Following his defeat in September, former UCI President Brian Cookson says he’s seeking to develop a women’s pro cycling team.
“After a number of weeks considering my future, I have decided that I am not quite ready to disappear altogether from the world of cycling,” Cookson said in his statement.
“Over the next few months, I am going to be exploring the possibilities of setting up a new professional cycling team structure,” he added. “My intention is that this should begin with the establishing of a UCI Women’s WorldTour Team for 2019 – a team that will meet or exceed the new high standards that are likely to be put in place by the UCI for the new two-tier structure for Women’s Teams that was developed during my term as UCI President.”
“I am not just talking about a top-level team in the traditional sense. There has never been so much interest in women’s sport, fitness and health generally, and this is clearly reflected in the interest in women’s cycling, not just at the elite level, but in terms of general participation. It seems to me that we are at a moment of real opportunity for women’s cycling. We are at a pivotal point, a sea-change in attitude towards women’s sport in the media and amongst the public is taking place, and we should seize this opportunity.”
Cookson is credited for creating the Women’s WorldTour during his tenure as president of cycling’s governing body, which saw women’s racing progress from the smaller women’s World Cup series and expand into a larger venue of world-class races, along with equal pay.
Cookson says his team will to be based in Great Britain, but he hopes to attract an international line-up of riders. He stressed that the plan is currently in its infancy, with the challenge of finding sponsors a key step.
“I am putting this idea out there because I want to stimulate the decision-makers in those companies, many of whom (men and women) enjoy cycling themselves, to start to think about the possibilities,” he said. “The potential return on their investment could be very substantial, but I want to make it clear that it will need innovation, creativity, and a major effort from their side to make that happen.”
In addition to developing a pro women’s team, Cookson has announced his plans to publish a book chronicling his experience as UCI president and his time in the sport.
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