UCI president David Lappartient has confirmed that world cycling’s governing body is working on introducing a gravel world championships.
The news follows a meeting earlier this month at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, between Lappartient and other UCI staff with Erioca founder Giancarlo Brocci at which the idea of a gravel racing world series was discussed.
The UCI president confirmed the governing body’s interest in the fast-growing discipline at a meeting with journalists at the Tour Down Under in South Australia, reports Andrew Hood of VeloNews.
Asked about the prospect of a gravel world championships, he said: “I think so, I think so. This is something that is under discussion and that is possible in the future.
“We had a meeting last week at the UCI, to discuss about this. You can see that it is very popular worldwide and it’s a huge potential.”
With many gravel races especially in the US operated independently of the UCI and relevant national governing body, there is potential for conflict with organisers, but Lappartient was keen to play that down.
He said: “The goal today is not to fight against anyone, but to bring everyone together. I think by joining all together, we are stronger.”
But he added: “We know that in some countries the rules are not the same. If you are US, the rules are not the same in other countries that you cannot organize a race without the federation. It’s always better to be under the umbrella.”
“You can see the fans of cycling love this,” he concluded. “We believe there is a potential opportunity for UCI, so I will not say too much today, but we are working on this at the UCI level because we believe there is a big future of this.”
The clear potential for crossover between road and gravel is demonstrated most clearly by the approach taken by EF Pro Cycling, which is this year continuing its alternative racing programme.
Last year, EF Pro Cycling rider Lachlan Morton won the inaugural GBDuro four-day bikepacking race, while team mate Alex Howes was third at the Dirty Kanza gravel bike race in Kansas.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.