Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, is offering a limited number of scholarships to women registering for the upcoming directeur sportif (DS) training courses in a bid to boost the number of women in the managerial side of the sport.
The training programme, launched in 2010, has reportedly seen very few women in attendance and many of the DS’s in women’s cycling appear to be male.
“When you call a Sport Directors’ meeting at a women’s event, you still see a majority of men in that meeting,” said women’s cycling coordinator Andrea Marcellini. “We want to provide women with the opportunity to stay in their sport on retiring from competition.”
The UCI says priority will be given to those women with experience of racing or being a DS, but the scholarship programme is open to any women wanting to apply.
But pro rider and member of the UCI Athlete’s Commission Iris Slappendel says that being a professional rider doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be a successful DS.
“A lot of Sports Directors are ‘just’ ex-professionals who are stepping straight from their riding career into a team car,” she said. “From my experience, being a good DS requires more skills than only having experience as a rider.”
She added: “I am happy to see more and more women riders who stay involved in cycling. The sport is definitely becoming less male dominated, and women have to see that they can also use their experience and skills to manage a team or become a DS.
“Maybe the offer of a scholarship will be an eye-opener for riders who are retired or thinking about retiring. There are some good potential Sport Directors racing at the moment! I have had good experiences myself with a female DS and it would be great if there were some more around.”
The 2015 DS training course will be held between November 10 and 17 at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. Information on how to apply for the scholarship can be found on the UCI website.