The national Madison championship has been moved in the hope it?ll give Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish a better chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

Qualification for the Madison event is likely to be extremely tight, with only 13 nations clinching a place in the competition.

So British Cycling has taken the opportunity to bring the national championship event forward so it happens before the deadline for Olympic qualification passes in late March. That way, the UCI ranking points on offer can go towards Olympic qualification.

It will be held as a stand-alone event at Manchester Velodrome on Sunday, March 2.

Paul West, of British Cycling, said: ?We have taken the decision to move the national Madison championship so that the UCI points on offer can contribute towards Olympic qualification.

?Obviously it is an opportunity we can?t let go. I am sure everyone wants to see a great result for Britain in Beijing and we have done what we can to help that.?

In the past few years the national Madison championship has been held separately from the national track championships but this is the first time it's been moved to suit a bigger objective such as the nation's Olympic aspirations.

British Cycling?s performance director Dave Brailsford was reluctant to see a potential 70 points (35 points for each winning rider) go begging with the race for an Olympic place so tight.

Wiggins and Cavendish have emerged as Britain's leading Madison pair but they are unable to ride either the Los Angeles or Copenhagen World Cup events because of their commitments with their High Road trade team.

The national championships offers a chance to score some points before the final counting event, the World Championships in late March.

With Britain?s best three riders in the UCI's Madison ranking counting towards Olympic qualification it was vital Wiggins and Cavendish had an opportunity to score points at the national championship.

The move is likely to spark some protests of opposition from those who feel the championships have become a tool for the World Class Performance riders.

However, looking at the bigger picture, Brailsford felt it would be better to move the Madison championship than hold it in its traditional summer or autumn slot and see Great Britain miss out on the Olympics.

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1. The winners of the World Championships in Manchester in March will automatically qualify

2. The winners of the overall World Cup ranking will automatically qualify

3. The top 13 nations in the national UCI ranking for the Madison event at the end of March will qualify. If either the world champions or World Cup winners are among the top 13, the 14th and 15th teams will earn an Olympic place

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The national ranking is based on the aggregate score of each country?s best three riders in the Madison world rankings

Points are scored in all elite level Madison events

Our best-placed riders are ? Cavendish and Wiggins, in joint 24th place on 142 points each and Adam Blyth and Peter Kennaugh in 80th place on 50 points

Great Britain is currently 14th in the ranking ? two points behind Canada but with some dangerous nations, such as Ukraine and Australia, lurking behind them

Two British Madison teams (Rob Hayles & Peter Kennaugh and Jonny Bellis & Ben Swift) have been sent to the Los Angeles World Cup in a bid to score points to bolster the national ranking but the bulk of the responsibility still lies with Wiggins and Cavendish. Their last chance will be at the World Championships

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Time is running out for Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins to earn enough points to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Deciding to hold the national championships in early March has given them a great opportunity.

Cavendish and Wiggins won a silver medal at the Beijing World Cup but need more to make sure. ?The nationals are suddenly a really important event for us,? said Cavendish.

?It?s between the Tour of California and Paris-Nice so hopefully I should have some good form. At the end of the day it?s the national championship so I will be up for it.

?Then Brad and I will try to win the World Championships to make sure we qualify for the Olympics ? then it?s all about the Olympics itself. Who knows, maybe we can go for the full set.?

Cavendish said he would also ride the Omnium event at the World Championships.

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It?s been a few years since the national Madison race had a settled home.

The 2007 title race was scheduled to be held at Meadowbank in August but was washed out and eventually switched to Scunthorpe, where it was the title race in an Omnium series. Adam Blythe (SIS) and Luke Rowe ( won the title.

In 2006 the Madison was held at Newport in October, and was won by Tony Gibb and James Taylor. Before that, the Manor Abbey Stadium in Halesowen was the regular home of the Madison.

But this year?s title race will be held as a stand-alone race indoors at Manchester on March 2, starting at 11am. The event will be promoted by Face Partnership ? the company behind the Revolution series ? and entry will be free.

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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.