UCI World Cycling Centre: Sport Directors in the classroom

The complex role of Sport Director was dealt with in depth at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) this week during the latest course for people practising the profession.

Fifty Sport Directors (Directeurs Sportifs, DS) from 14 countries spent five days at the UCI WCC in Aigle, Switzerland, on the UCI course which deals with all aspects of working as a team DS.

Quite apart from the pivotal topic of team management, participants attended sessions on race organisation, anti-doping, riders’ conduct, race security, technical regulations and race procedures.

“There is a lot more to know than I thought,” commented Trixi Worrack, rider with UCI Women’s Team Trek-Segafredo. Although still a racing member of the team, she supports their Sport Director Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Assistant Sport Director Giorgia Bronzini:

“From the car, they can’t see everything that’s going on in the race so I am taking on that role,” explains Trixi Worrack. “I am learning a lot on this course, things that as a rider you don’t have to know.”

The German pro rider says she has had very good Sport Directors, mostly men, during her career.

“Now I have two women, which is also good. I think it helps in a lot of ways that they are former athletes. Even if it was a DS coming from another sport… they have a better understanding.”

Both Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and two-time UCI World Champion Giorgia Bronzini had long and successful careers as pro cyclists before taking up their current roles with Trek-Segafredo. Both women completed the UCI Sport Director course in Aigle last year.

As were her two DS’s, Trixi Worrack is on a scholarship to attend this week’s course, offered by the UCI to encourage women to take up roles within cycling.

Australian Beth Duryea, Assistant DS with UCI Women’s Team Canyon – SRAM Racing, is another of the four women with a scholarship place this year. The trained physio has passed by the role of soigneur and now, alongside her DS duties, also looks after the team’s marketing, communications and social media.

Despite her years of experience, she has found it useful to go over all the areas relative to her work and brush up on her knowledge. She is not overly surprised that it is predominantly male-oriented profession.

“A lot of former women pro riders want to have a family. Or they have been studying part-time for many years while racing and want to use their qualifications,” she points out. “I don’t think the DS of a women’s team needs to be woman, but it certainly helps to have female staff on the team.”

The annual course for Sport Directors is open to any DS working with a UCI WorldTeam, UCI ProTeam or UCI Women’s WorldTeam. It is held in both English and French, and participants must successfully pass the final written exam to receive their UCI certification.

Every year since 2016, the UCI has offered scholarships for women with DS or race experience to attend the course.