Olympic News: Phil Liggett says MTB and BMX shouldn't be in the Games, Cav recces Box Hill again

Commentator blasts rejig of track programme, teams take to Surrey roads ahead of tomorrow's big race

by Simon_MacMichael   July 27, 2012  

Mark Cavendish on Box Hill (pic Surrey News)

Veteran cycling commentator Phil Liggett has risked the wrath of BMX and mountain biking fans by suggesting that those events should not be at the Olympics. Meawhile, last minute preparations are being made ahead of tomorrow's men's road race, with world champion Mark Cavendish and Tour de France champion Bradley WIggins among those out on training rides yesterday.

Speaking to the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, Liggett criticised changes to the track programme introduced by the IOC and UCI that result in five events in the Velodrome for both men and women, with the individual pursuit one of those to be ditched: "It is absolutely disgraceful what they have done," he said. "They have devastated the track with the new events and taking out the iconic events of the Olympics," Liggett said.

"They have taken out the exciting and interesting events - the individual pursuit, the 1km time trial and the women's 500m time trial, and put in an omnium that no one will ever understand. There is only one rider from each country in the omnium and they are a jack of all trades and master of none."

"Nations and riders complained, but the UCI wanted equality. They got that but they also took out women's events. They introduced BMX. Great, but I am sure [Olympics founder] Pierre de Coubertin would have laughed his head off if he found out it was an Olympic discipline.

"It might be exciting but we are talking the Olympic Games. We have never had a good mountain biking event. Thousands will watch them but they are not Olympic gold medal events.

"They weren't meant to be in the Olympic Games."

Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, together with the rest of Team GB, took to the Box Hill circuit yesterday for a training session there as the big race approaches. Other countries including Australia, Belgium and France were also out training on Surrey's roads yesterday.

There are more pictures accompanying this story on the Surrey County Council website, which also has links to useful information for those looking to attend this weekend's races.

39 user comments

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"...They introduced BMX. Great, but I am sure [Olympics founder] Pierre de Coubertin would have laughed his head off if he found out it was an Olympic discipline."

He seems rather ill-informed about how broad the scope of the Olympics has been since its founding in 1890. Painting was a medal event in the 1920's.

http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A87734505

I'm not making a judgement about what should be in and what should be out, perhaps Ligget should've thought a bit before flapping his gums as well. It's an event synthesised out of the cultural whims of its age, that's one of the reasons the content changes.

posted by thereandbackagain [155 posts]
27th July 2012 - 9:11

5 Likes

He probably wants Olympic etching and poetry to be reintroduced.

Wasn't the test MTB race really well received by riders and spectators and maybe this time the course, although not mountainous by any stretch of the imagination will help provide a much better MTB race?

posted by Bagpuss [102 posts]
27th July 2012 - 9:20

6 Likes

The real point here is that the Track schedule is curtailed to make way for BMX & MTB in some way! How? Why cant the track events go beyond 1 week? Its not as if they have to make room in the velodrome for something else? Just smacks of UCI dictatorship ... managing to rig the "games" to suit their purpose which seems to dilute the domination of cycling events by one country (if they can!)!! If there had been a longer track schedule then maybe more of us would have got tickets!
Watching the games on TV cos can't get tickets & won't pay for something that was going to be free on principle!
Com'on Cav!

posted by GrimpeurChris [59 posts]
27th July 2012 - 9:38

4 Likes

It has to be said though that many ex-MTBers and BMXers do go over to the road/track and rarely the other way round and that, to me, says something about the status of the respective disciplines.
BMX is grown ups on children's bikes and Mountain biking is grown ups acting like children.
Road cycling is for real grown ups.

posted by Some Fella [815 posts]
27th July 2012 - 9:48

3 Likes

Chris Hoy made his competitive debut in BMX too

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
27th July 2012 - 10:03

5 Likes

While the individual pursuit was "the" track event the most watchable has to be the devil which is only in as part of the omnium.

posted by Swirly [62 posts]
27th July 2012 - 10:26

6 Likes

GrimpeurChris wrote:
The real point here is that the Track schedule is curtailed to make way for BMX & MTB in some way! How? Why cant the track events go beyond 1 week? Its not as if they have to make room in the velodrome for something else?

I seem to recall it was nothing to do with dates/schedules and more to do with number of events, you cant just add events to the olympics, for every one that is added one must be dropped within that discipline. So add mens/womens BMX and MTB forces 4 track events out. Same when they had to drop mens events to add in more womens events so it was an even distribution.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [420 posts]
27th July 2012 - 11:11

5 Likes

Some Fella wrote:

BMX is grown ups on children's bikes and Mountain biking is grown ups acting like children.
Road cycling is for real grown ups.

Sounds familiar, last time I have heard this sort of wisdom was in early 90's. From people who couldn't stand the popularity of mountain bikes.It is as ludicrous as Ligget's comments.Poor old man.

posted by londonbrick [25 posts]
27th July 2012 - 11:54

5 Likes

STATO wrote:
GrimpeurChris wrote:
The real point here is that the Track schedule is curtailed to make way for BMX & MTB in some way! How? Why cant the track events go beyond 1 week? Its not as if they have to make room in the velodrome for something else?

