More than 50 Sport Directors (Directeurs Sportifs, DS) spent this week at the UCI World Cycling Centre arming themselves with the latest knowledge necessary for their work with the world’s best cyclists.
Open to any DS working with a UCI WorldTeam, UCI Professional Continental Team or UCI Women’s Team, the four-day course in Aigle, Switzerland, drew participants from 19 countries and five continents.
UCI Experts, Commissaires and staff addressed the group on a wide range of subjects that will enable them to enhance their skills already acquired out in the field. These included team management, race security, rider conduct, anti-doping, equipment and technical regulations.
The course ended Thursday with a two-hour exam leading to the official UCI DS certification.
Transition from athlete to Sport Director
The UCI World Cycling Centre’s education programme encourages athlete transition, and participants on the latest course included former professional cyclists such as two-time road race UCI World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, who retired from competition this year. She was one of five women on the course who benefitted from a UCI scholarship to attend.
A recognised leader within the peloton, the Italian athlete-turned-DS said she nevertheless learned a lot during her week at the UCI World Cycling Centre, particularly concerning regulations, be it concerning athlete contracts, bike checks, team jersey design or other.
“Obviously, as an athlete you have an idea, but you rely on team staff for a lot.”
However, Bronzini recognises that the role of DS is much broader than being up to date with the rules and regulations: “I think Sport Directors need a real mixture of qualities. They are psychologically important for the riders. I had a lot of different Sport Directors during my career and I certainly did a better job on my bike if I had a good DS.
“Organisation is really important. A DS needs to come to the race prepared and know the schedule so that the rider does not have to deal with any extra stress.”
Next season, Bronzini will be a DS for new UCI Women’s Team Trek-Segafredo alongside another former pro athlete Ina Teutenberg (Germany), who was also on this week’s course.
“I was never Ina’s team-mate, but I always had my eyes on her,” explains Bronzini. “Just watching her raised my level.”
She also looks up to one of her former Sport Directors Donna Rae-Szalinski who was able to “take a lot of stress off our shoulders and help us get over difficult moments. She was part of the team.”
Giorgia Bronzini’s retirement from high-level racing has in no was dampened her competitive and ambitious spirit. Asked what she was looking forward to most in her new role as a Sport Director, her response was delivered immediately and with a mischievous grin: