Published: 5 March 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain’s Simon Yates would welcome the return of the points race to the Olympic track cycling programme as a ‘huge opportunity’ to ride at the Rio 2016 Games.
The 20-year-old, who became world champion in the discipline at last month’s track world championships in Belarus, believes the event represents his most favourable route to competing in Brazil in three years’ time.
The points race last appeared in the Games in 2008 when Yates’ coach Chris Newton won bronze in Beijing, before changes were made to create uniformity between the men’s and women’s schedules.
The men's and women's individual pursuit and points race were deposed of in addition to the men's Madison. They were replaced by the team sprint, team pursuit and keirin for women, while the omnium was added for both genders.
Further changes to the programme could take place for the next Games which would present an opening for the British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme athlete who delivered a captivating display to win his rainbow jersey in Minsk.
“Of course, if the points race came back into the Olympics hopefully I’ve already put my hand up to say I’d be one of the contenders to ride,” Yates said.
“It’d be a huge opportunity to ride it and I think with Rio the young guys are starting to come through. You look at say, Jason [Kenny], he rode his first world championships at 20, the same age as me and he was an Olympic champion at Beijing so it shows you that’s the way to go.”
Yates maintains that the current endurance disciplines in the Games – the team pursuit and omnium – don’t cater to his strengths with extensive competition for places.
A bronze in January 2011 at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Beijing was the last time he appeared for Great Britain in the four-man pursuit and he has since been deployed in bunch races.
“I don’t think it’s changed my goals as such,” Yates said of his win. “Obviously I’ve thrown myself into being selected for Rio on the track but I think if the points race doesn’t come back it’s going to be a tall order to get into the events that are there now.
“There are strong guys, the team pursuit for one it’s so competitive there are so many guys who could step up and then the omnium is the same again.
“You’ve got Ed [Clancy], Sam Harrison and Jon Dibben, they are all throwing their name into the hat already and it would be quite a tall order to get into that really.”
The Bury-born athlete has also demonstrated aptitude on the road. Wins at stage six of the Tour de l’Avenir at Fossano and the Twining Pro-Am Tour race in the Premier Calendar in 2011 indicate future potential for a rider Chris Newton says ‘can sprint and can climb’.
An arduous summer of road racing awaits, heavily built on the the UCI under 23 Nations’ Cup which will play a large part in determining the number of places Great Britain are awarded for the under 23 race at the road world championships in September.
The Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften in Belgium on 6 April shortly followed by the La Côte Picarde on the 10 April is a possible opening double for British Cycling’s Olympic Academy group and Yates wants further conquests on the back of his track heroics.
“Now I’m done with the track I’m going to start heading to the road, going to Majorca [for a training camp],” Yates said.
“Hopefully I’ll get some road miles in and have a good season on the road. After this then we can start looking at the track again but I will concentrate on the road for the time being.
“We normally do all the Nations’ Cups on the road and they’re obviously massive goals, the best races we can do as under-23s and hopefully I can do well in some of them and get the attention of [Team] Sky and some of the other big teams.”