The 189th annual Congress of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) was held today in an entirely virtual format for the first time in its history due to the restrictions necessitated by the current world health situation (Covid-19 pandemic). Delegates from 115 National Federations affiliated to the UCI participated in the event.

The UCI President David Lappartient gave a review of the 2020 cycling year which was severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic that continues today. In his speech, he recalled that the UCI had been able to show leadership and act very quickly, in close collaboration with all stakeholders united in this difficult context. Thanks to the implementation of strict health protocols and to the creation of new revised calendars, the principal UCI World Championships – for road cycling and mountain bike, organised respectively in Imola, Emilia Romagna (Italy), and in Leogang (Austria) – were able to take place. Similarly, the UCI and its partners managed to set up the 2020 UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour in good conditions. The staging of these events is an exception in a sporting world hard hit by the novel coronavirus. The UCI President was particularly pleased by the success of the 2020 UCI Road World Championships, especially in terms of TV audiences and social media followers. He highlighted the presence of the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach at the UCI Worlds. Moreover, the IOC President recorded a video message for the Congress to congratulate the UCI and cycling families on the success of the event and for their ability to organise competitions in an extremely complicated international health context while protecting the health of all people involved.

David Lappartient also made a point of presenting to participants of Congress numerous projects which continued to develop or were achieved in 2020, such as the first-ever UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, which will take place in December.

A new member joined the UCI at its 2020 Congress, which voted in favour of the affiliation of the National Federation of Palestine. This brings the number of UCI member National Federations to 197. The goal is to reach 200 by the end of David Lappartient’s first mandate as President of the UCI, as outlined in the Federation’s Agenda 2022. Moreover, the UCI Congress decided to exclude the Cycling Federation of Chile, the Bulgarian Cycling Union and the Cycling Association of Montenegro for serious violations of their obligations pursuant to the UCI Constitution, in particular concerning governance and financial obligations. Three new Federations were then affiliated for these three countries: the National Federation of Chile, the National Federation of Bulgaria and the National Federation of Montenegro.

Congress approved the UCI Annual Report for 2019 which includes the audited consolidated financial statements showing that the UCI and UCI World Cycling Centre’s reserves at the end of 2019 stood at more than 40 million Swiss Francs. Congress also approved the budget for 2021 and an updated forecast for 2020. The UCI’s 4-year financial plan was presented to Congress with a contingent scenario should the Tokyo Olympics not take place next year. In the latter scenario, the UCI expects to maintain its reserves in excess of 20 million Swiss Francs through to the Paris 2024 games.

In the context of cycling’s ongoing modernisation and to ensure our sport’s position at the forefront of the sporting world, UCI Congress welcomed the Federation’s appointment of Michael Rogers as Innovation Manager. He will join the UCI Sports Department on November 15 and will be in charge, among others, of developing cycling esports, managing projects linked to new technologies in cycling events and the use of athletes’ in-race data. A professional rider from 2000 to 2016, specialising in road and track, the Australian was crowned UCI World Champion in the individual time trial three consecutive years (2003-2005). He also participated in the Tour de France 11 times and the Giro d’Italia on four occasions, finishing 9th the first time in 2006 and 6th for his second participation in 2009. Michael Rogers founded and was President and General Director of the cycling esports platform VirtuGO.

Congress participants were informed of the smooth transfer of the UCI’s anti-doping operational activities from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) to the International Testing Agency (ITA). This transfer will come into full effect on 1st January 2021. ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen gave a presentation to Congress participants.

At the end of Congress, the UCI President David Lappartient declared: “I would like to sincerely thank all the members of cycling’s families for their commitment, solidarity and unity throughout 2020 which was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Together, we managed to bring cycling to life when we could have feared that no competition would take place.

“Fortunately, the year was not limited to managing the crisis linked to the novel coronavirus, and we have made progress in numerous areas. On a sporting level, it was the first edition of the UCI Women’s WorldTour in its new format; the reform of track cycling was finalised and will come into effect in 2021; as for cyclo-cross, the first round of the new-look UCI World Cup will take place at the end of the month.

“Other sectors saw significant progress, not least ethics and governance. For example, we obtained EDGE certification, the leading global assessment and business certification for gender equality, and we have started to work on reinforcing the promotion of diversity, in line with efforts made via the UCI WCC. In addition, the report of the Ethics Commission, which was presented to the Federations ahead of Congress, demonstrates the scope of the Commission’s activities. Their work is now published by the UCI and confirms the importance of the Ethics Commission for the governance of our institution.”

The next major meeting for the Federation, the first UCI Management Committee meeting of 2021, should take place next 29 January in Ostend (Belgium) during the 2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.