Peloton Watch
  Elinor Barker Blog: GP Poland Omnium  
  July 9th 2014 By Elinor Barker  
  While the Tour de France went through the Yorkshire lanes, I jetted off to Warsaw to ride the Poland GP and the first omnium in the exciting new format. As part of the qualifying procedure for World Cups, races like this are a good way to get some mid-season track racing in and, for me, ideal prep for the Commonwealth Games this month. The field was pretty impressive and the race attracted some big names including Kirsten Wild, Stephanie Pohl, Evgenia Romanyuta and Anna Knauer so Iím fairly happy to have come home with seventh overall and a good weekend of racing under my belt.

Like many others I was initially sceptical about the changes to the well-loved omnium structure and wasnít sure what effect it would have on the way riders chose to race. The breakdown of the new format is as follows: Day 1; scratch, IP, elimination. Day 2; 500m TT, flying lap, points race. Points are now given in reverse with the winner of each event receiving 40pts, second place getting 38 and so on. An added twist is that this scoring system is scrapped for the final event, and all points won here are added directly to the final tally to give the overall scores. Previously riders could occasionally make it to the remaining few races knowing that mathematically, it would be impossible for them to finish either outside or inside of the podium places. The new system could hypothetically change everything, as there is technically no limit to the number of points that can be scored when lap taking is taken into consideration. This is great news for riders who enter the points race a little further down the field than desired, but could potentially mean that the top spots are harder to hold onto in the last 100 laps of racing.

Analysing the format on paper is one thing, but racing it revealed the true effect it has on how the racing unfolds and how the riders react to the new order of events. As soon as day 1 started I could tell that the change had brought about a lot of positives. The main difference I found was that it forced riders to treat each race as a separate event, as the nature of the event order meant that marking specific opponents was either impossible or useless until the points race. The UCI undoubtedly had the crowd in mind while deciding this as it creates aggressive, positive racing that cycling fans adore. Coupled with the dramatic finale of the points race, I feel that this style of racing throughout the omnium can only enhance track cyclings popularity.
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