London’s Track Debut
Back to the track news as this week sees the first use in anger of London’s new Olympic Velodrome. And with the tickets all sold, it is great that the racing will be on free-to-air terrestrial TV. It should be a good show since this is the first real chance to try out all aspects of the venue. Plus, of course, the World’s are getting close and there must be riders who still need to qualify for their national Olympic teams.
2011-2 Championships - Take 4
The 2nd European Elite Track Championships are now confirmed by the UEC as being at ..... Apeldoorn, Netherlands 21-23 October rather than Palma or Lithuania or Poland .... However the UEC’s own track calendar is still miles out in its content and, yes, you have guessed correctly - it does not even include this key championship.
PS - One of the three Dutch events that this sketchy UEC calendar does, however, include is the Amsterdam Six on the overlapping dates of 17-22 October. So hardly the best fixture planning and having left it so late they should have been flexible enough to work around the existing races.
Returning to the present, after weeks working on the history of the British Six Day races, it was time to check again on the season’s calendar. And it was not unreasonable to expect that the 2011 European Track Calendar released at the beginning of June would provide everything needed. But if you download the pdf you will find a strangely distorted schedule of events. It is arranged by country and starts out with an extensive list of races in Italy at regional, UEC and UCI levels. Page two is a similar list but for Switzerland. Then it rather looses its way - with just UCI level events for the rest of Europe. This means that the only track event listed for Belgium is the Ghent Six Day while France only has one track meeting and the Grenoble Six. Britain has no track racing at all - according to the UEC calendar. And that’s even though Manchester is hosting the UCI Masters Track World Championships in October.
Now this may be because the UEC has not received anything from the national federations - but they must carry the responsibility for still issuing this as an official calendar. One that does to reflect the true situation and downgrades the sport’s actual popularity. Now I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory that this is a deliberate downgrading of track racing - but I do have to question of competency of the administration. This is especially true when you read that Spain also has no track events listed - but is supposed to be hosting the UEC’s own European Championships!
Conclusions; use the national federations to get your track calendars and ask each of the federations to ensure that the UEC know what is actually scheduled in each country (and then for the European Union to do something about it!).
2011-2 Championships - Take 3
Not able to get this confirmed yet by the UEC, but it seems that the 2nd European Elite Track Championships have now gone to ... the Palma Velodrome [wikipedia]. The only problem is that the track needs to be rebuilt first - even though it is only four years old - having being first used for the 2007 Worlds. I know it’s hard to believe but the Spanish builders seem to have messed up the construction the first time around. And that’s a separate issue to the alleged missing millions “spent” on its construction. So it’s sunny Spain on 21 October 2011 [or perhaps we are now back to the original 4 November date?]; providing the rebuilding work gets done correctly - and on time. Now when has that ever been a problem in Spain? Also it’s the UCI that have taken the lead on this - even though it is a UEC championship.
Meanwhile the UCI have confirmed that the World Cup series of four rounds will start on 4-Nov-2011 in Kazakhstan (so let’s hope the UEC have spotted this), followed by Colombia, China and England - at London’s Olympic Park on 17-Feb-2012.
2011-2 Championships - Take 2
Well things have moved on a little - now the UCI say that Pruszków will host the 2nd European Elite Track Championships in November 2011 - but they don’t have a link to any organiser’s website. And the UEC website still has a blank entry. So Poland could be the venue come November ... possibly. Update: 8-Apr-2011 - The UCI website has now come in line with the UEC and both have the 2nd Euro Champs as 21 to 23-Oct-2011 with the venue undecided! At least we know it won’t be Amsterdam track - the 6-Day is on then. Update: 25-May-2011 - No change; Euro champs venue still undecided at the UEC.
The World Championships at Apeldoorn finished last week. I expected that one of the cycling news websites would have covered every detail. But when I attempted to find the final medal table I drew a blank. However some kind soul has now put the results on Wikipedia here... These showed that GB finished in 4th place behind Australia, France and Belarus.
