A rule exploited by France in the 2012 Olympic Games could give Mark Cavendish an extra route into the British track team

The UCI has retained a loophole that allows riders to compete in track cycling events at the Olympics despite entering the road race.

In 2012 Mickael Bourgain of France completed just one mile of the Olympic road race in London but this allowed him to also ride on the track and reach the Keirin finals in the velodrome.

The UCI attempted to close the loophole by enforcing a minimum limit of 10 UCI points for competitors, however this had to be revised as it would exclude too many cyclists from lesser cycling nations.

According to the UCI’s qualifying document: “Any athlete who has qualified and who has been entered by their NOC (National Olympic Committee) in one of the cycling disciplines (BMX, mountain bike or track cycling) will have the right to be entered in road cycling, provided that the NOC has obtained a quota place in the said event, that the limits for participation per NOC and per event are not exceeded, and that the athlete eligibility requirements have been met.”

Great Britain currently has five places on its road race team so in theory, Mark Cavendish could use it as a platform to compete on the track. The Manxman could only finish sixth at the World Championships Omnium last weekend, placing his Rio 2016 a selection in doubt.

However, the undulating course offers a real opportunity for Chris Froome to take a gold medal so the team is likely to be filled with riders who are capable of supporting him on the climbs.

Another option would have been for Cavendish to enter the cross-country mountain bike race (in which Great Britain potentially has one place but no real contenders for medals) as Robert Forstemann did in 2012. However, in this instance the loophole was closed and the 10 UCI point limit imposed.

  • Dave2020

    I’d prefer to see a different, more sensible (imo) solution. . .

    If the IOC are really serious about keeping a modern Olympiad relevant, without the whole thing getting too unwieldy and expensive, they need only return to the original motto – Citius – Altius – Fortius.

    Guns, bows and arrows, fencing, rhythmic/artistic events with medals decided by judges, and a multitude of minority ball games, hardly fit in with a strict definition of faster, higher or stronger.

  • Dave

    The number of cycling competitors was never reduced, only reallocated when BMX was introduced.

    I would say the fault is almost entirely the UCI’s fault. They should have pushed the IOC a bit harder to get an increase in the total cycling quota when BMX was introduced, being one of the ‘youth’ events the IOC was keen to get on board to keep the Olympics relevant.

  • Dave

    He had no problems last year winning the TDU and then comfortably beating the Hour Record a couple of weeks later.

    If all goes well it probably won’t happen, because Australia’s first pick Omnium rider Glenn O’Shea is quite a good team pursuit rider with two rainbow jerseys in his cupboard. However, if O’Shea can’t race for whatever reason then Dennis for team pursuit qualifying (he also has two team pursuit rainbow jerseys) and Cameron Meyer in the Omnium would be the way to go.

  • Dave

    The only IOC-imposed condition was that when BMX was added in 2008, the total number of athletes across all cycling disciplines was to stay exactly the same as it was before. This same rule applies to every other sport when they change their events.

    The limit of one rider per nation in the sprint and keirin for 2012 was a UCI limit, not an IOC limit. As we’ve seen with their adjustment for 2016, the UCI have changed that to two for the top nine nations and added an additional round of heats to each competition.

    The limit of one rider per nation in the omnium is a UCI limit, not an IOC limit, and is the same as applies in the World Championships. UCI rules for an omnium state a pair of scratch races with half the field in each is used as the qualification round when there are more riders entered than the track maximum.

    The solution, in my opinion, is to reduce the size of the road race teams so those events look more like national championship road races where there aren’t huge teams. The slots freed up can be swapped to track cycling, allowing for the increased track quotas to support men’s and women’s points races and madisons.
    The IOC has indicated they would be happy to accept additional events so long as the total number of athletes remains the same.

  • Dave

    There’s the benefit in selecting Dibben or Clancy for the omnium and telling Cav he hasn’t made the team.

    Both would be credible omnium selections (one is the newly crowned points race champion, the other the previous Olympic bronze medallist in the omnium) and also far better options for the team pursuit than Cav. There would also be no need to use up one of the road race spots for the fifth pursuit rider.

