Overhaul of Olympics cycling qualification rules

the rule that denied Sir Chris Hoy the chance to defend his title in the men’s sprint at 
London 2012, is among a series of changes announced to the qualification system for Olympic cycling.

Hannah Barnes, left, had a strong start. Picture: Getty

The changes have been made with the aim of strengthening the competition across the road, track, BMX and mountain bike disciplines in time for the Rio Games in 2016.

Nations will now be able to enter two athletes in the men’s and women’s individual sprint and keirin races, up from one under the previous system. At the London Olympics, Jason Kenny was selected ahead of Hoy in the men’s sprint, leaving the Scot to settle for golds in the team sprint and keirin.

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The host nation will now automatically be granted a spot 
in all four disciplines, rather than just BMX, as was the case in London.

For road cycling, there is a major increase in the number of quota places allocated from the Africa Tour circuit, rising from five to nine while, in BMX, three more nations will be allowed to compete in Rio compared to London.

“After a detailed process of review with the IOC and the 
Association of National Olympic Committees, I am delighted that the cycling qualification systems for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have now been approved,” UCI president Brian Cookson said.

“I am particularly pleased that we can look forward to more nations competing in BMX and that extra quota places have been made available through the Africa Tour circuit for road, and that we will see more of the world’s best riders compete in the individual sprint and keirin.

“With Brazil being granted quota places for road, mountain biking and BMX, the 2016 Games provide a genuine opportunity to build on the already significant progress the sport has 
witnessed there in recent years.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Hannah Barnes made a strong start to the Friends Life Women’s Tour, finishing third in the opening stage from Oundle to Northampton yesterday.

The 21-year-old UnitedHealthcare rider from Kent impressed as she led the British attack, with double-junior world road race champion Lucy Garner finishing sixth and 2012 
Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead in eighth.

Sweden’s Emma Johansson leads the way after the first of five stages, with the final stage concluding in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.

Orica AIS rider Johansson claimed a narrow victory over Marianne Vos of Holland on the 92.4-kilometre stage.

Among the other British 
riders, Jessie Walker finished 18th, Dani King came home 29th and Laura Trott, who has been suffering from laryngitis, was nine places further back.