The UCI constantly works to maximise cyclingâ€™s positive impact in all regions of the world. Be it helping talented athletes from disadvantaged countries pierce into Elite level, or simply getting young kids onto bikes, the UCI takes its development role extremely seriously.
â€śIn a world where there is conflict, injustice and poverty, we are more than ever in need of something that unites the population,â€ť observes UCI President Brian Cookson. â€śAs one of the worldâ€™s most accessible sports, cycling has an important role to play in this domain. We canâ€™t change the world, but with our actions, initiatives and commitment, we can go a long way to helping a great many people.â€ť
â€śCycling changed my life and I want to change the life of others.â€ť
Some of cyclingâ€™s poignant stories come directly from the UCIâ€™s affiliated National Federations. Take the example of the young President of the Lesotho Cycling Federation, Tumisang (Tumi) Taabe who travels hundreds of kilometres to deliver bikes to needy school children and orphans. Read Tumisang Taabeâ€™s story.
â€śSport is a factor that brings people together...â€ť
The national tour of the CĂ´te dâ€™Ivoire disappeared in 1998 as the country was plunged into a social, political and economic crisis. End of story? It could have been but for the motivation and determination of the National Cycling Federationâ€™s President Yao Allah-Kouame, who re-launched the race in 2012 under a new name: The Tour de CĂ´te dâ€™Ivoire â€“ Tour de la RĂ©conciliation. In 2014 this event joins the UCI Africa Tour.
UCI Sharing Platform for National Federations
Stories such as these are numerous and have been highlighted thanks to the UCI Sharing Platforms, launched last year. Held on each continent, these USP seminars enable Federations to share their success stories, hear about new practices that have worked for other Federations, and establish a network that will enable them to call on each other in the future. Last year USPs were held for Europe (in Geneva, Switzerland) and for Africa (in Egypt, Africa). Next month they will be held for America in Puebla (Mexico) and for the Asian continent in Astana (Kazakhstan).
Donations of equipment
The UCI is behind two initiatives providing bikes to cyclists who do not have access to a equipment worthy of their talent:
UCI ProTeam Solidarity is organised, as its name indicates, by the UCI, teams in the first division, and manufacturers of their bikes. At the end of each season, teams donate some of their bikes to cyclingâ€™s emerging countries. This has already had encouraging stories, such as the two Rwandans, Emmanuel Rudahunga and Joseph Biziyarenye who last year each won a stage of the Tour du Congo on bikes donated through this scheme. It is a second life for UCI WorldTour bikes.
UCI Bikes for the World Look is a joint venture between the UCI, the World Cycling Centre and their partner Look. Since 2010 more than 200 bikes have been delivered from the WCC in Aigle, Switzerland, to countries trying to develop cycling.
World Cycling Centre developing our sport worldwide
Since opening its doors in 2002, the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, has trained more than 600 athletes from 118 countries. Most of these nations do not have the necessary resources to nurture their talented young cyclists. By providing them with equipment, professional coaches and a structured training programme, the WCC has helped them realise their full potential. Their achievements include 3 Olympic titles, 4 Olympic silver medals, 1 Olympic bronze medal, 32 World Championship titles, 18 World Championships silver medals and 9 World Championships bronze medals.
Three satellite centres on other continents act as feeders to the World Cycling Centre, training the continentâ€™s best athletes and sending the most promising to Switzerland. These centres in Yeongju City (South Korea), Shuzenji (Japan) and Potchesfstroom (South Africa) will be joined by other satellite centres in the future. The continental centres are a vital tool in worldwide development, and last year, the WCC â€śOut of Africaâ€ť project received a major Spirit of Sport award. The name says it all.
Photo: Cycling is contributing to development in Lesotho