The women’s Madison will be contested as part of the track cycling program at the Olympic Games for the first time next year, and on Saturday a pair of Americans showed their prowess with a podium finish at the world cup event in Brisbane, Australia.
Kendall Ryan and Christina Birch took bronze in the race, which features teams of two riders competing by alternating laps. Both circle the track, but only one is actually racing at any time. In order to sub out, a cyclist has to touch his or her replacement, which often means a slingshot entry. Teams earn points both by gaining a lap on the field and through intermediate sprints, held every 10 laps. Men race 200 laps and women 120, and the team with the most points wins.
The Madison was on the men’s Olympic schedule from 2000 through 2008 but was dropped in part because there was no corresponding event for women. It was voted back in for both genders for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2017.
Ryan, who’s used to focus primarily on road cycling, began shifting between both disciplines last year in order to make the Olympic team one way or another. Birch is also hoping to make her Olympic debut in 2020, and started off this track season winning a gold medal in team pursuit in Minsk, Belarus.
Home team Australia won Saturday’s race with a total of 56 points. France claimed silver with 51 points and the U.S. bronze with 32.