Pursuit petition submitted to IOC, decision due this week?
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pursuit petition submitted to IOC, decision due this week?

by Conal Andrews at 9:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 

Printed copies of a petition totalling over 4,000 names were sent to the International Olympic Committee yesterday, pushing for the retention of the individual pursuit in the London 2012 Games.

According to AP reports, a total of 4,408 people signed the online petition in advance of the IOC’s executive board meeting tomorrow and Thursday. Amongst the topics for discussion are the reduction in numbers of male track events from seven to five and, with that, the rumoured dropping of events such as the individual pursuit, the points race and the Madison.

The UCI has been lobbying for more events for female riders, who had just three chances to take gold on the track in Beijing. The IOC backs parity, but said that the total number of events cannot be increased. As a result, both male and female riders will have five events apiece in 2012.

The UCI is thought to be in favour of removing those three aforementioned events and adding the multi-event omnium to the programme.

"This decision [to drop the pursuit] would forever change track cycling," said world champion Taylor Phinney's father, former Tour de France stage winner Davis Phinney. "And at a huge loss, in my view."

Phinney junior has voiced his own opposition to the plans, as have the current Olympic champions Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero.

Amongst the names of those in the petition are Phinney's father and mother, Davis Phinney and the1984 Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, cycling legend Eddy Merckx, American cyclists including Alexi Grewal, Connie Paraskevin, Sheila Young, and Roger Young, plus the 1980 Olympic cycling gold medalist Victor V. Manakov.

Lance Armstrong has also given his backing to the drive to retain the pursuit.

1992 gold medallist Chris Boardman is another who sees the merits of the event. "It fits with the most basic Olympic ideals, 'the highest, the fastest, the strongest, the furthest,'" he stated. “The general public get it. It's a straight race, man against man or woman against woman and the first across the line wins. It is easy to relate to an individual.”

There’s also an additional advantage, he says. "It doesn't take a strong nation to compete, just an individual, so it lends itself to countries with small budgets, unlike the team events.”

While the omnium does include an individual pursuit, the series of races are weighted towards the sprinters. There are fears that if the rumoured events are dropped, that there will be an exodus of endurance riders from track events.

Riders such as Boardman, Wiggins and Australian Bradley McGee – who wore the leaders’ jerseys in all three Grand Tours during his career – all successfully mixed road and track events.

It is likely that the final decision will be announced this week.

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