Mixed gender track cycling test events will take place behind closed doors in Switzerland this week, reports The Guardian. The UCI is to run a trial involving young international riders in response to a request from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is pushing for more gender equality from international federations. If successful, mixed events could form part of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The riders involved will take part in a mixed team sprint and a mixed madison event with the UCI also investigating the possibility of a mixed time-trial relay on the road.
IOC president, Thomas Bach, has been a major driving force behind the decision. The inclusion of mixed gender events is one suggestion from his Agenda 2020 programme which seeks to modernise the Olympics. Currently, mixed teams feature in just two Olympic sports, equestrian and sailing – with mixed crews in the latter permitted in just one event.
UCI president Brian Cookson said that the sport would give the idea a go. “When the president of the IOC says something, we take it seriously. So we’ll have a look at it.”
“The Olympics is changing and we have to adapt to a different world. Let’s be open about it, let’s look at it and try some practical experiments. If it’s a disaster and it doesn’t work, we can report back and tell the IOC we tried it and it didn’t work.”
Cookson says that one of the main challenges will be to manage differences in performance between the genders.
“The coaches and sports scientists tell me that men are between 10 and 15 per cent stronger and faster in any given cycling event so we have to find ways of managing that difference if men and women will be competing in the same event at the same time.”
While Cookson said that mixed events had ‘no real heritage’ in cycling, a team relay event involving both men and women has featured at the UCI Mountain Biking and Trials World Championships since 1999. Normally, teams will have three male riders – one elite, one under-23, and one junior – and one female elite rider.