Monthly Archives: June 2016

‘Pointless’ to appeal against Rio omission

Jess Varnish, former Team GB cyclist

Jess Varnish and Katy Marchant finished fifth in the team sprint at the World Championships in March

Jess Varnish will not appeal against her omission from Great Britain’s cycling team for Rio 2016, saying it would be a “pointless” process.

Varnish, 25, was dropped from the squad in April after finishing fifth in the team sprint at the World Championships.

She later said she was the victim of sexist comments from technical director Shane Sutton, who has since resigned.

The sprinter says she will now “move on” with her life but believes she will compete for Great Britain again.

The squad for August’s Rio Games was announced last Friday but Varnish said she did not hear from new British Cycling technical director Andy Harrison until the following Tuesday.

While Harrison revealed a new process of appeals alongside the squad details, Varnish believes nothing has changed.

“No reason for my non-selection was given,” she said. “It is heavily weighted in favour of British Cycling, puts significant financial risk on the athlete, and ultimately comes down to selectors’ discretion.

“It’s pretty plain to see that selectors’ discretion would not be in my favour and appealing would be a pointless process.

“It’s sad that an organisation that once prided itself on fact and data, now pick and choose riders on discretion. I know I’m not the only rider to feel like this.”


Shane Sutton resigned in April amid claims of sexism and discrimination towards elite cyclists. He has denied any wrongdoing

Friday’s squad announcement came after a tumultuous few months for the sport in Britain in the run-up to the Olympics, which start on 5 August.

A number of reviews are ongoing at the sport’s national governing body after Sutton quit amid claims of sexism and use of derogatory language towards Para-cyclists.

Allegations against Sutton – which he denies – are being investigated, while a wider review into whether there are “fundamental behavioural issues” in British Cycling’s World Class Programme will report back after the Olympics.

A third inquiry is also underway into claims official British Cycling kit was available to buy online.

Varnish had said in May she believed she was “a world-class athlete” and had “the ability to win more medals”.

However, at the time of her dropping from the squad, Sutton told the Daily Telegraph: “There is no point carrying on and wasting UK Sport’s money on someone who is not going to medal going forward.”

The 2011 world silver medallist is now pursuing a career in personal training, and is hoping to study sports nutrition at university.

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British Road Race Championships: Hannah Barnes and Adam Blythe win first titles

Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes

Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes won their first British Road Race titles

Hannah Barnes beat younger sister Alice by a wheel to win her first British road race title, as Adam Blythe held off Mark Cavendish for the men’s crown.

Barnes, 23, edged home in a sprint finish on the 106km (66-mile) course in Stockton-on-Tees, wining in two hours 35 minutes 24 seconds.

Tinkoff rider Blythe, 26, also left it late to make a sprint for the line and win in four hours, 31 minutes and seven seconds on the 212km (112-mile) course.

“I really wanted that one,” he said.

Team Sky’s Alex Peters led for long periods of the race, but it was Blythe who held off former British champion Cavendish in the final 20 metres for his first British title.

Canyon-SRAM rider Barnes only returned to racing in April after spending eight months out with a broken ankle.

However, she won the battle with younger sibling Alice, who had to settle for second and a second successive Under-23 title.

World champion Lizzie Armitstead was unable to defend her title because of illness.

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Tour de France: Thermal cameras to be used against ‘mechanical doping’

An example of a 'doped' bike

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Doped bikes: An example of how it works

Thermal cameras will be used at this year’s Tour de France to prevent riders hiding motors in their bikes.

The first proven case of such practice, known as ‘mechanical doping’, saw Belgium’s Femke van den Driessche banned for six years in April.

The cameras will be portable and can be operated from the back of a motorcycle or the edge of the road.

They will be used in addition to a magnetic resonance system that screens bikes at the start and finish lines.

Cycling’s governing body the UCI had defended that method of detection after TV station France 2 and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claimed their own thermal imaging picked up five hidden motors at two races this year.

Read more: Can you really ‘dope’ a bicycle?

France’s minister of state for sport Thierry Braillard said even a stopped motor could be detected by the new cameras, developed by the Atomic Energy Commission at the request of the government.

“With this technology, which has been approved by the UCI and by the Tour de France, those who want to cheat will be taking very very big risks,” he added.

“It’s a complement to what the UCI has been doing.”

Reigning champion Chris Froome will lead Team Sky for the 103rd edition of cycling’s most prestigious race, held from 2-24 July.

Froome will be supported by Welsh riders Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe, who will be the road captain in the nine-strong team, while fellow Briton Ian Stannard is also named.


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Dani King: London 2012 gold medallist weighs up appeal against Rio snub

Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell Shand on the podium with their London 2012 gold medals

Dani King (left) won team pursuit gold at the London 2012 Olympics with Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell Shand

Dani King was surprised to learn she could challenge British Cycling’s decision to not select her for the Olympics and is considering an appeal.

King, 25, won Olympic gold in the team pursuit at London 2012 but, on the advice of British Cycling, switched full-time to road racing last year.

“Initially I was told that I couldn’t appeal as I wasn’t a programme rider,” King, the second-highest British rider in the world standings, told BBC Sport.

“I’m going to explore that option.”

King was overlooked when the GB squad was revealed last week but British Cycling’s interim performance manager Andy Harrison later revealed athletes outside its funded programme could now appeal.

“I haven’t really been given a fair explanation as to why I haven’t been selected to be completely honest,” King said.

“I was given nine criteria at the start of the year which I’ve been working toward and I’m absolutely gutted.”

  • Wiggins may not retire after Rio
  • Cavendish wants more than GB kit in Rio
  • King criticises Rio omission

Emma Pooley and Nikki Harris, who have been chosen to support lead road rider Lizzie Armitstead, are both ranked below King, who has called the decision “unfair”.

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King considering Olympics appeal

King defied expectations by returning to elite racing after a life-threatening training crash in November 2014 left her with eight broken ribs, a bruised liver and punctured lung.

She stopped receiving UK Sport funding two months later and was told she would not be considered for the Rio track cycling team late last year. She has been focusing exclusively on road racing ever since.

“I have really enjoyed being on the road this year and I feel I’ve exceeded all expectations in terms of my results,” she added.

Despite the Olympic omission and the controversies surrounding British Cycling following the departure of technical director Shane Sutton amid claims of sexism and discrimination, King refuses to be too critical of the national set-up.

“When I was on the programme I was supported really well – it’s just disappointing that I feel like this selection hasn’t been fair to me,” she said.

“I’m not here to slag off British Cycling and I do wish all of the British riders a lot of success in Rio.”

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Rio 2016: Sir Bradley Wiggins says he may not retire after Rio Olympics

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Wiggins not ruling out competing after Rio

Sir Bradley Wiggins says he may continue to race on the track into 2017 having previously said he intended to retire after the Rio Olympics.

The 2012 Tour de France winner returned to the GB team pursuit squad two years ago with the aim of winning a last Olympic gold before ending his career.

“It’s not 100% yet,” Wiggins, 36, said.

“I have races I’m committed to until the end of the year and then I’ll decide – it might be on a yearly basis after that.”

And he told BBC Sport: “I’m enjoying it as much as ever now. My progression over the last 12 months in this discipline has been such a sharp rise.”

Wiggins will take part in his fifth Olympic Games after being officially named among 26 Team GB cyclists to compete in Rio this summer.

In April 2015 he took part in his final road race at Paris-Roubaix before turning to concentrate on the team pursuit with the aim of track success in Brazil.

Wiggins began his career in track cycling and had said winning gold in Rio in the team pursuit would be “a nice way to end my career”.

  • Wiggins: At times I wish I hadn’t won Tour

In February, he won World Championship silver in London and later indicated he would take part in further races until the end of the year, but now he could prolong his career into 2017 and beyond.

“At the moment I’m just focusing on these Olympics and I’m going to allow myself the time to keep that option open if I feel like continuing or not,” he said.

In Rio, Wiggins could become Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian of all time.


A medal in Rio for Wiggins would see him pass Sir Chris Hoy as Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian

He is already joint-top medal winner alongside Sir Chris Hoy with seven Olympic medals, four of which are gold – albeit Hoy has six golds to his name.

But he says that milestone in itself is not an especially motivating factor.

“For me it’s always about gold medals and five gold medals sounds a lot better than four,” said Wiggins.

“They’re the only ones I really ever think of. I don’t really think of the haul or ‘a bronze medal will do’. I want to win golds.

“It’s no secret we want to win. We’re in a really good place and everyone’s excited about what we can do.”

In April, just three months before the start of the Olympics, British Cycling faced upheaval when their performance director Shane Sutton stepped down amid allegations of sexism and discrimination.

But Wiggins maintains the impact that level of negative attention and managerial change has had on Rio preparations has been negligible.

“We never saw Shane. Shane was in an office job. It never really had any impact on the endurance squad,” said Wiggins.

“On a day-to-day basis he wasn’t here in the track centre when training was going on so we didn’t really have much contact with him.

“You lead quite a selfish existence in this set-up and you end up just focusing on your own selection and controlling your bike round the track at 60 kilometres per hour.”

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