Cycling wants changes for '12 Games

Updated: November 18, 2009, 4:43 PM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Cycling's governing body confirmed Wednesday it will deliver proposals to the IOC for a track race program at the 2012 London Olympics that offers equal gold medal opportunities for men and women and would likely deny American phenom Taylor Phinney a chance to compete in his specialty event.

The Dec. 3 meeting with the International Cycling Union will work toward an International Olympic Committee target of gender equality at the games, IOC sports director Christophe Dubi said.

Last year's Beijing Games had seven track events for men and three for women -- a bias the UCI acknowledged is "out of line" with other Olympic sports.

"I think the UCI is doing great work, because they know it's good for them to look at this aspect," Dubi told The Associated Press.

Cycling's governing body will risk upsetting riders and national teams by cutting traditional races to create the balanced schedule. Phinney is among those already speaking out -- he's the reigning world champion in the individual pursuit, one of five endurance races targeted for elimination.

In a recent interview with the AP, Phinney said losing pursuit "would be devastating." He has launched a campaign on Twitter to try and save his event.

Bradley Wiggins of Britain, a two-time individual pursuit gold medalist, has said that dropping his favored event to focus on sprint races could kill off endurance cycling.

The UCI is reportedly considering a program of the same five gold medal events for men and women: individual sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit and the five-race omnium event.

Under that plan, five endurance races -- in men's and women's individual pursuit and points races, plus the men's madison -- would be dropped.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said Wednesday the program changes were not finalized but described track cycling's current medal bias for men as "way out of line."

"It's a stated objective of the IOC to have gender balance. It's a strong principle," McQuaid said.

Dubi said the IOC understood events such as the individual pursuit were part of cycling's "heart and soul." He will lead talks with the UCI before putting a firm proposal to the IOC's executive board, which meets Dec. 9-10 in Lausanne.

"Normally when we go to the executive we will have all elements in place for a final decision," Dubi said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press