In a bid to save the individual pursuit from Olympic extinction, current world champion Taylor Phinney has pleaded for the UCI and IOC to consider keeping the discipline on the Olympic programme for 2012. If removed from the London Games in 2012, along with the men's Madison and Points Race, Phinney has threatened to turn his back on the velodrome and concentrate on a career in road racing.
"The pursuit has helped me a lot in my career and brought me to where I am today. It would be a big blow to lose it from the Olympic programme." Phinney told Cyclingnews from his current training base in Austin, Texas.
"But there are a lot of other things I want to do in my career. So if I have to move away from the track now and go straight to road then I will."
Phinney was speaking on the back of UCI Pat Mcquaid's comments. The Irishman spoke to Cyclingnews earlier in the week: "There is only one reason the US are saying keep the pursuit, and this is Taylor Phinney. If this was four years ago, there wouldn't be a comment coming out of America on the individual pursuit as they didn't have an individual pursuiter."
However Phinney, who was planning on riding the pursuit in London in 2012 disagreed and urged more riders and federations to step up and petition the sport's governing body before it was too late. He pointed to an online petition in which people could show their support.
"I seem to be the only one who has stepped forward and tried to fight for this. I've not seen the Australian, New Zealand or British federations step forward. All of those federations have really strong riders like Jesse Sergent Jack Bobridge, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas. The British have the fastest time in a standard position and that's faster than what I rode, so I don't understand why they're not trying to protect their event."
According to Phinney the gender equality the UCI and IOC are striving for can be attained but with keeping the pursuit, and possibly dropping other events that don't necessarily have the same prestige and history as the pursuit. "I get the gender equality argument but the thing with the pursuit is that you already have equality with the women already having their own pursuit.
"I feel like I'm someone who can bring positive publicity and a younger crowd to the track but if they do go through with this and kill the endurance events then I'll have to move on."
Phinney also drew on a speech he'd heard in which Lance Armstrong said he'd started cycling because it was an Olympic sport and that he'd wanted to compete in the Olympics. "I would love to go to London and put on a show for everybody. But aside from my aspirations, there's nothing that's as pure and as controllable as the individual pursuit. It's a special event."
If you agree, you can sign the petition to save the pursuit online.
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