The team pursuit is a track cycling event similar to the individual pursuit, except that two teams, each of up to four riders, compete, start on opposite sides of the velodrome.
The men's event is competed over a distance of 16 laps, 4km, by a team of 4 riders. The new women's event is competed over a distance of 12 laps, 3km, by a team of three riders.
As with the Individual pursuit the objective is to cover the distance in the fastest time or to catch and overtake the other team in a final. Riders in a team follow each other closely in line to minimise total drag, and periodically the lead rider (who works the hardest) peels off the front, swings up the track banking and rejoins the team at the rear. Since the winning team is decided by the third rider, it is common for one rider to take a "death pull," where they ride so hard that they cannot maintain the group-pace afterwards. This allows their team-mates to briefly recover behind him before they make a final three-man acceleration towards the finish line.
The first round of the competition at major events is the qualifying round. This still involves two teams on the track at the same time but they are not directly competing against each other but attempting to set the fastest time to progress in the competition. In the Olympic Games the top teams progress into knock out rounds, with the top two surviving into the Gold and Silver medal race and next two into the Bronze Medal race. In the World Championships or World Cup Classic events the top two teams from the qualifying round progress directly to the Gold and Silver medal race while the third and forth qualifers fight it out for Bronze.
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