X-Games disciplines could be added to cycling programme for Rio 2016 after UCI proposal

Sunday, 03 February 2013
By Tom Degun

cyclingFebruary 3 - More cycling events, including new extreme disciplines that already appear in the X-Games, could be added to the programme for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro following a proposal from the world governing body. 

Among the six new events proposed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) following its Management Committee meeting in Louisville are BMX freestyle, which is a form of stunt riding.

Freestyling can trace its history back to 1975 when teenagers started riding bikes in concrete Escondido reservoir channels in California.

It is a now a popular sport in Europe and the United States and already appears in the X-Games, where its profile has increased due to its relative ease and availability of places to ride and do tricks.

Hopes that it would be included at London 2012 proved unfounded but the UCI will hope to be more successful on this attempt. 

BMX FreestyleThe UCI are lining up BMX freestyle for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The mountain bike eliminator, in which four riders compete against each other in each heat, only made its debut in 2010 at the German XC Bundesliga before being tested at two UCI events in Dalby Forest in and Nove Mesto na Morave in Czech Republic the following year.

The format differs from the classic cross-country race both in its sprint character and the separation of the race into heats, combing the intensity of head-to-head battles with an all-terrain nature of climbing and descending, its supporters claim.

It was officially integrated into the World Cup in 2012 with the first World Championships being held at Saalfelden in Austria, where the winners were Switzerland's Ralph Naef and Sweden's Alexandra Engen.

Alexandra Engen wins World Cross Country Eliminator 2012Sweden's Alexandra Engen was last year crowned the first World Championships mountain bike eliminator

The Olympic track programme could, meanwhile, restore an individual points race, which featured between Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008, where the gold medals were claimed by Spain's Joan Llaneras and the Netherlands' Marianne Vos

It was controversially removed  for London 2012 as part of the UCI's drive to create gender parity and was replaced by the multi-event omnium.

The omnium replaced the individual pursuit, the points race and the Madison in the Olympics at London 2012 as the mass-start, multiple race event was incorporated for the Games, where the men's race was won by Denmark's Lasse Hansen and the women's by Britain's Laura Trott. 

Laura Trott wins ominum at London 2012Britain's Laura Trott won the omnium at London 2012 but may not get the chance to defend her title at Rio 2016

But the omnium could now be removed for Rio 2016 and the individual points race brought back into the fold for both men and women.

Cycling awarded 18 gold medals at London 2012, including 10 track, four road, and two each in BMX and mountain bike.

The final decision about adding new events will lay with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ruling Executive Board. 

They are due make a final ruling on the proposal by the end of the year but it could be discussed as early as their meeting in Lausanne on February 12 and 13.

"With regards to the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, the Management Committee expressed its support for a proposal to be made to the International Olympic Committee for the addition to the cycling programme of a points race and BMX freestyle and mountain bike eliminator events for both men and women," said a statement from the UCI.

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