The on-line petition to request the UCI to reconsider its decision to drop the kilometre and 500m time trials from the Olympic Games has almost reached ten thousand signatures. Commentator Paul Sherwen added his name to the list earlier today and over the weekend British former pro Tony Hoar signed. Hoar was one of the first British riders to finish the Tour de France, taking home the lanterne rouge for last rider on the general classification in the 1955 Tour.
The petition closes at midnight today, and organizer Carlton Reid of bikebiz.co.uk hopes to reach ten thousand names before then. "I reckon 10k will be a tough number for the UCI to argue with," says Reid. "It's confirming to national cycle federations that there's opposition out there and they should lodge their own, official complaints."
Reid has also recently spoken to top British track rider Jamie Staff, the 2004 world keirin champion, and like reigning Olympic kilo champion Chris Hoy a rider who came to track racing from BMX.
"The UCI's decision knocked me for six," said Staff. "At least Chris [Hoy] will be the last kilo champion, but I feel for those riders who specialise in the kilo and won't now be able to get an Olympic title.
"The kilo is a unique discipline, with a long history," added Staff. "I don't know why the UCI came to that decision. I was shocked. Still am. Take a road discipline out. Lots of those guys don't even bother turning up [at the Olympics]. It's not the pinnacle of their career like it is for the track riders."
While amazed at the decision to drop the kilo, Staff defended the inclusion of BMX in the Games. "Most people don't realise how popular BMX racing is," he said. "There are just a few thousand track riders in the world but in the US alone there are 100,000 kids who race BMX."
Staff pointed out that BMX has produced many top track riders and that BMX riders had often surprised coaches and officials. He described British Cycling as having been "blown away" when his own power output was measured.
"You've got to realise that BMX racers are athletes," said Staff. "They train five to six times a week, many hours a day. They haven't had the back up or support before. With the sport's entry into the Olympics all that is changing."
Click here to sign the petition.