Individual pursuit disappears as IOC ratifies UCI Olympic proposals

Shake-up of programme sees Wiggins and Romero denied chance to defend Beijing titles in front of home crowd

by Simon_MacMichael   December 10, 2009  

Rebecca Romero (photo by johnthescone).jpg

As expected, the International Olympic Committee this afternoon ratified proposals by cycling’s governing body, the UCI to shake up the track cycling programme for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The move sees two events – the individual pursuit and points races – dropped from both the men’s and women’s schedules, and the men’s Madison is also consigned to the scrapheap.

Instead, both genders will compete in five events – the individual sprint, team sprints and pursuit, keirins and omniums. That compares to seven events for men and three for women in Beijing last year, but it’s not the gender inequality that has sparked controversy, but rather the dropping of the individual pursuit.

The axing of the event has a particular resonance with the 2012 games being held in London, since it denies new Team Sky signing Bradley Wiggins the chance to go for a third successive gold medal in the event in the city where he grew up, and also prevents fellow Londoner Rebecca Romero from defending the title she won in Beijing.

Another cyclist who opposed the dropping of the individual pursuit was the American Taylor Phinney, who this year won the World Championship in the event at the age of 19 and who organised a petition to try to persuade the IOC and UCI not to adopt the proposals.

Often compared to the decathlon, the omnium comprises five events. Those are a flying 200m sprint against the clock, a 5km scratch race, the results of which determine the seeding for the next event, a 3km individual pursuit, followed by a 15km points race and concluding with a 1km time trial.

Commenting on the IOC's decision British Cycling performance director, Dave Brailsford said: 

"The issue of gender inequality within the Olympic track cycling events needed to be resolved and in that regard, I think the IOC move is to be applauded.

The detail of how the parity could be achieved was by adding or removing events and there were always going to be winners and losers.

It's a shame to have lost great events such as the Individual Pursuit, Points and Madison, however I believe the UCI have been very creative to include the Omnium within which the Individual Pursuit and the Points Race will still figure."