July 04, 2013: Brian Cookson has reaffirmed his commitment to women’s cycling should his bid to become the next President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) prove successful in September.
In his manifesto, ‘Restoring Trust, Leading Change’ launched last month, Cookson revealed his plan to develop women’s cycling worldwide, and has reiterated his commitment after returning from the Tour de France to witness the opening of the Women’s National Road Series in Otley, Yorkshire yesterday. It was the first time that a women’s race has been held at the popular Otley Cycle Races in its 28 year history and is testament to British Cycling’s recently introduced strategy to get one million more women cycling by 2020.
Cookson said: “It was fantastic to see so many female riders compete in Otley. British Cycling is working hard to develop women’s racing in Great Britain in a way that provides the sport with a solid, self-sufficient platform from which to develop. This is about bringing wholesale change to the calendar and embedding women’s cycling in everything we do as an organisation. It is important to recognise that initiatives such as this are not one-sided and can bring huge advantages to both the organisation and the sport.
“Increasing the number of events on the race calendar and having men’s and women’s major events running alongside each other provides a wider platform for promoting high-level domestic racing, and better leverage when it comes to negotiating with broadcast companies, sponsors and promoters alike. More coverage for the event brings wider exposure to women’s cycling and in turn better prospects for the future.”
The winner of the Women’s Road Series in Otley, junior world champion Elinor Barker, is further evidence of the development, and investment British Cycling has committed to producing talented women riders in recent years. Cookson believes this is a model which can be replicated globally, with greater support provided by the UCI to rider development through World Cycling Centres.
“It is clear to me that equality should exist between young female riders and their male counterparts and the UCI must to do more to provide greater opportunities for female riders to progress. It’s no secret that women’s cycling is the poor relation of the men’s sport, but in Britain we are starting to see the first signs of a recovery and although there is a long way to go, I’m very optimistic that the principles introduced are relevant to a wider, global audience via the UCI.”
If elected UCI President, Cookson has committed to creating a women’s cycling commission, appoint at least one woman on every UCI Commission, create new events for women riders and guarantee a minimum wage for women pro road riders with modern terms of employment. —- By Will Shand