British riders Alex Dowsett and Steve Cummings had aimed to place within the top 10 in the men’s time trial in Richmond, USA, on Wednesday in order to qualify for a second place in the Rio TT.
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They fell just outside the top 10 nations, with Cummings placing 14th behind winner Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus, and Dowsett coming home in 17th place.
The UCI’s Olympic qualification rules state that if a nation has already qualified by having a rider in the top 10, then the next unqualified nation will receive the place: this actually meant that the Czech Republic’s Jan Barta and America’s Taylor Phinney qualified a place by finishing 11th and 12th, as there were two riders from Italy and Poland in the top 10.
That meant that Cummings agonisingly missed out on handing GB a second Olympics qualification place by just two positions.
GB had already qualified for one place in the Rio TT by ending the 2015 season with a rider in the top 15 of the UCI’s WorldTour ranking: both Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are currently in the top 15, with one event left – Il Lombardia on October 4.
Although Thomas could get knocked down the ranking after the Il Lombardia WorldTour results are included, Tour de France winner Froome cannot now fall out of the top 15.
A total of 40 riders will take part in the men’s individual time trial at the 2016 Olympic Games, with a maximum of two riders per country. Riders taking part in the TT must be drawn from the total number of road riders qualified for that country: so the TT riders will also take part in the road race.
Only the top five nations in the 2015 WorldTour ranking receive the maximum five places for their Olympic road cycling teams in 2016. Great Britain is currently third behind Spain and Colombia, and should stay in the top five even if a rider from fourth-placed Italy or fifth-placed Belgium wins Il Lombardia.
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Sir Bradley Wiggins is the current Olympic champion in the men’s time trial, but has now switched his focus back to the team pursuit on the track and will not attempt to defend his TT title. Froome secured a bronze medal with his third place behind Wiggins in London.
It is currently unclear who will fill Britain’s TT slot at the 2016 Games, although Froome is likely to be the front runner with Dowsett and Cummings potentially on the shortlist. Could Froome emulate Wiggins’s performance in 2012, where he won the Tour de France and then went on to claim Olympic gold in the TT?