Dani King claims British Cycling's Olympic selection is 'unfair'

Dani King (Wiggle High5) has told The Daily Telegraph that she is surprised to have been left off the women's team headed to the Rio Olympics in August, claiming that British Cycling's selection process is ‘unfair.'

"In terms of results, I should have been selected, it's as simple as that. I should be second on the list behind Lizzie [Armitstead]," King said.

The British Olympic Association will officially announce the teams selected for the Olympics on Friday, however, based on a lead to the press, The Daily Telegraph reported some of those selected and not selected on Wednesday.

The UCI announced the nations and quotas for the women's road events last month, and Great Britain secured three riders for the road race and one for the time trial. However, the rider who competes in the time trial must also compete in the road race. Lizzie Armitstead is the only rider to have secured an automatic spot based on winning the World Championships in September last year.

As for the remaining two spots, it was reported that Armitstead's Boels-Dolmans teammate Nikki Harris has secured a spot. Harris, who has spent much of her career focused on cyclo-cross, had a strong first-time Classics campaign this spring.

Harris helped Armitstead to victories at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche, where she finished 22nd and 23rd herself. She also placed sixth at Le Samyn des Dames and 13th at Omloop van het Hageland.

In an interview with Cyclingnews in March, Harris said that she expected British Cycling to consider her for the Olympic Games and that she planned to be strong enough to help Armitstead win the goal medal.

"At the moment we only have three, and that's pretty much what it's going to be," Harris said in March. "Obviously, it will be Lizzie, and then there are two more spots up for grabs.

"I know that Emma Pooley is making a comeback and wants to do the time trial as well, so she is pretty much going to be the second spot. There are a couple of us going for the third spot."

Though not yet confirmed, it is widely assumed, and reported, that comeback rider Emma Pooley will be chosen. In an interview with Cyclingnews in April, Armitstead said that ‘other nations will be scared of Pooley and me at the Olympics.'

Pooley retired from professional bike racing in 2014 and has been competing in duathlon and triathlon. She made a return to the road this spring with the Olympic time trial and the race road in her programme. She won an Olympic silver medal in the time trial in 2008 and was world time trial champion in 2010, and the hilly courses in Rio de Janeiro suit her ability, making her a medal hopeful for the time trial.

However, her return to the peloton has been sub-par. She has only raced two events where she placed 66th at the Women's Tour de Yorkshire and 45th overall at the Aviva Women's Tour.

As for King, she has had a strong season under the Wiggle High5 program. Her year started at the Santos Women's Tour where she placed fourth overall and won the mountain competition. She was third at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, 14th at Strade Bianche, 12th at Pajot Hills Classic, 11th overall at the Tour of California, seventh at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, and 11th overall at the Aviva Women's Tour.

In King's interview with The Daily Telegraph, she said British Cycling's selection was unfair in chosing riders based on potential rather than qualification criteria.

"I want to be very clear, this is not about Emma," King said, and she said the same of Harris. "I harbour no ill feeling towards her. She is an incredible athlete and a lovely person. And she was very open about coming back late in the cycle and leaving it up to the selectors to decide. But how can they select someone who has only ridden a couple of races? The sport has moved on so much in the last couple of years.

"I was given nine criteria points at the beginning of the year and was told selection would be based on meeting those. I was told to focus on the hardest races and I exceeded all expectations in terms of my performances and my results."

King was told that she could not appeal because she was no longer part of British Cycling's podium programme.

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