The various stakeholders of the UCI Women's WorldTour and UCI WorldTour - the flagship series of women's and men's professional road cycling - met on 28 and 29 November in Monte Carlo (Monaco) for their annual seminar, organised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The seminar brought together some 180 participants representing, in addition to the UCI, organisers, teams and riders. The event was attended by the President of the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (AIGCP) Richard Plugge, the President of UNIO - the association of women's cycling teams - Esra Tromp, the President of the Association Internationale des Organisateurs de Courses Cyclistes (AIOCC) Christian Prudhomme, the President of the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) Gianni Bugno and CPA Women's Manager Alessandra Cappellotto.
The highlight of the seminar was the presentation of the progress of discussions between stakeholders on the future of road cycling. These discussions, conducted in a climate of cooperation, aim to move cycling forward in the strategic areas of defining the sporting product (rankings, participation rules, calendar, etc.), commercial collaboration (setting up a common digital environment, improving production, etc.) and rider safety (establishment by the stakeholders of a structure to ensure compliance with the regulations laid down by the UCI, working on the processes and conduct of all involved...).
In addition to this central topic, the usual seminar themes were on the programme for the two days: updates on the UCI Women's WorldTour and the UCI WorldTour, rider safety, innovation, the UCI's sustainable development strategy, the Federation's medical activities, cycling's anti-doping programme and the UCI's integrity initiatives (protection of cycling and all involved). PwC - the external auditor appointed by the UCI for the registration of UCI professional teams - also presented its report on the economic health of teams.
The participants were pleased to learn about the recent and future developments of the UCI Women’s WorldTour and the UCI WorldTour. The former is currently undergoing very significant development. Several elements bear witness to this, such as the number of teams applying for the latest UCI Women's WorldTour licence available and the audience figures prepared by Nielsen, which were discussed in the presence of Laurent-Eric Le Lay, Director of Sports at France Télévisions, and Stéphane Guerry, President of Havas Play. From 2023 onwards, the UCI Women's WorldTour peloton will consist of 15 teams, marking the end of the implementation of this division.
The UCI's sustainability strategy was detailed in a context where the UCI Climate Action Charter has already been signed by a number of UCI Women's WorldTour and UCI WorldTour organisers and teams. Examples of concrete strategies (calculation of carbon footprint, practical solutions to reduce it, compensation projects) were presented. There is a growing consensus that cycling stakeholders can play a catalytic role in climate action. Participants recognised the value of their contribution in encouraging people to adopt cycling in their daily lives, and thus combat climate change and other afflictions of our contemporary societies (lack of activity, traffic congestion, etc.).
In terms of riders' health, the UCI Medical Director, Prof. Xavier Bigard, gave an update on the Covid-19 pandemic. In view of the generally favourable evolution of the situation, the relaxation of measures was confirmed. However, physical distancing and the wearing of masks in risk situations remain highly recommended. The UCI remains vigilant and will take the appropriate measures if the situation deteriorates significantly. Other topics discussed included the evolution of the "Concussion Protocol" - which takes into account the specificities of the different disciplines and offers practical tools to potential stakeholders in the field - and the "Tramadol Programme", which will end on 31 December 2023 when the substance joins the "Prohibited List" of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). An adaptation of the “Protocol for Extreme Weather Conditions”, based on the recent “IOC consensus statement on recommendations and regulations for sport events in the heat” was also presented.
The latest updates to the UCI's safety action plan were also presented in detail, in particular regarding the use of IT tools (race incident database and evaluation software), developed in collaboration with the University of Ghent (Belgium), in the evaluation of the degree of danger of race routes with a view to making them safer.
Another part of the seminar concerned integrity. In this context, the participants were given a presentation of the "Cycling Integrity" initiative launched by the UCI in May 2022 and its three pillars "clean cycling" (anti-doping), "safe cycling" (promotion of an environment free of harassment and other forms of abuse) and "fair cycling" (fight against all forms of manipulation of competitions). The UCI recalled the role of the REVEAL platform, set up and managed by the ITA, on which anyone is encouraged to share information relating to suspected doping or alleged offences. The promotion of REVEAL was the first campaign launched under the umbrella of Cycling Integrity. The UCI is increasingly investing in training and raising awareness of integrity issues within the cycling community, and to this end has hired a person responsible for this area within the UCI's administrative department.
Finally, the participants were given the latest news from the cycling industry by a representative of Shimano Europe.
At the end of the seminar, UCI President David Lappartient said: "The 2022 UCI Women's WorldTour and UCI WorldTour Seminar once again gave rise to constructive exchanges in a spirit of cooperation between the various members of women's and men’s professional road cycling. Cycling is on the up, as evidenced by the extraordinary growth of women's road cycling and the unprecedented growth of the cycle industry. We are all working together to further develop our sport in all its aspects.”