Mørkøv miffed at Olympic track programme shake-up

Current Madison and team pursuit world champion Michael Mørkøv has expressed his opposition to the UCI's recent plan to eliminate three endurance track events from the 2012 Olympic Games. While the Dane understands the UCI's desire to bring parity to the men's and women's Olympic track cycling programme, he feels it undermines the balance between sprint and endurance cycling.

"By taking the Madison, points race and individual pursuit disciplines away, there will be a huge impact on endurance track cycling as the prestige in those events will be very low, if they aren't on the Olympic programme," Mørkøv told Cyclingnews. "Therefore, there will be a big risk of losing some of the best track athletes, and we will no longer have the best athletes in the world competing against each other - that cannot be the goal of UCI.

"I see a big risk of changing track cycling into some kind of sprint cycling."

Replacing the three endurance track disciplines with an omnium competition isn't a viable solution to Mørkøv. "The idea of bringing the omnium to the Olympic programme is, as I see it, a compromise. If that is done, we are not going to have the world's best pursuiters and points race riders at the starting line in the future."

In addition to what Mørkøv sees as a potential dilution of talent in endurance cycling disciplines, the 24-year-old Dane believe the historical aspect of the events will take a big hit. "One of the key points in sport is history, and when the points race, Madison and individual pursuit are removed from the programme, the UCI is going to destroy a big part of track cycling's history," Mørkøv said. "The Madison does not have a very long history in the Olympic programme, as the points race and individual pursuit have, but even so, it is always one of the biggest events during a track championship.

"The history of Madison racing is really old, and a lot of people know the discipline from watching the 6-days in Europe. And among the riders, there has always been a high prestige associated with the Madison. By taking this off the Olympic programme, the prestige of the event will dissapear. The 6-days organizers will have an even more difficult situation than they have at the moment in the [current] financial crisis."

Denmark's Mørkøv has earned multiple national championships in the Madison, points race, scratch race and team pursuit in addition to numerous victories and podium appearances at track World Cups in the same disciplines. Mørkøv won a silver medal in the team pursuit at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is a two-time bronze medalist at the track world championships, in 2007 for the team pursuit and 2008 for the Madison.

Mørkøv is also a competitor on the European six day circuit with regular partner and compatriot Alex Rasmussen. The Danish pair have most notably won the 2007 and 2008 Grenoble Six Day and the 2009 Copenhagen Six Day. Mørkøv also competes on the road for Team Saxo Bank.

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.