Individual pursuit cut from Olympic track cycling programme

By AFP | Friday, December 11, 2009 10.00am

British cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero will not be able to defend their titles at the 2012 Games in London after changes to the Olympic track programme were announced on Thursday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the changes proposed by cycling's world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), in a bid to increase gender parity at the Games.

As a result the individual pursuit, won by Wiggins and Romero in Beijing in 2008, has been dropped in favour of sprint events.

But fellow Briton Victoria Pendleton could now go for three golds after the number of women's events was increased to five, the same as for the men.

"There didn't need to be such a massive overhaul," Romero told Radio 5 Live. "This is a massive overhaul of the Olympic track programme which will have massive consequences for the sport.

But Wiggins believes the shake-up will be good for women's cycling.

"It's disappointing, but it's not something I can control or have an effect on," said the 29-year-old, who won the pursuit in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 and was seeking a third successive title in his hometown in 2012.

"It would have been nice to have been back there and going for number three in the individual.

"The team pursuit's still there, which is high on the agenda, and I will certainly be at the Olympics going for gold in one event."

He added: "There will be more medal opportunities for female riders so it's creating equality in that sense, but it's creating inequality between sprint and endurance riders."

The new schedule focuses on sprints, keirins, team sprints, team pursuits and omniums - a multi-discipline event made up of five separate races.

© AFP 2009

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