Hobby races growing immensely, UCI announces amateur Worlds
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hobby races growing immensely, UCI announces amateur Worlds

by Bjorn Haake at 4:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: General, World Championships
 
Cycling body to build on increasing numbers of unlicensed racers

Several high-profile hobby races have announced their registration openings for the 2011 events in the last couple of weeks and this year's L'Etape du Tour offers two rides . The International Cycling Union wants to build on the popularity of these events and announced its own race series, the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT). Worldwide qualifiers are held to eventually crown age group World Champions at the end of the season.

There will be a total of 15 qualifier events world-wide to lead to the UWCT final, the former UCI Masters Road World Championships. For each age group, the best ten percent of the qualifiers are invited to the season's final, competing for UCI rainbow jersey.

Andrea Marcellini Mendonça is the coordinator for the UCI's Cycling for All, Masters and Sustainable Development. For her, the base is the most important part of the cycle racing scene. "If we look at cycling as a pyramid, professional racing is at the very top and occupies a very small portion. Everything that comes below this is the amateur side of the sport and involves impressive numbers of riders."

Mendonça may be on to something, as fields in the hobby races that often accompany professional races have been growing impressively over the years. The Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany, is now one of the top notch professional races. It started as the HEW Cyclassics in 1996. Amateur racers did the same 160km route as the professionals. The fields have grown from 2,521 in 1996 to around 22,000 in 2010.

Mendonça is certain that UCI sanctioned events will be just as popular. "These enthusiasts are part of the UCI family and it's time for them to race for a World Champion title". All races on the UWCT calendar must meet strict organizational and sporting criteria, and provide a certain touristic interest.

Especially in Germany, these accompanying races are quite popular, giving amateurs the chance to compete in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators. At the 2010 Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt, almost 4,000 amateurs raced on a wet course in rainy conditions.

The Rund um Köln Challenge has opened its registrations on November 11, 11:11 - timing it with the official opening of the carnival season. "Rad am Ring" has also already opened registration last week. The event is held on the Formula 1 circuit of the Nürburgring in the 24-hour format. It is suited to individuals as well as teams and this year over 4,000 racers participated.

"Rad am Ring" also offers traditional races on the 22km-course that has a 500m altitude gain per lap. Races over 25km, 75km and 150km are offered. Events on such race courses are quite popular, as the Sea Otter Classic - held on the Laguna Seca race track - can testify. It also draws thousands of spectators and racers each year.

It is fitting for the UCI to offer a race series that crowns a world champion. This can further boost future talents and get more people interested in the sport.

In order to host the qualifier events of the UWCT, the UCI is currently receiving applications from regions willing to organize a high standard cycling event that will attract riders from all over the world.

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