Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taylor Phinney's Petition to Save the Pursuit

Can we please distinguish between "Save the Pursuit" and "Save Track Cycling"? The latter should include saving Pursuit, Points, Madison, and, bringing back the Kilo/500. As a 15-year veteran pursuitist at US Elite and Masters National Track Championships (US) nothing is more thrilling to me than the 2012 prospect of Taylor Phinney being in the Gold Medal final--opposite the likes of Brad Wiggins or Geraint Thomas, but as an avid participant and amateur (in the true sense of the word) of the broader sport of track cycling--I would hate to see the Pursuit saved at the expense of the sport. It is heart-wrenching to see the possibility that the Pursuit will follow the Kilo into the Olympic dustbin, but what is unreasonable to the point of unconscionable is that track cycling is being asked to eliminate three more events (after the Kilo/500 was eliminated to "make room" for BMX) reducing the total number of track cycling disciplines from nine to five in eight years--in the name of gender equity, when (you mention swimming) there are 17 disciplines for each gender (34!) in Olympic Swimming.
The bone with no meat that we're being thrown--is the Omnium--an event dear to the hearts of two of the three UCI officials in a decsion-making capacity vis a vis the Olympic program, a handful of European Six Day racers--and no one else. The Omnium is a Trojan Horse that has gained some acceptance because it appears to replace, albeit in watered-down incarnations, some of the events--Kilo/500, Pursuit, Points Race--that we're being asked to accept are gone for good.
No one should fault Taylor for representing his own best interests. He is American cycling's genetic athletic prince. Like his mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, he races track--and the prospect of his future triumphs bodes well for needed gains in the popularity of American Track Cycling. But at best he's a crossover track cyclist--and I don't think he understands what's important in this case. It's not the Pursuit, it's the sport. We don't need any more internal canibalizations. We have to stop pitting the interests of track sprinters against track endurance cyclists, male against female--and COLLECTIVELY (U.S. and World) send this joke of diminished choices back to the UCI with such combined force that the UCI has no choice itself but to send it back to the IOC for complete review.

What Taylor's petition has pushed into its own shadow--is that the Pursuit should be saved in lieu of the Team Sprint--and that the Omnium is an accomplished fact that none of us can do anything about. Even if his petition wins deciding influence with the UCI--the sport of track cycling loses.
Neither gender equity, nor limiting the total number track cycling athletes per team (another excuse given for the cuts) should be accepted as legitimate reasons for reducing the number of track cycling disciplines. The Purusit is not the real heart of track cycling's rich history--as Taylor and John Wilcockson have asked us to believe--the true heart of track cycling is it's saturated color and variety.

We want gender equity; If we have to we can limit Olympic team sizes to a few sprinters and a few endurance cyclists--but give us--keep giving us--the full dazzling spectrum of track cycling's many events. It isn't track cycling without them.

Robert Black
Albrightsville, PA


Blogger pursuitist said...

Correction to what I wrote above. Six day racers are also protesting the loss of IP, Madison and Points.

This from Bike World News:

Six Day News:

"Some are saying that the elimination of the Points Race, Madison and individual pursuit from Olympic track cycling will have a detrimental effect on the viability of Six Day racing, where these disciplines play a vital part. UCI President Patrick McQuaid is set to carry the proposal to the International Olympic Committee, but there are petition drives going on that may sway his opinion.
Roger Kluge, the partner of Iljo Keisse for the Ghent Six Day is only 23, but he is no stranger to the Six Day world, having raced the Future Six Day several years ago. He is already eyeing the 2012 Olympics, but wonders what will happen to his favored disciplines."

1:58 PM  

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