The meeting was attended by the UCI president, Brian Cookson, who prides himself as a regular "sportive" rider, said Gran Fondos have “huge potential” to bring more people into the sport. Moreover, Cookson said, “the Mass Participation Commission will be central to the UCI’s desire to help drive the development of non-elite and amateur cycling, and growing the number and reach of mass participation events will be central to this aim.”
Over the years, Gran Fondos have seen a boom in popularity across Europe and North America, to include the recent addition of a Jerusalem event.
This month marked a significant development in the UCI’s activities as the newly created Mass Participation Commission met for the very first time at the UCI’s office in Aigle, Switzerland. The seven member commission, which is headed by Italian Cycling Federation President Renato di Rocco, met over two days to plan its long term strategy and work.
In a sign of the importance attached to this Commission and in developing mass participation events globally, the Mass Participation Commission meetings were attended by UCI President Brian Cookson and Director General Martin Gibbs. Following the two day session, Brian Cookson said:
“The Mass Participation Commission will be central to the UCI’s desire to help drive the development of non-elite and amateur cycling, and growing the number and reach of mass participation events will be central to this aim. I was delighted to see the energy and commitment of the Commission in its first meeting and it confirmed to me that mass participation events have huge potential.
“With more leisure time and an increasing desire by governments and individuals to improve health, there is a real opportunity to significantly grow mass participation events across all territories. I regularly ride mass participation events and I want the UCI to help bring the pleasure they give to more and more people, whatever their age or cycling standard.”
Mass participation events are booming in many parts of the world. For example RideLondon attracted more than 25,000 participants in its first edition in 2013, and shows the appeal of such events and the impact they can have to help introduce participants of all ages and levels into cycling. Last year also saw participants from 38 nations take part in the Final of the 2013 World Cycling Tour (UWCT), the UCI series for amateur riders.
Another sign of the growing popularity of mass participation events is the increasing number of Elite races that have a mass participation event linked to them. This is the case, for example, of the recent Liège-Bastogne-Liège Challenge which attracted thousands of participants, including the UCI President.
The UCI Management Committee will consider a number of recommendations from the Mass Participation Commission when it next meets in Lausanne on June 12 and 13. Further updates will be provided following that meeting.
The Mass Participation Commission comprises:
Renato di Rocco (ITA) Trevor Bailey (VIN) Andy Cook (GBR) Jon Leighton (AUS) Ricardo Nogare (BRA) Tone Lien (NOR) Gianluca Santilli (ITA)
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