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Brian Cookson reveals plans to set up UCI Women’s WorldTour team

Former UCI president seeking backers for project, which could begin racing in 2019

Brian Cookson, beaten by David Lappartient in September in his bid to secure a second term as president of the UCI, has outlined plans to set up a UCI Women’s WorldTour team.

The 66-year-old, who said in a statement published on his website yesterday that he was “not quite ready to disappear altogether from the world of cycling” says preliminary discussions have been held with potential backers and partners of the team, which could start racing in the 2019 season.

He added that ultimately, a men’s under-23 development team as well as a men’s WorldTour outfit could be added to the structure – something he said would “reverse the usual process” which has seen a number of male teams, such as Lotto-Belisol and Team Sunweb, set up female equivalents.

Cookson, who succeeded Pat McQuaid to cycling’s top job in 2017, said that the proposed Women’s WorldTour team would “meet or exceed the new high standards that are likely to be put in place by the UCI for the new two-tier structure for Women’s Teams that was developed during my term as UCI President.

“I am not just talking about a top-level team in the traditional sense,” he said. “There has never been so much interest in women’s sport, fitness and health generally, and this is clearly reflected in the interest in women’s cycling, not just at the elite level, but in terms of general participation.

“It seems to me that we are at a moment of real opportunity for women’s cycling. We are at a pivotal point, a sea-change in attitude towards women’s sport in the media and amongst the public is taking place, and we should seize this opportunity.

He said he believed that companies associating their brand with elite cycling and thereby encourage women around the globe to take it up, whether as a sport or a pastime, “could benefit tremendously.”

He envisages the team being registered in Great Britain, but with riders drawn from around the world, with Women’s WorldTour events expanding to 23 in number next season, mostly in Europe but with two in China and one in the United States.

Underlining that the project is in its infancy, Cookson said: “I am putting this idea out there because I want to stimulate the decision-makers in those companies, many of whom (men and women) enjoy cycling themselves, to start to think about the possibilities.

“The potential return on their investment could be very substantial, but I want to make it clear that it will need innovation, creativity, and a major effort from their side to make that happen.

“I am not looking for a company to simply underwrite the team, I am looking for partners who want to invest in an initiative that will make a real difference to people’s lives, potentially right around the world.”

He continued: “I envisage bringing together, with a title sponsor, a unique combination of equipment and clothing manufacturers, universities and health organisations, vehicle and logistics suppliers, all of the necessary partners to make this the most successful, most effective and most popular team in the world.

“It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the team will have the highest ethical standards, too, in every respect.”

Acknowledging that currently “there is no budget and no funding” for the project, Cookson said: “At this stage, I’m not looking for people who are looking for a job, or a place on the team – all that will come later.

“Here and now, I am interested in talking to companies who might want to share this vision and help me make it happen.”

Cookson also said that he plans on “writing a book about my lifetime of experiences in the sport.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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10 comments

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Simon E | 6 years ago
2 likes

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Avatar
davel replied to Simon E | 6 years ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Nah, damned if he only talks about the stuff it might be a good idea to do. He never 'does', so we wouldn't know.

Avatar
shufflingb replied to davel | 6 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

Nah, damned if he only talks about the stuff it might be a good idea to do. He never 'does', so we wouldn't know.

Without a time machine, direct personal experience or any other evidence, I would imagine most peoples' expectation would be that when someone with both credibility and a large personal network in a given field issues a call to action, then there's a reasonable chance that it, or something like it, might happen. 

For instance, it would seem to me that Mr Cookson, former president of the UCI,  is both credible and having run for for office, will have a large network of contacts in the cycling world.  I can't be sure without the time machine, but I would think he has a reasonable chance of making what sounds like an interesting idea happen.

Meanwhile, with no other backing evidence, if I was to say that I'm going to form a Women's Cycling team, it'd almost certainly get rightly ignored. Equally, if I was to opine that such an idea raised by someone with far more crediblility than me was doomed then folks might well  ...

Avatar
davel replied to shufflingb | 6 years ago
0 likes

You don't need a time machine: just look up what little he actually accomplished in 4 years at the UCI, and how a governance structure that he (should have) imposed at BC collapsed into bullying and sexism claims.

He's a flapping head, and nothing more.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo | 6 years ago
2 likes

No rush, eh.  If only he'd had a job where he could have made a meaningful difference to women's cycling!

Avatar
davel | 6 years ago
3 likes

Thank god for this.

The world's seemed a pretty bleak place, today. Another mass shooting in the US, typical response from The Trumpet; everyone from Queenie to Mrs Brown's Boys is offshoring; but never fear: here's Captain Dynamic about to cure sexism via the special power of Talking About Stuff He Intends To Do One Day.

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Valbrona replied to davel | 6 years ago
0 likes
davel wrote:

: here's Captain Dynamic about to cure sexism via the special power of Talking About Stuff He Intends To Do One Day.

So it is sexist that there isn't a World Tour for women? And it is sexist that there aren't womens versions of all of the mens races? And it is sexist that female pro's don't get paid the same as male pro's?  And it is sexist that saddle manufacturers make more women's models than men's models? And it is sexist that  you can get mens cycling shoes in more colour-options than you can womens cycling shoes?

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janusz0 replied to davel | 6 years ago
3 likes
davel wrote:

Thank god for this.

The world's seemed a pretty bleak place, today. Another mass shooting in the US, typical response from The Trumpet; everyone from Queenie to Mrs Brown's Boys is offshoring; but never fear: here's Captain Dynamic about to cure sexism via the special power of Talking About Stuff He Intends To Do One Day.

I would be happy to upvote this if it wasn't for the sarcastic "but ...".

I'd like to see more women riding bikes. That's more _people_ on bikes - what's not to like? This is the zeitgeist that he's talking about.
I'd like to see the same health benefits spreading to more women.
I'd like more women to embrace the camaraderie of cycling.
I'm not very interested in sports spectating, but I enjoyed watching the UK Women's Tour, from the roadside as much as I've enjoyed the TdF. So go for it Brian.

Avatar
davel replied to janusz0 | 6 years ago
1 like
janusz0 wrote:
davel wrote:

Thank god for this.

The world's seemed a pretty bleak place, today. Another mass shooting in the US, typical response from The Trumpet; everyone from Queenie to Mrs Brown's Boys is offshoring; but never fear: here's Captain Dynamic about to cure sexism via the special power of Talking About Stuff He Intends To Do One Day.

I would be happy to upvote this if it wasn't for the sarcastic "but ...".

I'd like to see more women riding bikes. That's more _people_ on bikes - what's not to like? This is the zeitgeist that he's talking about.
I'd like to see the same health benefits spreading to more women.
I'd like more women to embrace the camaraderie of cycling.
I'm not very interested in sports spectating, but I enjoyed watching the UK Women's Tour, from the roadside as much as I've enjoyed the TdF. So go for it Brian.

Yeah, all of it is sarcastic following the 'but'.

His heart is in the right place, bless him, and he talks a damn good fight; it's the doing the actual fighting that needs some work. It's exactly the 'going for it, Brian' that he seems to struggle with. His idea above is a load of hot air, that he's just 'throwing out there' on his Website. I'll have an internet bet with you now that it doesn't progress beyond puffing his blog up.

Still, he's a young Turk with time on his side; he'll get there in the end.

Avatar
Valbrona | 6 years ago
1 like

He must be after a gong.

Spare us the book, Brian.

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