By Duncan Mackay

December 12 - Britain's Wendy Houvenaghel (pictured), the Olympic pursuit silver medallist, has promised to focus on other events after her event was removed from the programme for London 2012 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The Northern Ireland rider was beaten in the final in Beijing by team-mate Rebecca Romero, who has led the protests after the IOC rubber-stamped the recommendation by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to drop a number of events so that there is gender parity at London.

Houvenaghel said: "From a personal perspective it is obviously devastating that my event is being removed from the London 2012 programme.

"However, my other event - the team pursuit - is now being included in the line-up.

"Being the current world champions and world record holders, this bodes very well for the future.

"The news didn’t really come as a shock because I knew that these changes were possible.

"There are pros and cons to the new line-up of events but I will extract the positives and focus on my route to Olympic gold.

"The individual pursuit would have been a very promising path to a medal given my experience in the event.

"But there are other cycling events that are suited to my capabilities as a rider and I haven’t ruled out competing in some of the other events.

"There are other endurance events, such as the omniums, and I am an endurance rider.

"So that’s a possibility."

As well as the men's and women's individual pursuits, the men's and women's points races and the men's Madison will all disappear in favour of sprints, keirins, team sprints, team pursuits and omniums for both sexes so that there five events each for men and women in London.

Joanna Rowsell, a team-mate of Houvenaghel and Lizzie Armitstead when the pursuit team won the world title in Poznan earlier this year, was also pleased with the decision to add the event to the London programme.

She said: "This news is very exciting for me as I am now able to concentrate all my time on the team pursuit which has always been my favourite event.

"This has come at a cost for other events, including the individual pursuit, in which I had placed fourth at this year's World Championships.

"While this is disappointing I think it is very good that men and women will now have an equal number of events."

Ed Clancy, who was part of the men's pursuit team along Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning (pictured) that won the gold medal in Beijing, was pleased that event survived but criticised the manner in which it happened.

He said: "They [the UCI] seem to do whatever they want, but now they have done this we need to know everything.

"I've never had aspirations in the individual pursuits so I'm just glad the team pursuit has survived, because that is where my priorities lie.

"The omnium gives me something more to look at but it all depends on whether the 200m time trial is included or not.

"Endurance would suit the likes of a Geraint Thomas.

"If they keep the 200m and make it a mix of the events then that would be better for me.

"It also depends on the race order.

"We need to know what format the omnium will take, how many days it will be raced over and how that clashes with the team pursuit in the rest of the Olympic calendar.

"If it's a case of there being no time between omnium races and the team pursuit then I'd probably sack the omnium off.

"If it doesn't clash then I'd like to do both.

"Ideally, though, we need to know as soon as possible.

"Ahead of Beijing, we knew two years out what order the events were in."

Clancy has plenty of sympathy for the likes of Wiggins and Romero who have seen their favourite events disappear off the programme.

He said: "I've got plenty of mates who do the Madison and individual pursuits who have lost out.

"It's not such a great thing for the sport losing disciplines.

"The problem with the omnium is that it is an event that has no history.

"For the cycling public it's probably not such a bad thing, but the beauty of events like individual pursuit and the Madison were that they are tactical races."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected] 

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