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September 15/09 12:00 pm - More Changes Coming for Cycling at the Olympics?


Posted by Editoress on 09/15/09
 

It appears that cycling is about to gain - and lose - more events at the Olympic level.  In Beijing, BMX was added, but Track lost two events (men's 1000 metre time trial and women's 500 metre time trial).  The IOC was apparently very pleased with the reception BMX received - both the television coverage and the age group it attracted.

So, it is looking like BMX Freestyle is close to a 'done deal' for 2012 in London, England.  This will almost certainly mean the loss of two more track events, since the IOC has remained firm in its stated commitment to cap the number of events.  The events that will have to go?  No one is saying, but they will have to be on the men's side, since the women currently have only three and the men seven.  The most likely ones to get hit, we think, are the Madison and the Team Pursuit.

Our impression is that the UCI isn't necessarily that keen on taking on Freestyle (or on losing more track events), but the IOC pretty much calls the shots here, and the almighty gods known as television ratings and demographics are what they worship.

One of the problems that the UCI will face in bringing Freestyle up to speed is that, for the first time, cycling will include a judged activity, rather than one based on time (leaving aside the exotic Indoor Cycling sport that pretty much does its own thing).  One source stated:  "Right now there is no formal, standardized process of judging in place, so all of that would have to be developed."

Another rumour that refuses to die is Cyclo-cross at the Winter Games.  Earlier in the year, a group was putting it about that 'Cross would be a demonstration sport in Vancouver.  We will repeat again:  there is no truth to it, according to all reliable sources, both on and off the record.

The IOC requires that Winter Games sports involve snow and ice and, while that may be part of the conditions at some 'Cross races, it is not a requirement.  The other thing holding 'Cross back, is that the IOC wants sports that are a 'world' sport, and 'Cross is pretty much restricted to parts of Europe, with some growth in North America.

However ... it could change, we are told.  Currently, there is one other Summer sport with a fall/winter discipline (like 'Cross) that is applying to get into the Winter Games.  If they are successful, then Cyclo-cross would become a strong contender.  It is a perfect Games sport for television - easy to understand and televise, doesn't require fancy or expensive facilities, and only one hour long.

Cowbells in the snow ... we wait with bated breath.

 


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