Newsflash for May 2, 2003
Edited by John Stevenson
World Track Championships to move
Citing the threat to rider health from the SARS virus, the UCI has decided to move the World Track Championships from China to a yet-to-be-decided location. The championships was scheduled for July 30-August 3 in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen; a new venue is expected to be announced next week.
Cycling Australia, which along with France was one of the first national federations to withdraw its team from the championships, has welcomed the move. Cycling Australia President, Mike Victor, says the UCI has made a responsible decision.
"We were not prepared to risk the health and safety of our cyclists and we are very pleased that the UCI has reached the same conclusion," said Mr Victor. "We are now waiting for confirmation of the new venue so we can formulate new plans.
"We also need to know the dates because some of our riders have commitments with professional road teams and this might impact on which riders can contest the Championships."
Australian Track Cycling Head Coach, Martin Barras, says he is also pleased the event has been moved but is eager to know the new dates and venue so he can adjust the team preparation.
"If it's within a week of the original date we will be very pleased because that will mean no change to the sprint programme but any delay will cause great problems for our endurance team," said Barras. "Brett Lancaster and Graeme Brown are two of our major players and they have a commitment with their professional road team (Ceramiche Panaria) to ride the Tour of Portugal (August 6-17) and would not be available.
"We have the riders to replace them but it would create a hole at the very top level," he said.
Australia was the top track cycling nation at last year's World Championships in Denmark where Australians claimed four gold, five silver and four bronze medals.
UCI Vice President, Ray Godkin, said the sport's ruling body will announce within the next week the new venue and dates although he has confirmed the Senior Championships will take place prior to the Junior Track Cycling World Championships, scheduled to begin on August 20 in Moscow.
"The decision was made in consultation with the Chinese and they accept and understand the reasons why the Championships must be moved," said Mr Godkin. "Certainly we will be looking to China to host a future senior Championships, possibly in 2007, but not necessarily in Shenzhen.
"It's more likely that if the 2007 senior World Championships go to China they would go to Beijing and act as a test event for the 2008 Olympic Games."
But Mr Godkin says the Chinese have spent US$30 million to build a velodrome in Shenzhen for the World Championships and he hopes they might consider hosting the Junior World Titles in 2005, when the road and track disciplines will both be contested at the same Championships for the first time.
"The Shenzhen venue has a great 13km road circuit adjacent to the velodrome and would be ideal for the combined junior World Championships in 2005," said Mr Godkin.
Victor, Godkin and Barras are all currently attending the Australian Track Cycling Championships at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)