Athens, 2004: One month after a back injury forced him out of the Tour de France, American Tyler Hamilton climbed from third place at the halfway mark to overtake Sydney gold-medallist Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia and win the Olympic men's road time trial. "This is fantastic," Hamilton said. "I've dreamt about a gold medal ever since I was a kid. I'm really proud to represent my country. This the greatest moment of my career." Fellow American Bobby Julich overcame a broken right wrist suffered in the Tour de France to take the bronze.
Athens, 2004: Australia dominated the cycling competition, picking up 10 medals, including five gold, in the 12 events contested. Among the highlights were Anna Mears setting a world record of 33.952 seconds en route to a gold medal in the women's time trial; Ryan Bailey winning gold in the men's sprint and Keirin events; the Aussie men's pursuit team setting a world record in the first round before winning gold; and Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady winning Madison gold.
Athens, 2004: In 2000, Australian Katie Mactier gave up her career at a large Melbourne advertising agency to devote herself fulltime to cycling. Four years later, she earned her first Olympic medal, silver in the women's individual pursuit. Originally a road competitor, Mactier only added track cycling to her repertoire in 2003, when she nearly beat Dutch Olympic champion Leontien van Moorsel in the individual pursuit at the World Championships that year. Sarah Ulmer of New Zealand set a world record in winning gold while Van Moorsel took bronze in her Olympic farewell.
Sydney, 2000: Thirty-year-old cyclist Leontien Zijlaard, her career once jeopardized by an eating disorder, was the star of Sydney's cycling competition. The Dutchwoman's stunning dominance began on the track with victory in the individual pursuit, followed by silver in the points race. With a sweep of the road race and time trial, Zijlaard was one of six athletes to win three gold medals at the Sydney Games.
Sydney, 2000: Germany's Jens Fiedler, chasing his third consecutive Olympic title in the men's sprint, lost, 2-0, in the Sydney semifinals to American Marty Nothstein. Four years earlier, in the Atlanta final, Nothstein had lost two close races to Fiedler. This time, the Pennsylvania native seized his golden moment, defeating Florian Rousseau of France, 2-0, to give the U.S. its first sprint gold since the boycotted Games of the 1984 (Mark Gorski).
Sydney, 2000: She said before the race she'd be happy to just win bronze, and her pink bike didn't exactly convey toughness. But in the 2000 Olympic women's mountain bike event, Italy's Paolo Pezzo was as determined and tenacious as ever. After making "several errors" early, Pezzo fought for the lead on the fourth of five laps when she got entangled with Spain's two-time world champion, Margarita Fullana. Pezzo emerged from the tie-up, but Fullana falls, allowing the Italian to pull away and cruise to successful defense of her Olympic title.
Sydney, 2000: Best capitalizing on an expanded cycling program for Sydney, France won three of the four new track events: the Olympic sprint (a team competition), the Keirin (Florian Rousseau) and the women's 500m time trial (Felicia Ballanger, who also defended her sprint title). The only new event not won by the French was the Madison, which went to a team from Australia.
Atlanta, 1996: Two decades after emerging on cycling's horizon, mountain biking made its Olympic debut in Atlanta with cross-country events. Dutch world champion Bart Jan Brentjens, who prepared for the sweltering Atlanta conditions by riding a stationary bike in a hot and steamy room, comfortably won the men's race. Paola Pezzo, cycling's poster girl, took gold in the women's event ahead of favored Canadian Alison Sydor. American Susan DeMattei, a registered nurse, finished third.
Atlanta, 1996: With the ban on professional cyclists competing in the Olympics lifted, Spain's Miguel Indurain won gold in the time trial (road), less than two weeks after his streak of five consecutive Tour de France came to an end. Finishing sixth was American Lance Armstrong, who later became the second person to win five straight Tours.
Barcelona, 1992: Riding a new, high-tech bicycle that weighed less than 20 pounds, Britain's Chris Boardman dominated track cycling's individual pursuit competition. In the preliminary rounds, Boardman lowered the world record by nearly seven seconds. Then, in the race for gold, he overtook Germany's Jens Lehmann -- a feat never before achieved in an Olympic pursuit final -- to become Britain's first Olympic cycling champion since 1920.