I seem to recall it was nothing to do with dates/schedules and more to do with number of events, you cant just add events to the olympics, for every one that is added one must be dropped within that discipline. So add mens/womens BMX and MTB forces 4 track events out. Same when they had to drop mens events to add in more womens events so it was an even distribution.


but why can't you have more medals when there are now more sports?
its ridiculous that an entire stadium is built and could have sold out many times over has its programme cut.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
27th July 2012 - 11:57

8 Likes

theendinfrench wrote:
I'd expect comments like this from an uninformed outsider but it seems Ligget is becoming a seriously bigoted, grumpy old man...
I can't even watch ITV4's TdF coverage anymore because of his (and Sherwen's) ignorant comments.
I agree that removing the track events is outrageous but to suggest that BMX & MTB have no place at the Olympics is shameful.

I agree, Phil Luddite defiantly suffers from a case of the Murray Walkers. I went off him years ago when he scoffed at the computers estimate of when a break being caught was out by 1km and when he had a rant about wind turbines and the overly dumbed down explanation of cycling and.......

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
27th July 2012 - 12:15

6 Likes

Pretty shortsighted comment in general. And agree with some of the ITV4 commentary.

He would have been better placed to say that he thinks the ommitted track events should have been kept in at the expense of some of the other olympic disciplines rather than focussing on other cycling events that he seems to have issue with.

IMHO darts could easily be argued to be included as a discpline given that shooting or archery are already included. But obviously I'd never actually want that!!

Ideally I'd make way for MTB (XC and DH), BMX (racing, dirt or flatland)- and CX for that matter - as olympic disciplines over some of the other "sports" that are currently included as events

posted by Carvers [41 posts]
27th July 2012 - 12:16

7 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
BMX is grown ups on children's bikes and Mountain biking is grown ups acting like children.
Road cycling is for real grown ups.

Ha ha, like it!

Liggett, an old-skool roadie and CTC stalwart, and has his opinion. Doesn't make it right or wrong, and I'm not sure whether there is a right or wrong. Wasn't BMX brought in to appeal to kids? Or perhaps it was that a brief, mult-rider event with a good prospect of some colour and drama was more TV-friendly than almost robotic looking IP pairs circulating on the boards 16 times.

It all depends on what the IOC/UCI et al want us to see. Dropping the IP is criminal in my opinion but I understand the 'all-rounder' appeal of the Omnium where most are specialists, like the Decathlon and Heptathlon, or even Triathlon. Try telling Daley Thompson or Kelly Sotherton it's irrelevant.

Olympic success is obviously a huge thing to achieve but in my view it's a tad irrelevant, certainly for XC and road nowadays. Just one chance of winning every four years, a lot can change in that time for any athlete. The road race is a comparable event to the Worlds except you don't get to wear that jersey for 12 months and if the course doesn't suit your strengths then tough luck.

If we're discussing which ones are 'Olympic quality' branches of the sport then shouldn't Cyclo-Cross get a mention? Or bicycle polo? TBH I'll be glad when it's all over, though of course happier still if British riders net a decent medal haul.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
27th July 2012 - 12:26

2 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
It has to be said though that many ex-MTBers and BMXers do go over to the road/track and rarely the other way round and that, to me, says something about the status of the respective disciplines.
BMX is grown ups on children's bikes and Mountain biking is grown ups acting like children.
Road cycling is for real grown ups.

Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips are excellent track cyclists, Liam Killeen has trained and raced on road, Annie Last has raced cyclocross... I don't think you have a point.

posted by Pierre [87 posts]
27th July 2012 - 12:34

2 Likes

Dirt Mag is dissing the Olympic mountain-biking for being rubbish. I'm not very convinced many mountain-bikers care much whether it's in or out. I could certainly do without it.

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
27th July 2012 - 13:16

3 Likes

BMX and mountain biking have the X Games, that is where they belong.

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [116 posts]
27th July 2012 - 14:25

6 Likes

Surely if anything needs to be cut its the incessant swimming?! People winning 7/8 golds in a single games is a joke. I'm sure Hoy would have got 7 had they introduced lots more 'almost exactly the same as the last event but just a tiny bit different' races like in the pool. Kilo, kilo whilst on the blue line, kilo the other way round the track...

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
27th July 2012 - 14:42

4 Likes

The BMX and MTB events take place in a different place, with different people, to the track events. The dimunition in track races isn't caused by the existence of BMX and MTB.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [183 posts]
27th July 2012 - 14:50

5 Likes

Tripod16 wrote:
BMX and mountain biking have the X Games, that is where they belong.

Don't think any MTB discupline is, or ever has been, in the XGames?

posted by Carvers [41 posts]
27th July 2012 - 14:57

4 Likes

Can't say I have an opinion on MTB racing in the Olympics, but I think BMX certainly has its place and it beats me why cyclocross isn't in already too. Cycle polo may well merit a place as well in time to come.

