Veteran cycling commentator Phil Liggett has risked the wrath of BMX and mountain biking fans by suggesting that those events should not be at the Olympics.
Speaking to the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, Liggett criticised changes to the track programme introduced by the IOC and UCI that result in five events in the Velodrome for both men and women, with the individual pursuit one of those to be ditched: “It is absolutely disgraceful what they have done,” he said. “They have devastated the track with the new events and taking out the iconic events of the Olympics,” Liggett said.
“They have taken out the exciting and interesting events – the individual pursuit, the 1km time trial and the women’s 500m time trial, and put in an omnium that no one will ever understand. There is only one rider from each country in the omnium and they are a jack of all trades and master of none.”
“Nations and riders complained, but the UCI wanted equality. They got that but they also took out women’s events. They introduced BMX. Great, but I am sure [Olympics founder] Pierre de Coubertin would have laughed his head off if he found out it was an Olympic discipline.
“It might be exciting but we are talking the Olympic Games. We have never had a good mountain biking event. Thousands will watch them but they are not Olympic gold medal events.
“They weren’t meant to be in the Olympic Games.”
Regardless of opinion on how watchable XC mountain bike racing is, that’s still a bit of a silly way to express frustration at the removal of some of the most exciting track events from the Olympics (see Phil, we actually agree with you on this). The decision to drop some track events was taken jointly by the IOC and UCI. Turning inwards and annoying thousands of mountain bikers and BMXers by suggesting their inclusion in the Olympics is a joke is about the worst way of tackling a problem brought on by poor choices made by the IOC and UCI and does nothing for general uplift in interest in cycling in the UK that we are experiencing right now. It’s also extremely insulting to the riders and coaches who have worked so hard to be at these games from both disciplines. And as for the ‘They weren’t meant to be in the Olympic Games.’ it’s barely worth the time to point out how daft that statement really is.
We understand the sentiment Phil, but you’ve expressed it very badly.
What do you guys think?