Hepburn remains critical of Olympic track program reshuffle

Australian calls for individual pursuit to be returned to 'holy grail' status at Games

Michael Hepburn (GreenEdge) says that he was bemused by the decision after the 2008 Beijing Games to remove his pet event, the Individual Pursuit from the Olympic program, and hopes that the IOC and UCI will reinstate the discipline for the next edition of the Games in Rio in 2016.

"The reasons have never been super clear, and I think it’s upset a lot of people," said Hepburn to ABC Radio. "It’s a hard blow to take - especially in a country that has such a rich history of producing pursuit riders."

"There’s some talk of bringing some events back for Rio, and I hope that the Individual Pursuit is among them."

The schedule was changed in 2009 ‘officially’ to cater for additional sprint events. Along with the Individual Pursuit, the Points and Scratch races were also dropped with the omnium event coming in as a replacement.

Endurance athletes have been particularly disgruntled by the changes, which for many leaves only one realistic option for Olympic medals in the Team Pursuit.

"The silver lining I guess is that [the change] has added extra value to the team pursuit," added Hepburn, who then conceded that it also meant that it heightened the competition for spots.

The Queenslander will hope to solidify his own Olympic chances when he lines-up with Luke Durbridge, Rohan Dennis and Jack Bobridge at next week’s UCI Track World Cup in London before shifting his focus to the World championships in April.

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