The economic impact of the 2021 UCI Road and Mountain Bike World Championships

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is delighted today to publish a report compiled by professional services firm EY on the significant positive economic impact of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders (Belgium) and the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole (Italy). This is the fourth report that the UCI has commissioned on its major events.

The annual quest for the UCI World Champion’s rainbow jersey is a major highlight on the UCI International Calendar, across cycling’s various disciplines. Despite the fact that the ongoing health crisis continued to disturb major sporting events in 2021, the health protocols put in place – widely recognised for their effectiveness – meant that the UCI Road and Mountain Bike World Championships were able to welcome spectators and create a friendly atmosphere that was highly valued by visitors and locals alike. The report states that more than a million visitors attended the 2021 UCI Road World Championships and 8,000 spectators the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

The report also revealed that between them the UCI Road and Mountain Bike World Championships generated nearly €33.3m in economic activity for host cities and regions.

The 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which took place on 25-29 August 2021, are an excellent example of the benefits that staging a major UCI event can bring to a host city/region:

  • The event generated more than €5.9m in economic activity for host city and region, with the equivalent of 156 jobs a year being created. 1,454 athletes and team members from 56 countries attended the championships.

  • The UCI Mountain Bike World Championships also left a positive tourism legacy, with 96% of international visitors to Val di Sole reporting that they would be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to recommend the region as a holiday destination to their friends and family.

  • The UCI Mountain Bike World Championships proved popularity with the vast majority of local residents and spectators: 90% of residents and 93% of visitors surveyed said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with it.

  • The event also received extensive coverage on TV (in 113 countries in total, with an aggregate audience of 15 million viewers) and generated considerable engagement on social media (6,8 million impressions on Instagram, 3 million on Twitter, and 28,5 million people reached on Facebook).

The 2021 UCI Road World Championships generated significant economic impact: €27.4m of economic activity leading to the creation of 565 jobs. A further press release on the economic impact and overall assessment of these UCI World Championships will be published today.

David Lappartient, UCI President said: “Despite the major challenges that the health situation posed for the staging of our World Championships and for the National Federations that take part in them, 2021 was a year that saw some magnificent events. I would like to pay tribute to the organisers for the wonderful job they did in making our World Championships such fantastic sporting events with the power to bring people together. Conducted in collaboration with our Federation, the EY reports highlights the economic benefits of our World Championships for host cities and their regions. It underlines the importance of the events and the international exposure they bring thanks to the athletes, their teams, spectators, visitors, organisers and media, all of which have benefits for the local economy. It is essential for us to make these reports available to our partners so they can see the positive impact of World Championships and other major UCI events."

Peter Arnold, EY UK chief economist, said: “Our report further underscores the benefits that cycling events can bring to local economies. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it reveals the extent to which spectators want to attend cycling events and enjoy the services laid on by host cities. Now more than ever, cycling also projects key values by bringing people together and promoting soft mobility, sustainable tourism and the services that host cities offer.”

Read the report: Union Cycliste Internationale – Events economic impact report – Annual review of 2021