UCI makes sweeping changes to track cycling programme

The UCI today announced sweeping changes to its track cycling programme designed to make the racing more spectator-friendly and bring 'perfect parity' between the men's and women's events. The changes were approved by the UCI Management Committee at its meeting in Doha, Qatar at the UCI Road World Championships.

"While it is important that we safeguard the essence of our cycling disciplines, we also need to be brave and embrace change in order to give our sport real meaning to those who are watching live or on screens across the world," UCI President Brian Cookson said.

"The changes announced today show that we are moving with the times to ensure that our disciplines are presented in the most compelling way possible, and are rooted in the desire to attract and inspire even more fans into cycling."

The Madison will be added to the women's program for the UCI Track World Championships, and the Omnium will be shortened to just four mass-start events that will be contested on a single day, rather than six events spread over two days.

The timed events - the flying lap, 500m/1000m time trial and individual pursuit - have been removed from the Omnium, and a new mass-start event, the tempo race, has been added. Although the rules have not yet been published, a tempo race is generally one that awards points for the first two riders across the line each lap.

"Dropping the timed events means the Omnium becomes a pure endurance event, bringing better balance to the track programme," the UCI press release stated.

The individual sprint tournaments have been modified to allow more participants - 28 rather than 24. The top four athletes in the flying lap will automatically move on to the 1/8 final, skipping the first round of competition.

To shorten the sessions, the kilometer, 500m time trials, and team pursuit qualifying heats will be contested with two riders or teams on the track at a time - starting from opposite sides - as in the individual pursuit, and there will be no more finals for the non-medal team pursuit rounds (5th-8th).

The UCI also added a first round to the Team Sprint events, bringing the World Cup and World Championships events in line with the Olympic Games format.

After the controversy in the keirin at the Olympic Games, where riders were twice stopped in the men's final, the rules for the event have been clarified regarding what constitutes a rider overtaking the pacer. The sprint distance for the keirin has also been lengthened to three laps "to make the race more tactical", the UCI stated.

Rules on disqualification and false starts in the team pursuits have also been clarified.

Finally, the points structure for the Madison has been brought in line with that of the points race, with 20 points on the line for lapping the field and sprints every 10 laps. Double points will be on offer in the final sprint of both events "in order to keep the race in play until the final sprint".

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