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Rule change could allow riders to target Olympic medals
Representatives from the UCI and the IOC are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the possible inclusion of cyclo-cross racing at the Winter Olympics.
According to reports in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the UCI's off-road co-ordinator Peter Van Den Abeele will meet with the IOC sports director, Christophe Dubi.
The inclusion of cyclo-cross in the Winter Olympics would be a huge boost for international profile of the sport. However it would also need a major shift in the spirit of the Winter Games.
Current IOC rules only allow sports that are practiced on snow or ice in the Winter Olympic programme. However the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) is also pushing to include cross country running in future editions of the Winter Olympics and cyclo-cross could take advantage of their influence at the IOC.
"If they decide to replace the rule "the sports must be practiced on snow and ice with "should be practiced only during the winter month", then there may be a chance," Van Den Abeele told Het Nieuwsblad.
If the IOC included cyclo-cross it would boost the international interest in the sport currently dominated by Belgium. It would likely mean that national federations would invest more money in the discipline.
"Olympic Committees of all countries will suddenly be investing in cyclo-cross," Van Den Abeele said.
It not the first time the IOC has considered adding cyclo-cross to the Winter Games. In 2009, various national federations were reported to be in talks with the IOC about its inclusion.
New UCI President Brian Cookson has backed the idea. In December he suggested that the Winter Olympics was missing out by not including cyclo-cross.
“I’m a fan of cyclo-cross, beer, fries and mayonnaise. Cyclo-cross as a discipline at the Winter Games is currently impossible because it is not practiced on snow or ice, but perhaps the IOC will one day revise rule. It’s currently missing something,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.