Barcelona, 1992: The addition of the women's individual pursuit to the 1992 program helped lure American Rebecca Twigg and France's Jeannie Longo out of their retirement. Combined, they won seven world titles in the event in the 1980s. In a quarterfinal duel, Twigg (age 29) edged Longo (33) by two inches. Twigg then lost in the semifinals to relative unknown Kathy Watt of Australia, but did earn an Olympic bronze medal to go along with her 1984 road race silver. Longo, who finished second to the 5-foot-1 Watt in the Barcelona road race, competed at two more Olympics before retiring with four career medals.
Barcelona, 1992: Four years after winning the inaugural women's sprint event -- representing the Soviet Union -- Erika Salumae took gold again in Barcelona. But this time, Salumae pedaled for her native Estonia, which had last competed independently at the 1936 Berlin Games. After becoming Estonia's first female Olympic champion, Salumae watched as the Estonian flag was raised upside down at the medal ceremony.
Seoul, 1988: As the USSR's Aleksandr Kirichenko entered the final lap of the men's kilometer time trial (track), his rear tire began to deflate. By the time he reached the finish line, the tire lost half of its air. Though permitted to re-run the race, Kirichenko and his coach decided against it, figuring he would be too exhausted to post a faster time. When pre-race favorite Martin Vinnicombe of Australia, the final competitor, finished .285 behind Kirichenko, the Soviet had Olympic gold to go with his flat tire.
Seoul, 1988: Just seven months before competing in the first Olympic women's sprint event, track cyclist Christa Rothenburger of East Germany won silver and gold in speed skating at the Calgary Games. In Seoul, participating in the sport she took up as a form of off-season training, Rothenburger finished runner-up to Soviet Erika Salumae to take silver in the sprint and become the only athlete with Olympic medals from both the summer and winter Games in the same year.
Los Angeles, 1984: Women contested an Olympic road race for the first. Near the end of the 49-mile race, five cyclists made up the lead pack, including Americans Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Rebecca Twigg. With 200 meters to go, Twigg broke away, followed by Carpenter-Phinney, who catches her teammate just before the finish line. Carpenter-Phinney then "threw" her bike forward and won the gold medal by less than half a wheel.
Los Angeles, 1984: With several top cyclists absent because of the Soviet-led boycott, the final of the men's sprint in 1984 saw American Mark Gorski defeat compatriot Nelson Vails. The last time a U.S. cyclist earned a medal in the track event was 1900 (John Henry Lake, bronze). Three years prior to the Los Angeles Games, Vails worked as a bike messenger in New York City. Gorski, a 1980 Olympian who didn't compete in Moscow because of the U.S. boycott, had retired following a crash that left him with a broken collarbone and concussion.
Montreal, 1976: For the first time in Olympic history, track cycling events were held indoors, and the change produced some bizarre developments. Disaster struck the Czechs when their wheels and spare tires are inadvertently fed into a trash compacter. In the team pursuit, world champion West Germany rode to victory on tires filled with helium. The West Germans were not allowed to use their one-piece silk racing suits because they were deemed to provide an unfair aerodynamic advantage.
Mexico City, 1968: The Swedish all-brother quartet of Gosta, Sture, Erik and Tomas Pettersson took silver in the no-longer contested team time trial event. Four years earlier in Tokyo, the brothers, minus Tomas, claimed bronze in the same event.
Tokyo, 1964: The Tokyo cycling competition was marked by two extraordinary competitions. In the 121-mile road race, Italy's Mario Zanin, a mechanic from Treviso, broke away from the pack 20 meters from the finish line to win the gold medal. In an amazingly close finish, only .16 of a second separated the top 51 finishers. In the match sprint, where competitors often slow to a halt for positioning, Italy's Giovanni Pettenella and Pierre Trentin of France set an Olympic record by standing still for 21 minutes, 57 seconds. Today, competitors cannot remain stationary for more than 30 seconds.
Rome, 1960: For the 100km team time trial event, the temperature in Rome reached 93 degrees. Danish cyclist Knut Jensen collapsed during the race, suffering a fractured skull. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died. Jensen's death was initially attributed to sunstroke, but later it was revealed that the cyclist took a blood circulation stimulant called Ronicol prior to the race, which caused his collapse. Jensen and Portuguese marathoner Francisco Lazaro (1912) are the only two athletes ever to die in Olympic competition.
Rome, 1960: Italian track cyclist Sante Gaiardoni claimed victory in both the sprint and the kilometer time trial in Rome, becoming the only person to win both events. The reigning sprint world champion, Gaiardoni breezed through the competition three days after setting a world record in winning the time trial.