In his BBC interview Dave Brailsford said he was satisfied with the team’s results at Apeldoorn but surprisingly cast doubt over sending the GB Olympic squad all the way to Melbourne for the next Worlds - scheduled for April 2012. This, together with the suggestion that the top GB riders need a bigger stage than the Worlds for peak performances, seems to be some sort of mind-game with the Australians. Since the Australians have to travel all the way to Europe for almost everything, it would be a snub not to attend, or even send a reserve squad, when the Worlds are in Melbourne. Not attending the Commonwealth Games was one PR mistake so let’s hope the 2012 Worlds is not another. Such mistakes are often used as ammunition if / when expectations are not fulfilled.
Well the 2011 Track Championship are almost over and we are then in the 2012 season. Due to this winter-centric approach we will be in the 2013 season many months before the 2012 Olympics.... but still the racing goes on or does it?
The next big event is the second running of the European Elite Track Championships. Now I thought that these were booked for Panevezys in Lithuania. However both the UEC and the UCI are listing them as being on 4 to 6 November ... with the venue still undecided.
I know there is seven months to go - but all the other UEC event venues for 2011 are confirmed. Considering how important the Europeans were rated for gaining Olympic qualification points. And how many GB elite riders opted to miss the Commonwealth Games in order to compete in them (see below). It would more than a touch ironic if the UEC failed to find avenue for this year’s championships - the last before London.
Not wanting to be too pessimistic but ... even though some UEC championships for 2013 are already booked there is no mention of one for the elite track events on the UEC web site. However a media group in Lithuania put a press release that said “In the year 2012, the Third European Track Championship will occur on Panevėžys "Cido" Arena. It was confirmed by the European Cycling Union (UEC) ... [It] will take place in Lithuania after the Olympic Games in London - in the end of October or in November”. My guess is that the track in Panevezys is not going to be ready this year or there no available cash. But why the UEC has not taken the lead in confirming this is hard to know. The media group’s press release was dated 23-Nov-2010!
If you know the real story - get in touch. At least we can rely on Melbourne to be an efficient (and competitive) host for the next World Championships in April 2012.
The track golds tally finished as Australia 12 - Rest of the Commonwealth 2 - where the “rest” was New Zealand and Malaysia! It certainly seemed a one-sided contest at times; with the biggest gap being the lack of English opposition. Not simply because the big names were missing but also because events like the team pursuit had no English entry. Considering that the Commonwealth Games get more UK media coverage than any cycling-specific events - such as the European or World championships - it was a bad PR move to treat them so poorly.
I saw somewhere a quote from Chris Newton that GB will back winning on the track again in London in two years time. But I do get the feeling that all eyes are on the road - and the track stars of 2008 have either retired or moved before replacements have emerged. Big reductions in funding - through a combination of fewer events, poor results and state-funding cut-backs - could see British Cycling in financial trouble by 2013 or before.
2011 World Championships
The next championships are scheduled for 23-27 March at Apeldoorn, Netherlands. And since Melbourne is the planned venue for 2012 this is the only “local” one before the London Olympics. Hopefully GB fields a strong, large team this time - even if they don’t win - after the poor show at Delhi.
Between now and then there is, of course, the “new” European Championships. An elite event for the first time (and only in existence since 2001 for U-23s and juniors) it apparently already carries more weight than the Commonwealth Games. Not knowing the politics behind this sudden shift in role and importance leaves me concerned. Concerned not just because it looks like a change imposed from the top but also because it comes after a long series of poor decisions that have had a detrimental effect on track cycling at the top level. It is almost as if the UCI, UEC and, indirectly, the Olympic Committee would like to see track cycling killed off. Why is beyond me - but at least I am not the only one with serious concerns. Plenty of riders and commentators are expressing similar views.
But back to the racing. Can we expect Team GB to shine at the Europeans instead of Delhi? I’m not prepared to bet on it - but at least there is a better chance!
Revolution Reaches Season 8
The Revolution Series at Manchester again provides the winter track excitement for those of us who cannot make it the Six-Days or the major championships. The first event this year is just a few weeks away (23-Oct) and more details are now online.