Cycling Road at the 1912 Summer Olympics

Only one cycling race was held at the 1912 Olympics. The Swedish Olympic Committee actually attempted to eliminate cycling altogether. No track races were planned, although at the 11th IOC Session in Luxembourg (11-13 June 1910), the British protested this decision but no change was made. The track races were eliminated because the only velodrome in Stockholm was being destroyed to make room for the new Olympic Stadium, and there were no plans to build a new one, even with the advent of the Olympic Games.

At the 12th Session (Budapest, 23-27 May 1911), the Swedes noted that they wanted to eliminate the road race as well. Britain’s Robert de Courcy Laffan insisted that a competition of at least 100 km. should be held. Sweden’s Viktor Gustaf Balck noted that, “our roads are so bad that it is impossible to organise such a race.” But eventually the Swedish Olympic Committee capitulated, and elected to hold it on the course for the Mälaren Rundt (Tour of Lake Mälaren), the most popular road race in Sweden. The Mälaren Rundt was first held in 1892 and 1893, and then again yearly after 1901.

The race was a very long (315.385 km. [196.0 miles]) time trial on the roads around Lake Mälaren. Lake Mälaren is a huge lake formed by a former inlet of the Baltic Sea. Stockholm was originally built on several islands in the outlet of Lake Mälaren into the Baltic Sea, in order to guard the Lake from foreign naval invasion. An individual and team competition was decided based on this single race. The event also holds the distinction of starting at the earliest time of any Olympic event ever - 2 AM (0200).

The cycling road race was noteworthy because England, Scotland, and Ireland were allowed to enter teams of riders as individual nations, rather than as one combined team representing Great Britain. It is uncertain why this decision was made. However, on the day before the event, 6 July, France protested this ruling. The ruling was discussed all day, and that evening, the Committee for Cycling announced that the three nations would be allowed to compete separately. The Cycling Committee noted that they “… regretted that this concession had been made, but declared at the same time that, as the teams from the countries in question had come to Sweden to take part in the event, the Swedish Cycling Committee did not wish to prevent them from doing so, and that the Swedish Cycling Association intended to take the responsibility for their so doing on its own shoulders, should any steps be taken in the matter by the Union Cycliste Internationale.”

In addition to the Olympic medals, several cities along the route of the road course donated special prizes. The cycling awards ceremony was separate from the events in the stadium and took place on Monday, 9 July, at Restaurant Hasslebacken, where the awards were distributed by the President of the Cycling Committee, Gösta Drake af Hagelsrum. The special awards given were as follows: Memorial Cup of Eskilstuna - winner of the race - Rudolph Lewis (RSA); Memorial Cup of Västerås - top Swedish cyclist - Erik Friborg; Memorial Cup of Enköping - best rider between Enköping and the Olympic Stadium - Leon Meredith (GBR); Memorial Cup of Mariefred - given to cyclist who ride well but did not win a medal - Frank Brown (CAN); Silver Cup of Sundsvalls Velocipedklubb - winner of the team race - Sweden; and Memorial Cup of Köping - team with most participants finishing - Germany.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Road Race, Individual, Men Olympic 7 July 1912 123 16
Road Race, Team, Men Olympic 7 July 1912 119 13
123 (123/0) 16 (16/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Road Race, Individual, Men Rudolph LewisRSA Freddie GrubbGBR Carl SchutteUSA
Road Race, Team, Men SwedenSWE EnglandGBR United StatesUSA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
South Africa RSA 1 0 0 1
Sweden SWE 1 0 0 1
Great Britain GBR 0 2 0 2
United States USA 0 0 2 2