2012 Olympic Programme - Part 3
As predicted back in September (see first item below) the “suggestion” that the 2012 track cycling events be cutback as been approved after a couple of months of “consideration”. Then I asked why the UCI was supporting the loss of events like the Pursuit when they were charged with promoting the sport. And just a few weeks ago I asked why UCI president Pat McQuaid was rubbishing World Champion Taylor Phinney for opposing the cutbacks. However this week we also hear that - “Pat McQuaid, the International Cycling Union (UCI) president, is one of six candidates the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive committee has nominated today for election to the IOC. The election, considered a formality, will take place at the 122nd IOC Session, which will be held in conjunction with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada in February 2010.” (Cyclingnews.com) - no suggestion that there is any connection of course!
So just to recap at the London games there will be gender-equality in medals (though not in competitor numbers) through the reduction of the male events to five. So we have now lost both the Kilo and the Pursuit - two events where GB have had recent champions. Less medals equals less money for GB cycling in the long term. For London fewer track events will not make building the velodrome any cheaper but could mean that the 2012 events will not reach their ticket sales targets.
So this is being spun as an improvement - through gender equality. But don’t forget that it was the IOC / UCI dropping the short distance time trials in 2008 that reduced the number of women’s events to just 4. Keeping the 500m would have made 5 events for women - the same as the “new and expanded” schedule for 2012. To quote one rider “Today is a sad day for endurance track cycling”
2012 Olympic Programme - Part 2
At last someone with a bit of influence has raised their head above the parapet. Taylor Phinney, current world pursuit champion, has said what many having been thinking - why drop established Olympic track events? His request for retaining the 2008 events for 2012 has been rubbished by Pat McQuaid of the UCI. With the comment that it’s just because Phinney is world champion that the USA have raised an objection. Also stating that Australia, GB, etc have not objected - so indicating that they are in agreement (?).
This raises two points. First one would hope that the UCI have an obligation to support and promote cycling at all levels. And Olympic level promotion is absolutely essential. Removing track events to make way for BMX in 2008 was a major failure in their responsibilities. Removing the 2012 events under the excuse of gender equality is a disaster. Secondly the national cycling federations are not fulfilling their obligations to their elite riders if they themselves do not support and promote elite competition. This is especially true for Team GB since it is Olympic success that determines future funding. Fewer events equals fewer possible medals - that equals less funding even if the 2008 success rate was repeated in 2012. In other words inaction, or ineffective actions, by British Cycling must lead to cutbacks in funding for the sport in Britain. Other nations with similar funding scheme will also suffer since there will be fewer medals to go around - if the Olympic programme is cut again.
Sadly the lack of effective action so far against the self-important stance of the UCI leadership shows not just a lack of democracy but spells the demise of the track careers of many of our new and established elite athletes. Clearly the UCI leadership have not learnt the lessons from their Pro Tour mis-handling. Luckily road cycling was too well supported to be lead down that particular path. Track cycling may not be big enough to avoid the disaster.
Winter 2009-2010 Programme
Dateline 8 Oct 2009
First the dates for the UK Revolution series (season 7) at Manchester -
14th November 2009
5th December 2009
16th January 2010
27th February 2010
At the Australian Revolution website things are still stuck in 2008 so no news from there. However the World Masters Championships will soon be on in Sydney (19-24th October) and there should be more Oz news when they are finished.
The 2009-10 World Cup series is at 4 venues this season - Manchester (30-Oct - 1-Nov), Melbourne (19 - 21-Nov), Cali (1- -12-Dec) and Beijing (22 - 24-Jan).
And then the World Championships are at Copenhagen on 24 - 28-Mar-2010.
Ghent hosts the European Championships next week (17 - 18-Oct) and Manchester has the GB championships just a few days later (20 - 24-Oct).
The Six-Day season starts with Amsterdam from 19-Oct, followed by Grenoble and Dortmund from 29-Oct then Milan from 10-Nov and the classic Ghent 6 from 24-Nov.
Winter 2009-2010 Programme
Dateline 28 Sep 2009
As the road season tails off after the World Championships it’s the turn of the track. In the next few days I will provide a list of the highlights of the season - watch this space.
2012 Olympic Programme
Dateline 28 Sep 2009
Even though are two track seasons to get through first the initial plans for the track events at London 2012 are being planned. And to me it looks like fans are being softened up for more bad news.
Before getting too depressed / angry / disappointed (your choice) it is worth having a quick look back at Olympic track cycling in earlier years.
In 1972 there were 5 events, all for men - Kilo, Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Sprint and Tandem Sprint (Swimming had 15 mens and 14 womens events).
By 1980 that had been reduced to just 4 - with the removal of the Tandem Sprint (Swimming had 26 split equally between men and women)
By 1988 the programme changed to - Kilo, Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Sprint and Points plus Womens Sprint (Swimming had 16 mens and 15 womens events)
In 1996 we had - Kilo, Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Olympic Sprint and Points plus Womens Pursuit, Olympic Sprint and Points (Swimming had 32 events split equally)
For 2004 the mens programme had become - Kilo, Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Sprint, Team Sprint, Points, Madison and Keirin. With the 500m, Pursuit, Sprint and Points for women. (Swimming again had 32 events split equally).
So the track cycling gold medals that were available at one Olympic Games grew from 4+0 in 1980 to 7+4 in 2004.
However the loss of the Kilo and 500m in 2008 could well have marked a turning point.
We heard this week that the list may be cut-back even more if (when!) the UCI / IOC “suggestion” of a 5+5 programme is adopted unchallenged. The loss of the Pursuit from the Olympics will be a real blow to the sport. A sport which the UCI is charged with promoting and supporting.
What exactly will be saved by reducing the men’s programme in this way is hard to fathom. The track will still need to be built, the officials will still need to attend. From a purely economic point of view - fewer events mean that the cost per event goes up and total ticket sales go down. Hardly the best way of making London 2012 pay its way.