UCI plans major shake-up of Olympic track programme

Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) races at the 2008 Track World Championships

Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) races at the 2008 Track World Championships (Image credit: Stephen McMahon)

The UCI is planning a major shake-up of the Olympic track cycling programme and will propose radical changes to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The changes are designed to bring parity to the men's and women's programmes, with five events for each at the 2012 Games in London.

Cyclingnews understands that the individual pursuit, points race and madison would all be removed from the Olympic programme under the UCI's proposals. Instead, the programme would comprise men's and women's individual sprints, a team sprint, a keirin, a team pursuit and an omnium. Racers may compete in the following events as part of the omnium: flying 200m, points race, scratch race and individual pursuit and possibly others to be determined.

"I can confirm that I was mandated yesterday by the UCI to work out how we are going to achieve parity within track cycling for the 2012 Olympics, and it's a matter we're looking at with some urgency," said McQuaid. "The IOC wants to make an announcement about the programme for London by December 12."

Dave Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director, said, "It's always a real shame to lose some events. The madison and individual pursuit are such classics, but I think it's exciting and innovative, and it brings parity from a gender perspective. We will have to change our strategy for 2012 but we are already looking at what we are doing. I like [the proposals]."

Bradley Wiggins, the Olympic pursuit gold medallist in Athens and Beijing, said, "It seems strange to scrap so many events. I'm disappointed because it's my event that is involved, but then, I don't know how exciting a pursuit is to watch - off the top of my head, I don't think I'd be interested in the omnium. I'd probably do the team pursuit, and maybe the individual time trial."

Sir Chris Hoy welcomed the proposed changes. He won all three sprint events at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, after his specialist event, the kilometre, was dropped from the Olympic programme in 2005.

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Richard Moore is a freelance journalist and author. His first book, In Search of Robert Millar (HarperSport), won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards. His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes (HarperSport), was long-listed for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

He writes on sport, specialising in cycling, and is a regular contributor to Cyclingnews, the Guardian, skyports.com, the Scotsman and Procycling magazine.

He is also a former racing cyclist who represented Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 1998 Tour de Langkawi

His next book, Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France, will be published by Yellow Jersey in May 2011.

Another book, Sky’s the Limit: British Cycling’s Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, will also be published by HarperSport in June 2011.