Melbourne, 1956: Ercole Baldini of Italy, already with a world title in the individual pursuit and a world record in the one-hour time trial in 1956, capped his superb season with gold in the Melbourne road race. France and Great Britain, who claimed that Baldini was shaded from the hot Australian sun by an Olympic film crew riding alongside him, challenged the Italian's Olympic victory, but it stood.
Helsinki, 1952: A sometimes-indifferent cyclist who once said, "I feel there is a lot more to this life than riding a bicycle," Russell Mockridge showed up in Helsinki five days into the 1952 Games because of an eligibility dispute. But the scramble had no adverse effect on the Australian, who raced to a pair of gold medals on the track (time trial, tandem event). Six years later, Mockridge was killed when struck by a bus while competing in a race in Melbourne.
Berlin, 1936: The Berlin Olympic road race featured a mass start and narrow streets that created dangerous conditions. Several racers crashed in the late stages, but Robert Charpentier of France made it through to win the gold medal in 2 hours, 33 minutes, 5.0 seconds -- just .2 of a second ahead of compatriot Guy Lapebie. Two days earlier, Charpentier was a member of France's victorious pursuit team on the track.
Amsterdam, 1928: Denmark's Villy Falck Hansen won track cycling's inaugural Olympic kilometer time trial event. Australia's Edgar "Dunc" Gray, who never contested a time trial before arriving in Amsterdam, earned bronze in the race. Four years later in Los Angeles, he won gold in Olympic-record time to give Australia its first Olympic cycling champion. In 2000, Sydney organizers honored Gray by naming the Olympic velodrome after him.
Antwerp, 1920: With a narrow victory in the sprint, 38-year-old Mouritius "Maurice" Peeters of the Netherlands became the oldest cyclist to win Olympic gold. Four years later, he won the bronze medal in the tandem event. Peeters held the distinction of being cycling's oldest Olympic medalist of any color until Etieene de Wilde (also 42, but older by 97 days) won silver in 2000.
Stockholm, 1912: Beginning at 2 a.m. on July 7, the 123 participants in cycling's inaugural Olympic time trial were sent out at two-minute intervals to cover the 199-mile course around Stockholm's Lake Malar. South Africa's Rudolph "Okey" Lewis, starting at 2:02 a.m., charged out fast and held on for gold; his winning time was 10 hours, 42 minutes, 39 seconds. Following the Games, Lewis was caught up in World War I while racing in Germany. He eventually returned to South Africa after enduring multiple war wounds and detention in several prison camps.
London, 1908: Although cycling's 1000m match sprint was contested at the London Games, no medals were awarded following a bizarre turn of events. Four cyclists started the final, but over the course of the race, two were sidelined with punctured tires. In the end, Maurice Schilles of France beat Great Britain's Benjamin Jones by inches. But the race exceeded the 1 minute, 45 second time limit and was thus declared void.
St. Louis, 1904: Marcus Hurley of the U.S. won four of the seven cycling events at the 1904 Games (and placed third in another), where only track races are held and none are certified as official Olympic competitions. All seven cycling events contested in St. Louis never returned to the Olympic program.
Paris, 1900: The men's points race, an event in which points were awarded to riders during sprints that took place every 10 laps, made its Olympic debut in Paris. Italy's Ernesto Mario Brusoni became the first Olympic points race champion, outscoring the runner-up from Germany, 21-9. Brusoni remained the event's only gold medalist until it returned to the Olympic program for the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Athens, 1896: Cycling was among the nine sports contested at the first modern Olympics, and host Greece claimed a hard-earned gold in the 54-mile road race from Athens to Marathon and back. Despite several spills along the way, one of which required switching to a friend's bike, Aristidis Konstantinidis crossed the finish line triumphant, though "covered with dust, begrimed and dirty, his whole appearance showing traces of his various accidents," as described in the official report of the 1896 Games.
Athens, 1896: The cycling competition in Athens was marked by an act of sportsmanship from Frenchman Leon Flameng. At one point during the 62-mile track race (which required 300 laps and was attended by King George I), Flameng dismounted his bike and waited while a Greek competitor dealt with mechanical problems. Despite a late fall, Flameng -- with a French flag tied to his leg -- pedaled to an easy gold medal.