The Union Cycliste International (UCI) will apply for three new events to be included in the cycling program at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
At a meeting at Louisville, USA the UCI’s management committee supported a proposal for the addition of a points race (track), eliminator race (mtb) and BMX freestyle.
“It’s quite a bold ambition for three new events, but the IOC were delighted with the success of the cycling in London.” Said Brian Cookson, British Cycling President and head of the UCI’s road commission. “I think there’s a good balance of traditional events and ones that broaden the scope”.
The cycling program changed drastically after the Beijing Games in 2008 when gender equality was brought in for the track program. The omnium was also introduced at the expense of the individual pursuit and the points race and Madison.
Now it looks like the points race could make a return. “We think it would make more nations feel like they’ve got a chance [of competing]. The individual pursuit is just too specialist, you could probably predict the finalists now.” Cookson said.
“There would be no more riders but one more medal for both men and women, it would also even up the events between endurance and sprint.”
The points race is currently part of the six-event omnium program and the proposal to re-introduce it does not affect the omnium or any other current events. Crucially the UCI is not asking to increase its athlete quota; it is widely accepted that this will not be increased as the overall limits on athlete numbers are so strict.
The mountain bike elimination race would pull its competitors in from the cross country pool. There is currently no world title in the event, although it does feature in World Cups. BMX Freestyle may prove more problematic.
The discipline would need new competitors (BMX Super Cross competitors do not generally do freestyle) and a whole structure built around it. In fact, it may need inventing. There is currently no such thing as BMX freestyle. The UCI is probably referring to ‘Street’ events where riders get around two minutes to ride in an area and complete tricks on quarter-pipes, table-tops, half-pipes and rails. They are marked by judges on the diffuculty of their tricks.
It’s a discipline made popular by the X-Games, the event that has stolen a march on the Olympic movement in so called extreme sports. The Winter Olympics has brought in snowboarding and ski-cross to great acclaim, and it’s thought the IOC want to introduce some similar events to the summer Games to attract younger fans.
Whether or not cycling does get to increase it’s medal count will be confirmed at the end of 2013 once the IOC has reviewed all the sports’ proposals. Cookson was confident that the recent scandals and fallout with WADA hasn’t harmed cycling’s credintials, saying. “There’s no serious threat to the sport’s Olympic status as Dick Pound suggested.”