Medal-winning San Diego cyclist to race for final time at Tokyo Olympics

Jennifer Valente
Jennifer Valente
Posted at 5:01 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 20:01:17-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego cyclist Jennifer Valente will race for the third and final time in the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday night, California time, competing in the four-event omnium.

Valente was ranked first in the omnium on the UCI World Cup circuit in the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons, and won the event at the Pan American Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and the 2019 Pan American Games.

The omnium will be streamed live at 6 p.m. It will also be part of CNBC's Olympics coverage which begins at 9:30 p.m.

In an omnium, riders receive points based on their finishes. It begins with a scratch race where all the riders start together and race to be the first over the finish line.

The second event is a tempo race, which is part of a women's Olympic omnium for the first time as part of changes made in 2016 to the event, where the leading rider is awarded points for winning a lap.

The next event is an elimination race, where the last rider is eliminated after every second lap. The final event is a points race, where riders race for 20 kilometers and are awarded points along the way.

Valente will be racing against many of the same cyclists she competed against in the madison on Friday, where she and partner Megan Jastrab finished ninth.

"The race was very quick from the gun, as we expected," Valente said. "It stayed aggressive throughout the 120 laps. Megan and I fought hard but didn't quite have it today to be contenders."

In the madison, teams of two riders take turns to race in a 30- kilometer endurance relay. The resting rider has to touch the racing rider when changing over. It was the first time women competed in the event in the Olympics.

The race is named after the first Madison Square Garden where it was first held in the late 19th century as a way of circumventing laws passed in New York intended to protect cyclists in six-day races from exhaustion.

Valente won a bronze medal in team pursuit Tuesday. She was part of the U.S. team that won a silver medal in the event at the 2016 Rio Games.

The 26-year-old athlete grew up in San Diego riding mountain and BMX bicycles around her neighborhood with her brothers. Valente's father Thomas raced bikes in the 1980s, and she grew up listening to race stories. She participated in many sports as a youth, including soccer, baseball and swimming.

Encouraged by her father's love of riding bicycles, when she was 14 she attended youth classes at the San Diego Velodrome and was drawn in by the uniquely contained environment in which she could push herself.