A huge advocate of women’s cycling, the UCI is constantly working to improve the lot of our sport’s female athletes. As a result of the measures put in place, the recognition and popularity of women’s cycling has now reached unprecedented heights.
More women involved in the sport’s administration, increased media coverage of events and a new Commission devoted entirely to women’s cycling are among the initiatives introduced by the UCI.
The UCI now has a Women’s Commission, headed by Ms. Tracey Gaudry, which includes representatives of the entire cycling family.
This Commission’s mission is to advise the UCI and other Commissions on all matters relating to women’s cycling. The Women’s Commission actively participated in projects such as the creation of the UCI Women’s WorldTour and the equalisation of prize money across the different disciplines.
Aware that this Commission needs support from all spheres of cycling, the UCI has appointed at least one woman to all its sports Commissions.The benefits of this are two-fold:
• ensuring a certain gender balance in the discussions of Commissions;
• promoting a constant exchange of information between the Women’s Commission and all other Commissions.
Several women now occupy managerial posts within the UCI administration, including the UCI Director General.
The UCI has also increased staffing levels for women’s cycling projects, and thanks to this, more attention is now paid to the global communications plan for women’s cycling, across all disciplines. Exciting projects continue to be developed and are revealed as they see the light of day.
The fact that there is the same number of medals for men and women in cycling at the summer Olympic Games is a demonstration that women are already held in high esteem in our sport. Across our five Olympic disciplines – Road, Track, Mountain Bike, BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle – the women’s competitions are intense and exciting, attracting incredible media attention and large crowds of fans. Our other disciplines – Para-cycling, Cyclo-cross, Trials and Indoor Cycling – also enjoy strong participation from women, and our UCI World Champions fly the flag high for their sport.
The UCI is also committed to ensuring that there is a large pool of talented young women riders from all continents ready to take over from the current elite. Many young women athletes train at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland. Each year, promising riders from different disciplines benefit from expert coaching and advice that help them rise to the highest possible level. A number of the UCI WCC’s former trainees have gone on to shine at UCI World Championships and Olympic Games, not least track cyclists such as Great Britain’s Victoria Pendleton (double Olympic Champion – 2008 and 2012 – and nine world titles), China’s Guo Shuang (four Olympic medals – 2008 and 2012 – and 2009 UCI Keirin World Champion) and Lisandra Guerra, from Cuba, who was UCI 500m Time Trial World Champion in 2008. UCI WCC trainees have also excelled in the BMX discipline: Stefany Hernández (Venezuela) was crowned UCI World Champion in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, in 2015, one year after Doménica Azuero González, from Ecuador, won the Junior UCI BMX World Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Azuero González also went on to win bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The growing number of Elite women athletes and the increased opportunities for women’s racing should be reflected in the number of women working in cycling professions. In 2013, the UCI WCC organised an all-women’s coaching course as part of its Coaching Development Programme. This drew 10 participants from Finland, South Africa, Iran, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Japan, Uganda, Hong Kong and El Salvador. The UCI WCC has organised further courses in subsequent years as part of this programme, usually with the participation of approximately twelve women from around ten countries. These qualified coaches can now provide expert coaching advice to young athletes in their own countries, thus raising the level of women’s cycling even further.
To encourage more women to complete the UCI WCC training course for Sport Directors, the UCI has offered scholarships to the majority of the participants in the course every year since 2016.
As the development of women’s cycling forges ahead, the UCI is continuing its work to bring the sport to even greater heights.