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Olympic cycling programme remains unaltered for Rio 2016

UCI wanted return of points races, plus new MTB and BMX events, but IOC rejects request

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that the cycling programme for Rio 2016 will be unchanged to that of London 2012, dashing the UCI’s hopes that an additional three events might by added, including men’s and women’s points races.

That event was dropped after Beijing in 2008, with the track programme given a major overhaul ahead of London hosting the Games last year to ensure an equal number of races for men and women. The individual pursuit for both genders also disappeared, while the six-discipline Omnium was added.

The UCI had asked in February for the three extra events to be added, but yesterday, the IOC said: "The programme for the 2016 Rio Games will be the same as the 2012 London Games regarding events and disciplines in cycling."

That means that as in London, there will be five track events for each gender; the individual and team sprints, the keirin, the Omnium, and the team pursuit.

The one significant difference will be that at Rio, the number of female riders in the latter event will be four, not three, and it will be ridden over 4 kilometres, instead of the 3 kilometres at London.

As last year, there will be two events on the road for both men and women, the road race and individual time trial, as well as one event for each gender on BMX and cross-country mountain biking.

Besides the return of the points races on the track, the UCI had also lobbied for a mountain bike elimination race and BMX freestyle event to be included following its management committee meeting in Louisville, Kentucky in February.

Neither of those events will be included at Rio, however. UCI president Pat McQuaid, who is a member of the IOC, says that the full cycling programme will be reviewed following the 2016 Games.

He also maintains that should he lose next month’s UCI presidential election to British Cycling president Brian Cookson, cycling’s influence within the Olympic movement could be damaged.

"If I lose the presidency, then cycling loses an IOC member," said McQuaid, quoted on

"As an IOC member you can influence decisions and you can influence your colleagues much easier than if you're on the outside.

"Whilst the IOC have recently stated the programme for Rio 2016 will be exactly as it was for London 2012, they've stated that after 2016 there will be a complete review of the programme, the events and the disciplines for 2020.

"I think it will be very important that the UCI is in there, with its influence in ensuring cycling gets its just rewards and is not in anyway disadvantaged. That would be the case if we didn't have an IOC member."

McQuaid has been UCI president since 2005, but was only elected to membership of the IOC in 2010.

Fellow IOC member Dick Pound, former head of the World Anti Doping Agency, said in January that should senior UCI figures such as McQuaid be implicated in helping to cover up the Lance Armstrong scandal, cycling could disappear from the Olympics altogether.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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