The omnium has always been a controversial event since it took previously individual events and grouped them into one displeasing some track cyclists. After being the current format of races was introduced in 2010 the omnium has now had its first big shake up ahead of the 2014/15 track cycling season in a move that should please spectators both at the track and crucially at home on TV.
The UCI has reversed the points system so no longer will riders be given a point for every place they finish in an event. (First place 1 point, second place 2 points and so on with the rider with the fewest points taking the win). Now riders will be given 40 points for a win, 38 for a second place and down the order. This is not the significant change though that will affect those watching. Those points will be added to the final event, which will now be the points race (instead of the Kilo or 500m TT). This means that winner of the points will be winner of the omnium.
It is an idea based on, of all things, Nordic Combined. Here the scores from the Ski Jumping give you a lead in the cross-country skiing so the highest score sets of first and the rest are handicap but the winner is still the first over the line. Like that event in the omnium riders will know how many points they need and who they need to defend against. It should make for an exciting race with attacks and counters happening from the start and from riders who in the past may have been able to sit in the peloton.
Improving the racing itself is one thing. Whilst this will be exciting for the fans watching it is only part of the improvement. With the winner of the points race winning the event you can expect a better atmosphere around the climax as the public at the velodrome and at home can see who is winning instantly. This will be especially true at World Cups, World Championships and the Olympics were patriotic fans rally behind their track favourites.
Cycling has after a slow start come to the realisation that it does need to make its events a bit more of a spectacle and after that is what the change to the omnium was about. It was tried the old way and these changes will enhance the fans experience. There is though a slight thought that the other events almost become a qualifier for the points race. However we all like a close finish and these changes will do that.