With the IOC lifting its 28-sport cap, UCI president Brian Cookson is keen to explore ways to safeguard track cycling's future

UCI president Brian Cookson has already started thinking of ways to make cycling more attractive following the International Olympic Committee’s vote in favour of scrapping the Games’ 28-sport cap.

From the 2020 Games in Tokyo there will be a cap on the number of athletes, at 10,500, and events, at 310, rather than limiting the number of sports.

With the reforms designed to reduce the cost of staging the Olympics and increase interest in the events on offer, there is a worry that track cycling could be one of the events to feel the brunt of cuts in future Olympiads.

It seems likely that Tokyo will look to add baseball and softball to its 2020 programme due to the popularity of the sports in the country, but in order for host cities to make such decision events in other sports will have to be reduced.

One of the recommendations put forward to the IOC was to foster gender equality by including mixed-gender team events and Cookson told Reuters that cycling would have to consider such changes.

“Men and women competing together, there is no history of that, maybe a team relay,” he said.

“We’d need to do some test events and to consult with the national federations, what would work and not work.

“Mixing men and women at the same event in the same time… If that is something the IOC feels would make cycling look attractive we need to look into that.”

Velodromes are seen to be one of the more prohibitive buildings to construct specifically for an Olympic Games, due to the cost per event ratio and the legacy of the building in countries where the track cycling scene is not strong.

At £94m, the London 2012 track effectively cost £9.4m for each of the ten events held under the curved roof but has since held World Cup and Revolution Series events, as well as being open to the public.

With British Cycling’s track team benefitting from millions of pounds of UK Sport funding, largely due to the sport’s Olympic status, there could be cause for concern as to the security of such backing if a host nation decides to reduce its track programme.

Equally, the UCI benefit from funding from the IOC thanks to cycling’s presence at the Games, so making cycling more accessible and entertaining is the first step for the UCI continuing to receive such support.

  • Geoff Waters

    An interesting idea. Ultimately, one has to look to the UCI to come up with an equitable solution to the issue of globalising track cycle sport. By this I mean one which looks beyond the interests of the current status quo of a few affluent nations with indoor velodromes and generous funding of a small elite of track cyclists. Will introducing gender-mixed track events do so? UCI President Cookson needs to explain further how this will achieve this goal … or if the globalisation of track cycling is indeed a UCI goal at all.

  • How about using motorsport tracks? They are fast and wide enough for track cycling.

  • I’d do mixed relay races, like 4 x 1,000 (track) and 4 x 2,500 (road).

  • Geoff Waters

    The modern transformation of track cycling into an indoor short velodrome sport at international elite level guarantees that it remains the preserve of a few affluent nations. Maybe the first step to globalising it – which is presumably the UCI’s mission – would be going back to basics: simple outdoor tracks, bunch events, handicap races … At present the way track cycling is organised around no-contact timed events (pursuit; team sprint) has little public appeal. Internationally, track cycling is dying and costly indoor velodromes (to both build and maintain) make no sense. Here in South Africa, mountain biking is booming and road cycling doing well ( see Froome; Qubeka). We also have ostriches – isn’t it time the UCI stopped burying its head in the sand about track cycling?

  • racyrich

    4-up team sprint, 2 of each. Any order allowed (though I can’t imagine it working well other than the 2 women going first, then the men).

  • hondo77

    Co-ed Madison.