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Volume 6 No. 216
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Hangin' With ... International Cycling Union Vice President Tracey Gaudry

TRACEY GAUDRY joined the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) as VP in September and is the first woman to hold the role. Gaudry is a former elite cyclist, having competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and is CEO of the cycling advocacy group the Amy Gillett Foundation. Gaudry spoke to SBD Global about her role at the UCI and her plans for increasing the profile of women’s cycling.

On her first order of business as UCI VP …
Gaudry: The first order of business has been supporting our new president, Brian Cookson, in implementing his manifesto that was part of his presidential candidacy. Literally, on day one we traveled together to the UCI headquarters to set the scene with the UCI -- that we were all part of one big team and that we’re working together for a stronger future for cycling. It was very much a personal approach with the team. Since then, my role as a vice president has been working with Brian and the director general in developing and implementing strategies for the way forward – covering quite clearly anti-doping, international development, international governance and particularly, with myself and my portfolio, the growth and development of women in cycling and the growth and development of participation in cycling globally.

On the significance of her role …
Gaudry: I represent progression of women in cycling in many ways. One, as a former elite cyclist, but two -- we can’t pretend otherwise, but I am the first female ever to be elected to the management committee, let alone to be elected as a vice president. So, these are things that we embrace. These are developments that we say, OK, this is the start of the next wave of development in cycling. Women’s cycling has been around for decades of course, but we’ve got a long way to go in terms of parity and representation. That’s the truth. So, I am the chair of the first ever Women’s Commission within the UCI. It’s something that I campaigned for since my appointment to the management committee in 2012. I’m excited that one of the first decisions under Cookson was to establish a women’s commission.

On women’s cycling …
Gaudry: The purpose of the Women’s Commission is to ride itself out of existence in a few years time and to say that we don’t need to overtly focus on development of women in cycling, because it’s already there. That’s what we want to achieve -- the development and opportunity and viability for women’s cycling. What we’ve already implemented this year was the TV broadcast of the whole of the Women’s Road World Cup series, which is nine events for the course of the summer calendar. That’s a step change that the UCI has directly invested in -- working with the premier women’s series in professional cycling. We’re already developing a strategy for the next three and a half years under Cookson’s leadership. One of the great developments that have come out of the increased focus and interest and support for the development of women and cycling through an existing major stakeholder in cycling is the ASO, who own and deliver the Tour de France. Their decision to introduce a women’s event [La Course] on the final day of the Tour de France shines the spotlight in no other way possible on how great women’s cycling is. It’s just a wonderful development, which the ASO have invested in.

On the possibility of a women’s Tour de France …
Gaudry: The first thing I would say is, without putting a damper on great ambition or great aspiration, let’s take one step at a time, or one pedal stroke at a time. There has been a women’s Tour de France in the past, and indeed, when I was racing through the mid '90s, I raced in the women’s equivalent of the Tour de France. And it was 16 days long with one rest day, as opposed to the men’s Tour de France, which is 23 days long with two rest days. So we know women are capable of great feats, great endurance and great racing. The introduction of the La Course is a step in the right direction. It’s about saying, let’s make an investment. Let’s demonstrate what cycling is capable of and how great women’s cycling is. And let’s work together, from now, for what the future can look like. … Cycling is one of the most intriguing, unique and spectacular sports in the world. It’s about bringing all of that to life while creating an environment where conditions for women’s cycling are improved.