I frequently hear patronising comments about BMX and small wheels from road riders when I'm practising. I often ask them if they want a shot and when they take me up on it they generally make it halfway round the track before realising it's a whole lot more demanding than they'd appreciated. Throw in seven other riders and fierce cornering technique and you have an Olympic sport that's up there with boxing and fencing in terms of channelled aggression.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
27th July 2012 - 15:43

5 Likes

Maybe i'm wrong here but to me bmx is a miny version of mtb ?

smaller bikes on a smaller dirt track with a few jumps, bumps and corners. I dont mean it cant be an Olympic sport though as for goodness sake we have synchronized swimming - to me that should not be allowed full stop never mind an Olympic sport.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2825 posts]
27th July 2012 - 15:52

3 Likes

PS Liggett is a bufoon Big Grin

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2825 posts]
27th July 2012 - 15:53

1 Like

Take sailing and rowing out before the track events.

MTB should be in. BMX should be in. Anything on two wheels should be in!

Phil L is an institution... (or should be in one Devil )

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [208 posts]
27th July 2012 - 16:08

3 Likes

Na, keep rowing and sailing in they are the only other events where we win medals.

The track athletes cant even be arsed to come to their home games opening ceremony, to busy lying in the sun in Portugal.

According to the althletics boss on Sky sports today "we cant have them standing for 4 hours so close to the competition, they are better off in Portugal where its warm".

Bin the bloody lot of them.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2825 posts]
27th July 2012 - 16:14

3 Likes

Gotta agree that Liggett lost the plot some time ago and while it's true the track side of the things have been buggered up, his comments seem short sighted. BMX feeds riders through into track sprinting as they get older (Hoy, Staff etc.) and MTB produces some fine roadies. Wonder what Clancy and Trott thinks of his comments on the omnium..."jack of all trades master of none".. ouch! Surprise

Exustrek's picture

posted by Exustrek [21 posts]
27th July 2012 - 16:15

3 Likes

'Maybe i'm wrong here but to me bmx is a miny version of mtb ?'

in a way, I can see your point. But it's a *watchable* mini version of mtb. I love mountain biking, but it ain't a spectator sport...

posted by andyp [1013 posts]
27th July 2012 - 17:37

6 Likes

Simon E wrote:
If we're discussing which ones are 'Olympic quality' branches of the sport then shouldn't Cyclo-Cross get a mention? Or bicycle polo?

Don't think we'll see CX or bike polo in the Olympics any time soon, basically the olympic charter says that to be included in the games the sport has to be widely practised on all five continents (or have a governing body that can throw tons of money and political pressure at the IOC, a la keirin), and both CX and bike polo are pretty much only a Western Europe and N. America thing. Bike polo was very niche until only very recently (correct me if I'm wrong) and doesn't even have an international governing body that the IOC recognises.

Some unpopular sports are just grandfathered in, like gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling, since they are considered classic and quintessential to the games, whereas others are genuinely puzzling - I mean does anyone actually know someone who does diving or synchronised swimming as hobby? If anything, rugby should be reintroduced as an olympic sport, judging by how well the world cup does every time.

posted by Shanghaied [41 posts]
28th July 2012 - 1:11

4 Likes

I agree with Phils distaste that some amazingly exciting track events have been sacrificed, although i love the BMX and MTB events but never mind all that everyone, how about considering that somehow Golf has made its way onto the 2016 Olympic schedule !

posted by scrapper [62 posts]
28th July 2012 - 6:21

4 Likes

Shanghaied wrote:
Don't think we'll see CX or bike polo in the Olympics any time soon, basically the olympic charter says that to be included in the games the sport has to be widely practised on all five continents

Sorry, it was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek remark.

Quote:
does anyone actually know someone who does diving or synchronised swimming as hobby?

No, my friends aren't that interesting, most of them like cycling, oddly enough.

Triathlon could be considered a 'jack of all trades' combination of quite different endurance sports made worse by doing them all in one go! Respect to anyone who can train and race all 3.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
28th July 2012 - 10:49

4 Likes

Phil is an old man who is clearly frustrated. I think he has a Point about the track. I love watching the indoor track cycling and can't see why they have reduced the Olympic program. I would think that the UCI would want to celebrate it's variations as much as possible.

I like Mountain Biking, but given our lack of mountains, and don't mind the BMX, but for me BMX just seems like such a fringe sport which is ultimately pretty transitory (given the incidences of accidents) that it just seems that it lacks something to make it more mainstream. I see the arguements both ways, but X games does seem a better fit for it.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1186 posts]
28th July 2012 - 22:45

4 Likes

I really hope Phil sees just how popular MTB and BMX will be at the venues. The Olympics should constantly evolve, I personally think having DH MTB and 4X in the Summer games would logically be the flip side of alpine skiing in the Winter games. Maybe he would be happy if all competitors had to use 'big wheel' 29ers?

posted by Ottadini [16 posts]
31st July 2012 - 13:23

4 Likes