    This is how Australia will go, using Glenn O’Shea for team pursuit qualifying and the omnium.

  • J1

    Cav doing some XC MTB would’ve been interesting!

    I’m still angry the Madison isn’t an Olympic event anymore.

  • Dave2020

    The IOC should never have been allowed to limit entries to one rider per event. The UCI should have refused to accept conditions that don’t apply to other sports. All it takes is a qualification round at the Olympics – how hard can it be?

    Use the individual pursuit (4k for all) to determine the twenty who’ll contest the rest of the omnium, then any nation can send the riders they choose and the final selection is on merit.

  • Edvid

    Dennis will be fully focused on the hilly ITT, no? Australia (and GB, for that matter) will need their best 5 team pursuiters to win that event.

  • Edvid

    The issue isn’t how many UCI points Cav has, but that each NOC is limited to 5 track endurance riders – hence the talk of their omnium rider having to be a fifth man in the TP.

    The loophole refers to selecting a rider from their road/BMX/MTB team – it means an additional rider can compete on the track (unless the minimum 10-point rule applies) since the overall quota is not breached.

  • Dave2020

    Yes, I understand that, but the UCI didn’t manage the situation. It was an unqualified mess prior to 2012, and it has only improved marginally since, as ‘Dave’ points out.

  • John Westwell

    I think it’s the IOC that you should be aiming your guns at – it was that organisation which dramatically reduced the numbers of cycling competitors (and events) at the Olympics. The UCI is just trying to manage the situation as best it can.

  • Dave

    The qualification rules have been updated since last time around.

    Nations which qualify for the Team Sprint (9) can now enter two riders into each of the sprint and keirin (i.e. 18 total in each). The 9 highest ranked riders in each event from nations not qualifying for the team sprint also get entries for a maximum of 27 total in each.

    The omnium rider does not need to be part of the Team Pursuit squad, but they can be if the team wants to select them. If the omnium rider is a real contender then the additional rider for the team pursuit qualifying round could come from the road team, which would be a real option for Australia with having Rohan Dennis in for the individual time trial.

    There is a total team size cap of 8 (men) and 7 (women, due to the shorter team sprint) which is enough for the team pursuit, the team sprint and a rider dedicated to the omnium. One additional rider can come in from another cycling discipline on top of those 8/7.

    I agree on the team sprint being equalised for both sexes and the same should go for the scratch, IP, TT and points race in the women’s omnium. Unless Rio will have ⅔ size medals for the women, of course.

  • Dave

    No loophole will be needed for Cav, GB has placed well enough in the Omnium rankings to earn a spot and he has earned enough points to be eligible to fill that spot.

    Is Cav really the best entrant though? What about Chris Latham, Jonathan Dibben or Ed Clancy?

    GB might be best off to leave the omnium this time and go all in on the team pursuit, by picking their ‘omnium rider’ mainly for their role as the additional member of the pursuit team.

  • Edvid

    It would also be a waste of a road berth as all 5 slots can be filled by riders that actually want to do the RR, in which Geraint or Adam could win a medal if they’re in form.

  • Dave2020

    The incompetence of the UCI rules was evident before London 2012.

    The greatest injustice in the post-Beijing changes was limiting teams to one entrant. How can that ever be justified? It’s a travesty of international sport. If two of the best riders in the world happen to belong to one nation that’s no reason to deny one of them the right to compete.

    Nobody points to an Olympic podium in any other sport and says – “It’s not fair that one nation can win two or three medals.”!!! Think of a distance field with one Kenyan, or sprint qualifying rounds with only one Jamaican. It’s ludicrous.

    Stipulating that an Omnium rider has to be part of the pursuit team is equally ridiculous.

    It’s high time the women’s team sprint was brought into line with the men’s – 3 laps.

  • Billy

    Why are we so desperate to find “loopholes” for Cav? He came 6th and was not in the same class as the top 4. A medal seems highly unlikely. Team GB have better options than giving Cav a present.