Cycling Track at the 1904 Summer Olympics

Dates 2 – 5 August 1904
Medal Events 7
Non-medal Events 18

The cycling events of the 1904 Olympic Games were contested from 2-5 August on the Olympic stadium track at Francis Field. It was described as “a track of cinders, flat as a billiard table, very dry and dusty.” The cycling events were very poorly attended. The Bicycling World listed the crowd as 125 people on 2 August and noted that there were only “a few spectators” on 3-5 August.

Multiple events were contested at the 1904 Olympic Games. This included both handicap events as well as events for professionals. In the past the cycling events of the 1904 Olympics have not always been included in the Olympic sports because of some suspicion that the amateurs and professionals competed together. That is not correct. They did not compete together in any event although professional and amateur events were held on the same days on the same track. Certainly only the amateur events that were not handicap events should be considered as Olympic sports. Of note, America’s greatest ever track cyclist, Frank Kramer, competed in the 1904 professional events and won several of them.

Among the amateur cyclists, the events were dominated by Marcus Hurley who won four gold medals and six medals in all, from among the seven events contested. He was pressed by Burton Downing of San Jose, California, who won two events, and Teddy Billington of Vailsburg, New Jersey. Hurley would win the world amateur sprint championship later that year but never competed much in cycling after 1904. He entered Columbia University where he became an All-American basketball player, considered one of the greatest players of that era. Downing retired from cycling after the 1904 Olympics and eventually became a renowned architect. Almost nothing is known about Billington’s life, but it is known that his bicycle did not arrive in St. Louis on the train which brought him, and he competed at the St. Louis cycling competitions on a borrowed bike.

No foreign cyclists competed at the 1904 cycling events. There were foreign entrants, however, specifically those from the Radfahrerbund from Berlin, Germany. Given that professionals and amateurs did not compete against each other, given that the competitions were open to all competitors, and since there were foreign entrants, there is every justification to call the cycling events of the 1904 Olympics as Olympic events.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
¼ mile, Men Olympic 3 August 1904 11 2
⅓ mile, Men Olympic 4 – 5 August 1904 6 1
½ mile, Men Olympic 2 August 1904 12 1
1 mile, Men Olympic 5 August 1904 8 1
2 miles, Men Olympic 3 August 1904 5 1
5 miles, Men Olympic 5 August 1904 9 1
25 miles, Men Olympic 5 August 1904 10 1
18 (18/0) 2 (2/0)

Non-medal events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
1 mile, Motorcycle - Exhibition #1, Men Olympic (non-medal) 1 1
1 mile, Motorcycle - Exhibition #2, Men Olympic (non-medal) 1 1
1 mile, Novice, Men Olympic (non-medal) 2 August 1904 3 2
1/2 mile, Handicap, Men Olympic (non-medal) 2 August 1904 6 1
1 mile, Handicap, Men Olympic (non-medal) 3 August 1904 4 1
5 miles, Handicap, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 4 1
1/3 mile, Professionals - Grand Circuit Championship, Men Olympic (non-medal) 2 August 1904 15 2
1/3 mile, Professionals - Consolation, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 8 2
1/2 mile, Professionals - Grand Circuit Championship, Men Olympic (non-medal) 4 – 5 August 1904 9 1
2/3 mile, Professionals - Grand Circuit Championship, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 8 1
1 mile, Professionals - Grand Circuit Championship, Men Olympic (non-medal) 3 August 1904 4 1
1 mile, Professionals - Consolation #1, Men Olympic (non-medal) 2 August 1904 5 2
1 mile, Professionals - Consolation #2, Men Olympic (non-medal) 3 August 1904 5 1
Australian Team Pursuit, Professionals, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 8 2
1/2 mile, Handicap, Professionals, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 6 1
1 mile, Handicap, Professionals, Men Olympic (non-medal) 2 August 1904 5 1
1 mile, Handicap, Professionals, Men Olympic (non-medal) 3 August 1904 8 2
2 miles, Handicap, Professionals, Men Olympic (non-medal) 5 August 1904 12 2
18 (18/0) 2 (2/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
¼ mile, Men Marcus HurleyUSA Burton DowningUSA Teddy BillingtonUSA
⅓ mile, Men Marcus HurleyUSA Burton DowningUSA Teddy BillingtonUSA
½ mile, Men Marcus HurleyUSA Teddy BillingtonUSA Burton DowningUSA
1 mile, Men Marcus HurleyUSA Burton DowningUSA Teddy BillingtonUSA
2 miles, Men Burton DowningUSA Oscar GoerkeUSA Marcus HurleyUSA
5 miles, Men Charles SchleeUSA George WileyUSA Arthur AndrewsUSA
25 miles, Men Burton DowningUSA Arthur AndrewsUSA George WileyUSA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 7 7 7 21