Last Updated: 22/07/11 10:10am
There will be four different categories of cycling at the Olympic Games.
The road race and individual time trial events take place on public roads in and around London, with the track and BMX contests being held in the newly-built VeloPark. Mountain Biking meanwhile, is situated at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.
In just the second ever Olympic running of the BMX competition, riders will race on a specially-designed 300-400m track which features a variety of extreme jumps, banked corners and obstacles.
Both the men's and women's events will begin with a seeding stage, where each individual runs the track twice with their fastest time determining their starting rank.
The 32 men will then compete in four quarter-finals, which consist of three separate runs with points allocated after each one in relation to the riders' finishing positions. The final, however, is just over one run and that's when the medals will be decided.
Sixteen riders will start the women's event so they will advance directly from the seeding run to the three semi-finals.
The action will be centred around Essex for the mountain bike fraternity. Hadleigh Farm will play host to the temporary course and it was picked for its variety of terrain, gradient and backdrop.
The route promises to be a technical test of ability for the world's best riders, set against the 700-year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle.
Riders will have to negotiate steep drop-offs, bridges, jumps, berms, fast downhill sections and leg-burning climbs over a set number of laps.
Up to 20,000 fans will be able to watch events unfold on the Salvation Army-owned estate.
There are two sub-disciplines in the road cycling category - the classic road race and the individual time trial.
The road course for both the men's and women's race will finish in spectacular style with what is expected to be a bunch sprint down The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
The 250km course (140km for women) will also start along The Mall, with the riders rolling out on a route that takes them further into Westminster before crossing the Thames and heading out into the Surrey countryside.
The focal point of the race will be a figure-of-eight circuit around the notorious Box Hill, with riders making multiple passes over this steep supporter-lined ascent before returning to central London for the finish.
The road races take place on Saturday 28 July (men) and Sunday 29 July (women) respectively, meaning they are amongst the first chances to claim a gold medal at the Games.
This battle is fought out against the clock with riders setting off at 90-second intervals with the sole aim of covering the distance in the quickest possible time.
The decision to remove the 4km individual pursuit event from the Olympic track programme has meant that many of the world's top time triallers will be looking to the road in a bid to grab individual honours.
The London course will be situated on the roads surrounding the picturesque Hampton Court Palace and pass through similar boroughs to the road race. A city centre setting should throw up its own unique set of characteristics, with riders having to negotiate 'road furniture' pitfalls such as manhole covers, curbing and painted lines that could prove treacherous in the wet. The course measures 44km for the men and 29km for the women, and will be another chance for huge crowds to watch the world's elite.
The track cycling takes place at the London Velodrome with five different events on show - the sprint, team pursuit, keirin, team sprint, and omnium. For 2012, both men and women will compete in all five disciplines.
The Individual sprint, which sees two riders pitting their wits against each other over a distance of one kilometre. Although to a novice this could seem like a relatively straightforward event, it is in fact a highly tactical form of racing that sees much of the action play out before the final sprint kicks in.
The Keirin is one of the best track spectacles, the keirin is a battle between six to nine riders which culminates in an all-out burst of pace over the final two laps. In one of the more unusual sights at the velodrome, riders are initially motor-paced by a derny bike which slowly ramps up to full race speed.
Put simply, the team sprint is a drag race from the gun, forgoing tactics in favour of out-and-out speed.
Among the most prestigious events on the track, the team pursuit is a nail-bitingly tense affair, with two teams pitting themselves against the clock, and each other.Making its Olympic debut in London is the omnium event, a points competition featuring six rounds to test each rider to their limit. The winner in each event is awarded a single point, with the runner-up awarded two and so on. The rider with the least points at the end of six events will see the gold medal placed around their neck.
Road race cycling made its Olympic debut at the first modern summer Games in Athens in 1896, and although it was absent for the next three, the event has been part of the schedule ever since.
A team road race was introduced in 1912 but was replaced by a 100km team time trial, although this too came to an end in 1992 when the individual time trial was added to the programme instead. Women made their road race bow in 1984 and were handed an individual time trial at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Track racing has been included in every Olympics, apart from Stockholm in 1912, although there have been plenty of changes in length, format and bike design over the years. 2012 saw yet another shake-up of the events to streamline men and women's racing.
Mountain Bike racing is still regarded as a new cycling discipline as far as the Olympics are concerned, having been first introduced in Atlanta in 1996.
BMX will look to further establish itself as an Olympic sport after a strong debut in Beijing.
Chris Boardman powers to gold in Barcelona
Britain's Chris Boardman virtually revolutionised track racing in 1992 when the introduction of his ultra-lightweight full carbon-fibre bike saw him smash world records and lap the world champion Jens Lehmann in the final of the individual pursuit. He famously adopted the "Superman" position and became Britain's first Olympic cycling gold medallist for 72 years and more importantly sparked a surge of long-term interest and success in the sport in his country.
