The UCI has released its athletes quota for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the men’s and women’s road events. For New Zealand it’s mixed news as the men will get four spots for Tokyo, but none for the women.
The road race and time trial events will see 170 spots across road race and time trial for the men and 92 for the women.
New Zealand, ranked 27th in the UCI World Rankings will be able to field 2 riders in each of the men’s road race and time trial events. The men’s road race will take on a 234km course that includes five significant climbs and 4865m of elevation. Featuring on the men’s road race will be a loop around the lower slopes of Mount Fuji.
By contrast the women’s road race is 137km in length but features none of the Mount Fuji climbing seen in the men’s race, with 2692m of elevation and two climbs before the finish at the Fuji International Speedway. Much has been made already about the lack of equality in terms of the challenge between men’s and women’s courses.
Paralympic road races will entirely take place on the Fuji International Speedway around a 13.2km course.
The time trial course, on the other hand, is the same for both men and women; with men completing 2 laps of the 22.1km circuit and women tackling one lap. The lap contains 423m of ascent. The Paralympic time trial course is again centred around the Fuji International Speedway, around an 8km course.
The significant news for New Zealand is that although the men will get to field two riders in the road race and two riders in the time trial, the women’s events are a different story. There are no spaces available for women in either road race or time trial. Australia, the USA, the Netherlands and Germany are the teams with big numbers at the road race; all able to field four riders in the road race. Although 42 teams will be eligible to compete in the women’s road events, New Zealand – ranked number 30 in the UCI World Rankings – is not one of them.
While we will be thrilled about the prospect of potentially seeing the likes of Tom Scully and Patrick Bevin tearing it up in the time trials and George Bennett having a crack at a very mountainous Olympic road race course – all subject to selection – we will miss the presence of our finest women taking on the biggest sporting event in the world. It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on the national championships coming up in February.
Since 2008 Linda Villumsen has been a regular at the Olympics, teaming up with Joanne Kiesanowski and Cath Cheatley in Beijing before racing both London and Rio. Villumsen’s best finish was 5th in the road race in Beijing, while the former world champion finished 4th in the time trial in London and 6th in Rio.
National Olympic Committees have to confirm the number of quota used by 15th December this year before the UCI reallocates the remaining places.