The first-ever female UCI vice-president Tracey Gaudry, has established her intention to “put women’s cycling in the position it deserves”, six weeks after being appointed.
In an interview posted on the UCI website, Mrs Gaudry outlined her plans to improve the state of women’s cycling at every level with the help of her Women’s Cycling Committee (WCC) which she aims to have set up by the end of the year.
“In order to develop women’s cycling it needs, among other things, better visibility,” Mrs Gaudry said. “The rise of women’s cycling must involve everybody.”
Involving everybody, according to the UCI vice-president, starts with improving the environment for young cyclists. Mrs Gaudry believes that her WCC's vision must draw on the experiences of initiatives like the World Cycling Centre's programme for women coaches to address the gender imbalance within cycling which she suggests is a "dissuasive" factor for young women looking to get into the sport.
“For a young woman wanting to get into a cycling career, a male dominated environment can appear for some, let’s say, ‘dissuasive’. This stumbling block can be overcome if women are part of the entourage: coaches, doctors, mechanics etc.
“The [World Cycling Centre] programme for women coaches encourages [a] sharing of knowledge. It also helps to provide women cyclists with career pathways beyond their career as an athlete. This type of initiative, which helps structure the environment of women’s cycling, will help us establish the vision that our sport needs in order to look to the future with confidence.”
And the UCI have shown that they are looking forward with confidence in women’s cycling. Mrs Gaudry highlighted the UCI's decision to appoint a woman in each of their commissions as a huge showing of support, as well as president Brian Cookson’s abolishment of the age cap, which prevented teams from breaching an average age of 28 within their competitive squads.
“I was a cyclist and I know from experience that you can still achieve great things over a wide age range. Marianne Vos, who is a member of the Athletes’ Commission, proposed that this regulation made no sense. It is a simple proposal that received unanimous support.”
The UCI are not only looking to improve the state of women’s cycling for the younger and older riders, they are also targeting the UCI Women’s Road World Cup for improvements in competitive cycling. New classifications for the best young rider, sprinter and climber will be introduced to the competition in 2014.
“It is a decision that will motivate the riders as well as the organisers, sponsors, broadcasters and public.” Mrs Gaudry said. “It will provide multiple competitions within a competition like in a stage race. The calendar will be more exciting for everyone.
“We will have 8 World Cup rounds that will provide opportunities throughout the season for many styles of rider.
"I’m only sorry that I don’t race anymore.”