Jan Ullrich, regarded as one of the most talented cyclists of his generation, was agonisingly close to a double gold in Sydney but nevertheless will be remembered for his outstanding performance in the road race which saw him lead his Telekom teammates Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden to a 1-2-3. In the time-trial event he just missed out in a frantic sprint finish to Viatcheslav Ekimov by just 0.08 seconds although he did manage to beat his arch-rival Lance Armstrong into third place.
Five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain wrote his name into Olympic folklore when racing away to time-trial gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games, where professional cyclists were allowed to compete for the first time. Fellow Spaniard Abraham Olano took the silver while Boardman added another medal to his collection with the bronze.
Female riders have also had their fair share of Olympic glory, despite having to wait until 1984 for their first opportunity.
Perhaps the most famous is Holland's Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who collected four golds, a silver and a bronze from the Sydney and Athens Games but it's her story leading up to 2000 which makes her achievements unforgettable.
Having worked her way up to the top by becoming the world road race champion for the second time in 1993, she then dropped out of the sport the following year to battle against depression, anorexia and bulimia. But her return was explosive and at the age of 30 in Sydney she stormed to victory in the individual pursuit inside the velodrome before taking silver in the points race. Then Zijlaard-van Moorsel showcased her world-class versatility by claiming the road race gold, and four days later stormed to a quite incredible triumph in the time trial by 37 seconds. If that wasn't enough she went on to etch her name into Dutch sporting immortality four years later in Athens by recovering from a bad fall in the road race to defend her time-trial title by a comfortable margin of 24.09sec. There was no doubt she retired on a high note, but not before adding a bronze in the pursuit.
Another female cycling great is Jeannie Longo, who initially appeared cursed at the Olympics despite winning almost everywhere else throughout her illustrious career.
At the age of 37 in Atlanta, the French heroine had already ten world crowns to her name - both on the road and on the track - but none on the greatest stage of all. In 1984 a late collision knocked her out of contention, a broken hip wrecked her chances four years later, and in Barcelona she was pipped by Kathy Watt in the road race. But her fortune changed in 1996 when her hard work and perseverance saw her race away from Imelda Chiappa and Clara Hughes to win road race gold before taking silver in the time trial.
Longo returned to the Olympics in 2000, aged 41, and won bronze in the time trial, although her age finally caught up with her in Athens where she missed out on the medals.
Most people think of Chris Boardman when asked to name successful British cyclists for the reasons mentioned earlier, but he's not the only one to enjoy the national spotlight.
Bradley Wiggins shot to stardom thanks to his exploits in Athens and Beijing. In Greece he became the first British athlete since Mary Rand in 1964 to win three medals in one Olympics. He followed this up four years later with golds in the individual and team pursuit.
Sir Chris Hoy will hope for a swansong in London
Scottish track hero Chris Hoy earned himself a knighthood after a stunning 2008 Olympic Games, taking three gold medals in the sprint, team sprint and keirin.
Hoy also took home gold four years earlier in Athens, winning the now removed 1km time trial event.
Among the British gold medal winners last time out in Beijing were Victoria Pendleton, who took a spectacular victory in the sprint, while Nicole Cooke claimed an impressive triumph in the pouring rain in the women's road race.
French powerhouse Kevin Sireau has taken the fight to the British men over the past few seasons and will enter London as a resounding favourite for gold in the track.
A relative youngster, Sireau has wasted no time in taking the scalps of the top British sprinters, beating both Hoy and Kenny in front of a partisan crowd in Manchester in February 2011. Sireau will be a favourite for gold in both the keirin and sprint events.
In the men's keirin, also look out for Azizulhasni Awang, the Malaysian sprinter who garnered mainstream attention in the 2011 Manchester World Cup event after a splinter punctured his calf after a crash in the final.
Australia have the fire power to take wins in any track discipline, but can make a special claim to women's team sprint success after smashing the world record in 2010.
Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares set the bar high at the 2010 World Championships in Copenhagen with a stunning sub-33-second time.
The biggest test to the British men looks set to be the French team sprint squad, blending youth and experience with Sireau and Gregory Bauge respectively.
2012 will see Britain's team pursuit domination come under heavy threat from a number of powerful nations. Australia have been slowly gathering momentum since a disappointing performance in Beijing, and with the individual pursuit event scrapped, the likes of Cameron Meyer, Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis will all be gunning for gold.
One unmistakable contender in the omnium will be New Zealander Shane Archibold. The young Kiwi burst on to the scene with a blend of pace, consistency and a wild haircut. Archibold heads a youthful generation who have clearly targeted this newest of events.
Italian road sensation Elia Viviani could be another man to challenge for top honours, using a powerful turn of speed that has seen him turning heads in road circles since turning pro in 2010.
Other riders to watch are 2011 World Cup champion Tara Whitten (Canada), Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) and Leire Olaberria (Spain).
DOB: 17/5/1956 Event: Boxing Medals: 1 gold Flag: USA
A week into the Games of the XXX Olympiad, Richard Moore brings us his half-way highs and lows
Linford Christie sprinted to 100m gold for Britain at an Olympic Games best remembered for America's basketball dream team.