Olympic chiefs, meeting in Lausanne, have confirmed the track cycling programme for the 2012 Games in London – and as expected the individual pursuit has been axed.
The IOC have ensured equality between men and women competitors in cycling. There will be five events on the track for men, and five for women.
The changes mean the women’s team sprint and Keirin have been added to the programme, offering Britain’s Victoria Pendleton a chance to aim for three gold medals. In Beijing she had just one sprint event available to women, whereas Sir Chris Hoy could go for the treble.
But equality has been achieved at a cost.
Bradley Wiggins confirmed his transfer to Team Sky today, but also learned that he will not be able to complete a hat-trick of gold medals in the 4,000-metre individual pursuit after winning at Athens in 2004 and Beijing last year.
Rebecca Romero, the reigning Olympic women’s 3,000-metre individual pursuit champion, has also lost her event and although the team pursuit for women has been added, she has hinted that her future may lie with the time trial on the road.
The men’s Madison has also been scrapped, partly because there is not a women’s equivalent at World Championship level. The men’s and women’s points races have also been scrapped.
In comes the omnium, an event which rewards consistency over five different disciplines – a 3,000-metre pursuit (2,000m for women), a points race, a scratch race, a flying 200-metre sprint and a kilometre time trial (500m for women).
In a statement the IOC said: “The changes reflect the IOC’s desire to continually refresh the programme, as well as its commitment to increase women’s participation.”
The loss of the individual pursuit for men, which has been part of the Olympics since 1964, has been roundly criticised by riders and commentators around the world, but the pleas to keep an iconic and engaging event have fallen on deaf ears.
LONDON 2012 TRACK CYCLING PROGRAMME