UCI pushing to have cyclo-cross included in Winter Olympics

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will push to have cyclo-cross included in the Winter Olympics. Today, President Brian Cookson said that he will debate for its inclusion.

“I believe that cyclo-cross – which takes place during the northern hemisphere winter – would be an exciting addition to the Winter Games,” Cookson said in a press release.

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Cookson recently attended the ‘cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. Czech rider Zdenek Stybar and home rider, Marianne Vos won the elite titles. The weather was cold and grey but not snowy, which is a problem.

The main stumbling block to keep cyclo-cross races out of the Olympics is the weather. Rule six of the Olympic Charter says that only sports practiced on snow or ice may be considered.

Stybar also races on the road in Omega Pharma-QuickStep with Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen. He said at the team camp that if cyclo-cross was in the Olympics it would gain more attention and allow for more opportunities. He added, “It’s a good idea.”

Cookson believes so as well. He noted how International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach said at a meeting this week at the Sochi Winter Games that he wants to “modernise” the Olympic Sports Programme.

“President Bach has signalled his appetite for change,” said Cookson. “So I look forward to a debate about whether cyclo-cross, and indeed other sports practiced in the winter season, should be part of the Winter Olympic Games.”

In Europe, elite cyclists compete in the World Cups and Superprestige competitions. The sport draws also draws many fans and participants at every level in Great Britain and in the US. Responding to the popularity, for the first time the UCI hosted the World Championships overseas in Kentucky last year.

“Cyclo-cross requires endurance, explosive power and incredible bike handling skills. Many youngsters wishing to take up cycling pass through the school of cyclo-cross, and the breathtaking performances of the junior athletes at the recent UCI World Championships in Hoogerheide clearly demonstrated the depth of young talent around the globe.

“Athletes representing 23 countries and five continents competed in the 2014 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships last weekend. Two nations – Macedonia and Serbia – sent athletes to the Worlds for the first time.”

Cookson added that it would offer equal medal opportunities for men and women, and that related costs are minimal. “Above all,” he said, “[it] reaches out to an incredibly wide cross-section of the population.” He just now has to convince the Olympic Committee to bend rule number six.