Stakeholders of UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI WorldTour gather at their annual seminar

The different stakeholders of the UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI WorldTour met on 13 and 14 December in Lausanne, Switzerland, for their annual seminar organised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

The seminar for the leading series of women’s and men’s professional road racing was attended by around 160 people representing the UCI, organisers, teams and riders. They included: the President of the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP) Richard Plugge, the President of UNIO - the association of women's cycling teams – Stephen Delcourt, the President of the Association Internationale des Organisateurs de Courses Cyclistes (AIOCC) Christian Prudhomme, the President of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) Adam Hansen and CPA Women's Manager Alessandra Cappellotto.

In this pre-Olympic year, the seminar included discussion about the UCI’s place within the Olympic movement, where cycling currently has five disciplines on the programme of the Summer Olympic Games. A roundtable discussion between UCI President David Lappartient and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Director General Christophe De Kepper looked at cycling’s Olympic history (cycling has been at the Summer Olympic Games since the launch of their modern era in Athens, Greece, in 1896), talked about gender parity (the same number of men and women cyclists compete at the Olympics) and the development of cycling esport and esports in general.

The UCI Sports Director Peter Van den Abeele gave an overview of highlights from 2023, notably the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships which combined 13 separate UCI World Championships into one event in Glasgow and across Scotland (United Kingdom) in August. He also looked ahead to the UCI’s upcoming milestones for road cycling, in particular the first UCI Road World Championships to be held on the African continent: in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2025.

Regarding both men’s and women’s professional road cycling, PwC - the external auditor appointed by the UCI for the registration of UCI professional teams - presented its report on the economic health of teams.

The continuing growth and development of women’s cycling was welcomed by participants at the seminar. In the first year of the new licensing period for UCI Women’s WorldTeams, 16 teams applied for the 15 UCI Women’s WorldTour licences available. As a reminder, UCI Women’s ProTeams will be introduced in 2025 in line with the structure of men’s professional UCI Teams.

The UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) and its solidarity programmes were the subject of a roundtable discussion with the participation of one of the centre’s most recent successful athletes Biniam Girmay Hailu. The Eritrean athlete, member of UCI WorldTeam Intermarché - Wanty and winner of the Belgian Classic Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields as well as a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2022, was a trainee athlete at the UCI WCC in Aigle in 2018 and 2019. He talked about his memories of training at the centre in Aigle, Switzerland, and the opportunities opened up to him by the UCI.

“Without the UCI, I would not even be a professional cyclist,” he said.

He welcomed the programmes in place to develop athletes from Rwanda and the entire African continent for the 2025 UCI Road World Championships in Kigali.

The seminar was also an opportunity for UCI WCC Director Jacques Landry to outline the centre’s global solidarity programme. This reinforces the UCI WCC’s work to develop and guide athletes training at the UCI WCC in Switzerland or its Continental Development Satellites strategically placed throughout the world.

Updates to the UCI’s work to protect rider safety were discussed during a roundtable with some of the founding members of SafeR (for SafeRoadcycling). This independent entity, brings the UCI, AIGCP,AIOCC, UNIO, CPA and CPA Women together to collectively improve safety of UCI WorldTour, UCI Women’s WorldTour and men’s and women’s UCI ProSeries competitions.

Still on the topic of safety, an explanation was given on the UCI’s work with the cycling industry to create a clear regulation concerning the extreme inward inclination of brake levers. Positioning the levers with an extreme inclination limits the braking capacity of the riders and constitutes a modification of the product beyond its intended use. Such positioning will be restricted in 2024. In 2025, new regulations will come into force requiring compliance with the installation guidelines established by brake lever manufacturers.

Updates on the UCI’s efforts concerning sustainability were outlined, with a focus on the UCI Sustainability Report, published in October this year, and the UCI Sustainability Impact Tracker, available for use by all cycling’s stakeholders. This online platform enables users to calculate their carbon footprint and measure their contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The UCI continues to strive to ensure the integrity of cycling and its stakeholders through its education, awareness and prevention programmes. The seminar gave participants a chance to discover more about the UCI’s safeguarding policies and procedures as well as its SpeakUp campaign, launched in April this year as part of the Cycling Integrity programme.

Stakeholders were encouraged to consult and use the UCI’s Safeguarding Policy and Toolkit available on the Safeguarding page of the UCI website.

Efforts to safeguard the integrity of cycling include the testing programmes in the fight against doping and technological fraud. The International Testing Agency presented the cycling anti-doping programme, which it has managed since the UCI delegated its anti-doping operational activities to the independent body in January 2021.

When it comes to technological fraud, it was revealed that a total of 4,980 controls were carried out at 89% of UCI WorldTour events and 81% of UCI Women’s WorldTour events in 2023. No cases of technological fraud were discovered.

Finally, the popularity of cycling, in particular women’s and men’s professional road cycling, was outlined in a report on UCI WorldTour TV audiences by Nielsen Sport, and during discussions with Warner Bros. Discovery on the evolution of cycling in the global media rights landscape.

At the end of the seminar, UCI President David Lappartient said: “Every year, the UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI WorldTour Seminar gives the different stakeholders of women’s and men’s professional cycling a chance to come together and discuss topics important to our sport. In these exciting times for road cycling – following the inaugural edition of the UCI Cycling World Championships and ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 – the seminar once again demonstrated the desire of all participants to build on the momentum to ensure professional road cycling continues to develop, not only on a sporting level but also when it comes to integrity, sustainability and safety.”

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