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UCI president Brian Cookson at the Tour Down Under.
Two riders per nation allowed in track sprint events
Nations will now be allowed to enter two riders in each of the track sprint events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, after the UCI announced changes to their quotas.
At London in 2012, countries could only enter one rider into each of the individual sprint events and the Keirin. The decision was supposed to reduce the dominance of a single nation, after Britain swept the board in Beijing. However, it lead to some criticism that the fields were weakened, with many strong riders unable to compete.
The rule prevented defending champion Chris Hoy from going for his second title, after Britain opted to enter the younger Jason Kenny into the event. Kenny had finished second to Hoy at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Hoy was given the nod for the Keirin, which he had been dominant in since switching to it after the 2004 Games. The decision is likely to increase the competition for medals in 2016.
Off the track, there is some good news for African cycling. There will be an extra five quota places on the African Tour circuit, bringing the total up to nine. In 2012, Morocco, Algeria and Eritrea filled the spots awarded from the results on the African Tour. Namibia and South Africa both gained entry through the African Championships.
African cycling has seen a huge increase in riders at the top two levels. Pro-Continental team MTN-Qhubeka have been largely responsible for that, however, there are a number of Africans going it alone in the WorldTour, such as Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) and Natnael Berhane (Europcar).
Other changes see hosts Brazil automatically receiving places in all of the cycling events. In London 2012, the host nation received an automatic quota places in only the BMX event. One road quota place will be taken from the men’s road event and moved to the track, to balance it out with the addition of a rider in the women’s team pursuit.
Finally, an additional three nations will be allowed to compete in the BMX event and the minimum age has been lowered to 18.