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World cycling is getting bigger Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The independent State of Palestine was accepted as the latest member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for cycling.

The candidature of Palestine was accepted on the sidelines of the 189th annual Congress of the UCI that was held over the weekend in an entirely virtual format for the first time in its long history due to the restrictions necessitated by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Delegates from as many as 115 National Federations affiliated to the UCI participated in the event and were unanimous in ratifying the entry of the National Federation of Palestine while raising the of UCI members 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.

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.

However, three new federations were affiliated for these three countries, namely the National Federation of Chile, the National Federation of Bulgaria and the National Federation of Montenegro.

UCI President Lappartient was pleased with the way the world body was moving in the right direction. “I would like to thank all the members 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,” he remarled.

“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,” Lappartient assured.

One of the major decisions taken during the Congress was the appointment of Michael Rogers as Innovation Manager with the UCI starting from November 15. The move has been made in view of cycling’s ongoing modernisation and to ensure the sport’s position at the forefront of the sporting world.

In his new role, Rogers 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. Rogers founded and was President and General Director of the cycling esports platform, VirtuGO.

A professional rider from 2000 to 2016, specialising in road and track, Australian Rogers was crowned UCI World Champion in the individual time trial for three consecutive years (2003 to 2005). He also participated in the Tour de France 11 times and the Giro d’Italia on four occasions, finishing ninth the first time in 2006 and sixth for his second participation in 2009.

The next major meeting for the federation - the first UCI Management Committee meeting of 2021 – is scheduled to take place in Ostend, Belgium during the course of the 2021 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships at the end of January.