The Union Cycliste International (UCI) will ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to increase the number of Olympic medals in track competition ahead of the 2016 Rio Games.
UCI President Pat McQuaid said: “Currently you have three sprint disciplines and two endurance disciplines. The UCI would like to put in another endurance discipline and give us three and three.”
Speaking at the conclusion of the track racing in London, McQuaid said he hoped this would make Olympic track racing more appealing to professional road riders, citing Mark Cavendish’s recent statement that he would like to compete in the team pursuit in Rio.
“I would like to think that [the track program] could change.” McQuaid said. “I will certainly sit down with the international Olympic committee and discuss the possibilities.”
“The IOC have in recent years been very rigid in relation to the number of athletes, the number of disciplines and the number of sports. And they haven’t been too generous in allowing any sports [to have] new events.”
Cycling currently has 18 Olympic medals on it’s schedule, ten on the track, four on the road, two in mountain bike and two in BMX.
The Olympic cycling schedule has constantly changed over the years, most recently with the track disciplines. To bring in BMX for the 2008 Games the UCI had to drop two track events, and chose to take the kilometre and 500m time trials (for men and women respectively) out.
For London 2012 the events were changed again. The UCI rightly brought equality across the events for men and women, bringing in women’s team pursuit, team sprint and keirin, and the omnium for both men and women. To achieve this within the rigid IOC athlete and medal quotas they had to drop the points race, madison, and individual pursuit.
It was the loss of the individual pursuit that caused the biggest uproar. It has always been track cycling’s blue riband event, equivalent to the 800m in athletics. The list of winners dates back to 1964, it was simple to understand and has an illustrious list of past winners. McQuaid wouldn’t however be drawn on which event would be chosen should they be successful in gaining an extra track event.
Some of the teams in London had been talking about the kilometre time trial, last won by Chris Hoy in Athens 2004, making a return for Rio.
McQuaid also said that he believed the inclusion of the six event omnium was a success in London. “I think it worked well as an event, it added to the program. Without it we would have had a program over three days. LOCOG wanted more days, if we could have given LOCOG ten days on the program they would have taken it.”
“The response from the athletes was good and even tonight there was drama in the final event, it gave good excitement to everyone. We will look at [the omnium] from a technical point of view [to see if] we would change any aspects of it or the points system or whatever.”
He went on to confirm the track commission would look at all aspects of the track program, including the rules on the team sprint which hit the headlines on the opening night when the British and Chinese teams were relegated for initiating their change before the designated area. “Our sport always has been one that evolves, rules change and rules are improved on the basis of experience,” he said.