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Romero and Wiggins lose out in Olympic cycling shake-up

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Romero slams 'ludicrous' changes

Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins will not be able to defend their titles at the 2012 Games in London following changes to the Olympic track programme.

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

The individual pursuit, won by Wiggins and Romero in Beijing in 2008, has been dropped in favour of sprint events.

The move has angered Romero, who is now planning to switch to road events.

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

Wiggins agrees with shake-up

"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.

"Out of 10 medals that will now be available, six could potentially just be distributed among two riders.

"It's a great opportunity for Victoria Pendleton - it was really unfair that Chris Hoy has the opportunity (to win three gold medals) and she only had one in Beijing, and I think it's great that she's been fighting towards that.

"But it's a shame it'll affect so many other riders, and the consequences it'll have for so many other athletes around the world who've been training for years towards their dreams."

There were seven male and three female track events at previous Olympics before the plan for gender-parity was drawn up.

The new schedule focuses on sprints, keirins, team sprints, team pursuits and omniums for both sexes.

The omnium is a multi-discipline event made up of five separate races - a 200m flying start time trial, a 5km scratch race, a 3km individual pursuit, a 15km points race and a 1km time trial.

Wiggins won the pursuit in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 and was seeking a third successive title in his hometown in 2012.

The 29-year-old Londoner said: "It's disappointing, but it's not something I can control or have an effect on.

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"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."

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the committee was just following the recommendations of the International Cycling Union, cycling's world governing body.

"Of course, the concerned riders regret that. This is perfectly understandable but the executive board of UCI considered the new format would be far more appealing," Rogge insisted.

"There is a general shift from endurance events more to sprint events, that is a consideration being made by the experts of cycling, not the IOC."

UCI president Pat McQuaid said his organisation was acting for the wider good of track cycling.

"I've seen a lot of petitions and protests to save certain events, but they were all made from people or countries who are only thinking about the event they are good at," he said.

"The UCI has got to look at the big picture and at the future of global cycling.

"We had to create gender equality and we tried to get more events but the IOC refused, so we had to make some hard decisions and change the track cycling programme."

To appease the anger over the changes, McQuaid said that the five events that currently make up the omnium will be reviewed so that it is more weighted to endurance athletes.

"Track cycling has always been weighted towards the sprinters but we will study changes to the omnium so that it becomes more of a endurance event," he said.

"That way there will be three events for sprinters and two for endurance riders."

Following the announcement, Pendleton issued a statement in which she expressed her sympathy with Romero and Wiggins but insisted the changes represented important progress for women's cycling.

Decision has come too late - Pendleton

"Obviously it's very disappointing that some events have been dropped from the schedule within these changes and I was as surprised as anyone that the UCI actually made such radical proposals," she said.

"I really feel for my team-mates who will miss out as a result, but it is a very positive step for female track cycling everywhere in the world.

"The fact this progress has been made for the London Games is a great advert for equality in Britain."

Romero was expected to make her return to track racing after a year out at the British Championships in October, but her failure to take part was a clear indication that she is already focusing her attentions on a future in road racing.

She says the challenge of making herself an Olympic-standard road racer is "unknown," but she has proved herself to be very adaptable in the past.

She won a rowing silver in the quadruple sculls at the 2004 Athens games before switching to cycling, becoming national road racing champion in 2006.



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see also
Mixed doubles in Olympic line-up
10 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Team Sky announce Wiggins capture
10 Dec 09 |  Cycling
Romero conspicuous by her absence
21 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Baxter pleased with cycling debut
07 Dec 09 |  Cycling
GB cyclists shocked by 2012 plan
28 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Medal glee for Thomas and James
23 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Thomas is tipped for road success
14 Sep 09 |  Cycling
James tracking down 2012 place
10 Sep 09 |  Cycling
James wins double gold in Moscow
16 Aug 09 |  Cycling
Romero beats GB team-mate to gold
17 Aug 08 |  Cycling


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