Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has announced the format of the Omnium event being introduced to the track cycling programme at the London Olympics in 2012.
The Omnium has been added as part of a shake-up of events for both male and female riders which has controversially seen the Individual Pursuit disappear for both genders, as well as the men’s Madison and Points races, with the number of events open to each gender now standing at five apiece, compared to seven for men and three for women at Beijing last year.
The decision to overhaul the programme has attracted criticism from riders such as Britain’s Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero, who will be unable to defend their Beijing Individual Pursuit titles on the Beijing Track, while American teen sensation Taylor Phinney current World Champion in the event, helped organise an unsuccessful petition to keep the race in the Olympic programme.
However, the revised programme, originally proposed by the UCI and ratified by the International Olympic Committee earlier this month, is seen as greater opportunity to win medals for female cyclists such as Victoria Pendleton, who won the Individual Sprint title at last year’s Olympics. Besides that event, male and female riders will each compete in Team Sprint, Keirin and Team Pursuit races, as well as the Omnium.
In announcing a format that places more emphasis on endurance events than that originally proposed, the UCI appears to be seeking to address criticism of its decision to drop the Individual Pursuit, Madison and Points race from the men’s programme.
In a statement on its website, it said: “The objective is to make this event more attractive to the public and to place more emphasis on endurance compared with the format used at the last three World Championships.”
The events that will be included at London 2012 are:
• Flying lap (250-metre time trial)
• Points race (men: 30 km, women: 20 km)
• Individual pursuit (men: 4 km, women: 3 km)
• Scratch race (men: 15 km, women: 10 km)
• Kilometre time trial (men), 500-metre time trial (women)
• Elimination race (24 starters)
That final race, which will be the last and potentially decisive event in the two-day competition, will comprise 24 riders, with the final competitor over the finish line on every other lap eliminated.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.