Olympic gold medallist critical of IOC over track changes
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Olympic gold medallist critical of IOC over track changes

by Conal Andrews at 6:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
Triple Olympic medal winner Scott McGrory has warned of a bleak future for track cycling due to the pending elimination of key events from the Games programme.

The former Australian rider, who took gold and silver medals in the Madison at the 2000 and 1996 Games respectively, plus bronze in the team pursuit in 1988, faults the IOC in the matter.

“Track cycling, it seems, is about to be destroyed by the International Olympic Committee,” he wrote on Ozcycling.com. “We’ve heard that the IOC have applied pressure to the UCI to increase parity between male and female events, and also drop the Points and Madison races from the Olympic program, to be replaced with the Omnium. The claim from the IOC is that the Points and Madison races are too complicated for the wider non-cycling specific audience! They also demanded to know why female riders have fewer events than male riders.

“The UCI have effectively been told by the IOC - sort this out, or we will! Meaning, you (UCI) cull the events and retain some control, or we (IOC) will drop whatever events we want.”

The London 2012 Olympics will see male and female riders contesting five events each. Women had only three events in Beijing. While they will be happy with the addition of two sets of medals, it has posed difficulties for the previous programme.

McGrory sees a clear issue with the rumoured dropping of long-standing events such as the individual pursuit, the Madison and the points race. He argues that the latter two are the ‘ultimate track endurance events’ at the Olympics, and that the shedding of the longer events will mean that road riders will ultimately turn their backs on this wing of the sport.

“I don’t see a bright future for Track Cycling beyond the London Olympics if, as expected, the IOC’s amendments are brought in. With the longer events eliminated there’ll be a big swing towards the shorter events. The Omnium consists of - Flying 200mt, 1km Time Trial, 3km Pursuit, Scratch Race and Points Race. I can see that the typical Kilo type rider starting to focus on the Omnium, especially when you consider how important the 200mt and 1km TT will be.

“Therefore riders such as the current World Omnium Champion Leigh Howard, who has a contract with Columbia HTC for the road, will concentrate on road racing and forget about the track. The difference between what is required for a road career, and what it will take to train for a flying 200 metres is far too great to do both.”

McGrory feels that future team pursuit teams will be comprised of riders who haven’t yet secured pro road contracts. Britain and Australia, who have dominated track cycling for many, many years, have often fielded big name road riders such as Bradley Wiggins, Brad McGee and Stuart O’Grady in their best events.

“This [the changes] will make the team pursuit increasingly less important to the Road Teams, making it difficult for any Pro’s to be allowed time away to train with their National Track Teams, even if they want to.”

Former team pursuit gold medallist Mike Turtur has recently been appointed UCI Track Commission member. He said that there is little hope of a solution. “At the time of my appointment the discussions had already been going for some time” he told the Australian website. “I made some suggestions but was shut down very quickly. The IOC want to drop events to reduce the number of riders at the Games…it seems that Cycling is constantly under fire”.

The UCI is set to announce the exact changes in early December.

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