Rio 2016 have been forced to push their BMX test event back a day after riders refused to race, claiming the course for the event was “unsafe”.
The International BMX Cycling Challenge was scheduled for today and tomorrow but some of the sport’s top names, including 2013 world champion Liam Phillips of Britain, felt some of the jumps were too dangerous.
The event, which features some of the world’s best riders, including all of the top 10 ranked men, will still be held but will take place on a modified course on Sunday.
Following complaints from the participants after they took part in a test run, the International Cycling Union asked Rio 2016 to make changes to the course to "increase excitement and safety".
“I expressed my views regarding the safety of the track here in Rio on behalf of not only myself, but my fellow competitors,” Phillips, also a BMX Supercross double World Cup winner, wrote on social networking site Instagram.
“We, more than anyone else, want a platform to showcase the sport of BMX.
“We shouldn't have to 'race' on such sub-standard tracks.
“Although I feel the sport took a step backwards today with the riders refusing to ride, it was extremely necessary for the riders' safety.
“I am confident that this is a significant turning point for our sport.”
The BMX venue, located on the Deodoro Olympic Park, which will be the second largest cluster at next year's Olympics and Paralympics, was recently unveiled by the city’s Government.
The course itself, which is 400 metres long and features a series of jumps, obstacles and tight bends was designed by Tom Ritzenthaler, who was behind the courses used for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and in London four years later.
“We will have all of the top 10 in the men’s world rankings and nine of the top 10 women,” Rio 2016 BMX sport manager Jorge Vasquez said.
“They will need all of their ability because this course we have built is the biggest in the history of the sport in the Olympic Games and is extremely technical.”
Latvian Maris Strombergs, who won the first-ever Olympic BMX gold on the sport’s debut at Beijing 2008 before retaining his title in London, heads the men’s field which also includes current world champion Niek Kimmann.
Reigning Olympic women’s gold medallist Mariana Pajón of Colombia and world champion Venezuela’s Stefany Hernandez will also be competing.
"Test events are an important part of the process to ensure venues are ready for the Games," a Rio 2016 spokesperson said.
"The athletes’ feedback is important and we are taking steps with the UCI to ensure that we deliver the best track for the Games and the test event."
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