to Edmondson due to a sixth place finish behind Wild and d'Hoore in the bunch sprint. Heading into the final event, the 500m time trial, Hammer held a two point lead over Trott, but the race was a specialty of the British rider. In the world championships and the London test event, Hammer's best 500 finish was fourth behind Trott, who won both. Hammer had to be top two, or if third place had to beat Trott on the accumulated time of their flying lap, pursuit and 500.
Edmondson readies for the sixth and final event in the women's omnium, the 500m time trial
It did not come down to that, however. Both riders put in their personal best times, Trott in a new track record of 35.111 to win the event, Hammer in 35.900 for the fourth best time behind Edmondson (35.140) and Clara Sanchez (35.451), but the result put the American one point down on the British rider.
A seventh gold for Great Britain, a second silver for Hammer and a bronze medal for the world champion Edmondson.
Chris Hoy rode into history to become Great Britain's most decorated Olympian, netting his sixth career gold medal by winning in the men's keirin in a scintillating final race of the 2012 Olympic Games track cycling competition.
Hoy bested German Max Levy and New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven to bring the British crowd to its feet in rapturous joy.
The kilomter time trial may have been axed from the Olympic programme after Hoy's gold medal in Athens in 2004, but that didn't stop him from using that talent to power away in each of the rounds to a magnificent margin of victory.
Hoy stayed low and out of the wind in third wheel
Matched up against those two riders in addition to Malaysia's Awang Azizulhasni, Shane Perkins (Australia) and Teun Mulder (Netherlands), Hoy slotted in the middle of the line-up behind the derny as the others fought for the protected spot in front in the six-lap race.
Levy and Perkins ganged up on Awang, with the German taking the derny, pushing Awang toward the back, but that didn't stop the scrappy Malaysian. Just as the derny prepared to pull off, he made his jump to the front, his early acceleration matched by Hoy.
Heading into two laps to go, Hoy made his move going around Awang on the outside and hitting the front. He maintained his violent pace, daring the others to hit the wind. They never did. Levy finally made his move on the outside in the final two bends, but Hoy had the shortest route in the sprinter's lane and the German never made it to the front.
Hoy drives for home as Great Britain again celebrates
Hoy re-accelerated as Levy fought off the push from Mulder in the middle, but it was van Velthooven who slipped up through the center to bring the silver medal to a three-way photo finish.
The German got the silver by a slim margin over the Kiwi, to bring his country's haul to five, three of which were silver.
Anna Meares gave the Australians their first cycling gold medal of the 2012 Olympic Games, defeating defending Olympic individual sprint champion and home hero Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain) in two races. Bronze medalist from Beijing Guo Shuang repeated her performance, winning over German Kristina Vogel in two races as well.
"I have to say this one is pretty sweet," Meares said of her second career gold medal which followed her early success in 2004 in the 500 meter time trial. "When I won gold in Athens as a young 20 year old, I was very inexperienced, and very much not expected to have that level of success. The expectation was different this time around.
"This is what I've targeted, after bronze (in the individual sprint) in Athens and silver in Beijing, I wanted to take one step higher. The challenge was a big one, and I didn't know if I would be capable of doing it."
In the controversy of the night, Meares was awarded the first race after a closely fought match in which Pendleton came out of the sprinter's lane, bumping elbows with Meares out of turn four. Minutes later, the news came through that Pendleton was relegated, but Meares had already gained confidence from how close she had come to beating her outright.
Rubbin' may be racin', but coming out of the sprinter's lane caused officials to relegate Pendleton
"It was so close, I thought that I had it. Then when I saw Victoria being given the number one position, I asked my coach Gary whether there would be a relegation, he said 'don't care, look towards the next race'.
"When the relegation came through, I said 'I could do this'. I got a lot of confidence out of that race and I think it showed in the second one."
Meares was clearly better in the second race, pushing Pendleton to a tactical disadvantage by pinning her high on the track and stripping her of the long sprint which is her strongest suit,
"I knew I was going to try that at the race," Meares said of the tactic. "Especially since Vicky is a phenomenal athlete from second position, she has fantastic top end speed. I knew when I drew number two first, it was my chance to get one notch up and the psychological advantage going into second round. I knew I would force her to the front again, and perhaps make her question her ability to hold me off at the end.
"That was my whole game plan, the whole way, from weeks ago."
Pendleton had already suffered punishment at the hands of the commissaires in the team sprint, with a hasty exchange denying her and Jess Varnish a chance at medals, but the sprint was her another chance to add another gold to her keirin win.
Meares took the second sprint straight up
She admitted that her second relegation was a mental blow. "I was really annoyed because I was sure that she touched me and it caused me to move up. I cannot believe twice in one competition that I have been relegated, disqualified, it's unheard of. It's a bit of surprise. It did knock my confidence a bit, I have to say. I really tried in that last ride."
In the second round, Meares dictated the race, keeping it slow and going up to the very top of the track high above turn four, bringing the pair to a near track stand. Of course the rules specify riders must continue at a walking pace, but the maneuver made Pendleton react, she dove down the banking heading into two to go, and had no choice but to try to leave Meares behind.
But it only took a moment's hesitation in Pendleton's speed, and Meares was on her, lurking as the British rider re-accelerated to the bell. Meares timed her jump perfectly into turn three, coming out of the last turn with a wheel's lead. The wind went out of Pendleton's sails, and Meares was able to pump her fist in victory as the crowds gave polite applause.
Pendleton, who is looking forward to hanging up her racing wheels now, was happy that her final race was a good one. "I am glad it got to that stage because I believe she's the best rider on the field. Anna and myself in the final, we have met many a time. I wish her all the best. I am glad to say that this is the last time I have to go through this."
For Guo, the race was a relief after her team's own relegation in the team sprint, when they went from gold to silver. "From day one after losing the gold on Thursday, I quickly adjusted myself," Guo said. "These few days have been difficult for me but I tried not to think too much about it. I felt sad when I saw peoples' encouraging messages after I lost the gold on the first day but I didn't want this feeling to affect me for the other events."
She quickly dispatched Vogel in two convincing rounds, but the German was pleased to get this far at her young age. "I'm further than I thought. When the frustration is over I'll be able to think: 'It's my first Olympic Games, I'm 21 years old and I go home with a gold medal and a fourth place. Is that nice or what?'"