Rio blow as UCI rejects Hong Kong's plans of bringing forward national championships as part of Olympic qualifiers

The world cycling governing body wants the championships to be held in June after the Olympic qualification ends on May 31, dealing a blow to the women’s road race team

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 7:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 10:10pm

The world cycling governing body has rejected Hong Kong’s plans of bringing forward the National Championships as part of the Olympic qualifiers in May, dealing a blow to the women’s road race team looking for more ranking points.

The coach’s [Shen Jinkang] plan was to bring forward the event to late May before the qualification closes
Leung Hung-tak

The National Championships, slated for late June, will include both the individual time trial (in Bride’s Pool in Tai Po) and the road race (in Tin Shui Wai), but the Hong Kong Cycling Association wanted to hold it in late May before qualification period for the Rio Games ends.

“The coach’s [Shen Jinkang] plan was to bring forward the event to late May before the qualification closes so that our riders can gain ranking points in our domestic event,” said Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak. “But unfortunately it was not accepted by the UCI who insisted that our National Championships must kick off in June after the qualification ends.

“Perhaps there are other member countries who also have similar plans with their national championships [hosting it earlier] but the UCI wants to make it fair to all member associations and therefore turned down our plans.”

Yang Qianyu was crowned the Tour of Thailand champion last week which was good news for the local camp after top rider Meng Zhaojuan ruled herself out after she was injured at the Asian Championships in January.

Shen has taken the women’s team to Kunming for altitude training in preparation for the Tour of Chongming Island in Shanghai next month before Olympic qualifying ends.

The Chongming tour is part of the women’s world tour offering abundant ranking points but the quality of the field is likely to be competitive.

Yang, who finished sixth in the Asian Championships in Oshima island near Tokyo, has secured 48 points in the Tour of Thailand, a result that put her back into the world’s top 100, one of the qualification criteria for the Rio Olympics.

The women’s road race qualification will close on May 31, with riders from the top 22 teams in the national rankings making it to the Rio Games. Also, there will be additional representation through the individual rankings with the top 100 riders in the world rankings having the opportunity of receiving one quota. Hong Kong holds down 45th place in the nation rankings while the highest from Asia is 24th-ranked Japan.

Four riders from Hong Kong have already qualified for Rio in five events for the Rio Games. They are Cheung King-lok (the men’s road race), Sarah Lee Wai-sze (the women’s sprint and keirin), Leung Chun-wing (the men’s omnium) and Diao Xiaojuan (the women’s omnium). The mountain bike qualification will close on May 25 with Chan Chun-hing likely to make it through after his third-place finish in the Asian Championships. Hong Kong sent five riders to the London Games four years ago.