Para-Cycling and the UCI - Colin Lynch's open letter

Dennis Grombkowski

It's a bit of a mystery to me why the UCI has got away with this, but to add to the many disasters of the last few years, they've also completely been ignoring a major part of their remit - Para-cycling, and specifically, track Para-cycling.

Apart from the Paralympics, there have been no international track Para-cycling events since the World Championships in February 2012, in Los Angeles, and there's only one on the calendar for 2013, the Newport International Cup (which is not a World Cup, and doesn't contribute to Paralympic qualification, so many nations aren't supporting riders to race there) - and there's nothing at all on the calendar for 2014, including no World Cups or World Championships. This contradict the UCI's own mission statement, which says

Involving disabled people

Paracycling has been fully integrated into the UCI as a discipline in its own right, and World Championships and a World Cup are organised every year.

Obviously, the Paracyclists are very unhappy about this, because how can they prepare for Rio 2016 without competitions? Riders who race road are a bit better off, but what about the track sprinters, how can they demonstrate they should be accessing funding or support, or even know how good they are? These are professional athletes who work and train and sacrifice just as able-bodied track riders do, with nowhere near the reward, support or recognition, and it's a total disgrace that the UCI can get away with ignoring them.

Colin Lynch, a Paracyclist who races on road and track, has written an open letter to the UCI explaining the issues far better than I ever could, including

There have been rumours of a Track Cycling World Championships in either March or November 2014, but the longer the uncertainty drags on, the harder it is for athletes to plan their winter training and race schedules for 2014. If the men's or women's Track (or Road) World Championships faced this level of uncertainty or apathy, there would be uproar in the cycling community. But in Paracycing it seems to be the status quo.
We realise that many of the issues surrounding hosting events comes down to money. However, I am calling up the UCI to reassess their financial requirements for race organisers in the next few years, waving fees if necessary, in order to help fulfil their promise and grow the sport as is needed. London 2012 should have shown the level of support that is available from the fans, given the chance.
There are a wide range of issue in Paracycling that we would like to address but we lack the opportunity. The latest Athletes Commission meeting was shelved and our representative is now unable to pass along any of our comments. We are left to talk amongst ourselves as our frustration grows. The total lack of communication from the UCI regarding events is incredibly upsetting.

Please do click through and read the whole thing, and talk about it on social media, and if you are a member of a cycling Federation, contact your Fed to ask them what they are doing to support track Para-cyclists. If there are competition-level velodromes in your country, why aren't the Fed hosting a World Cup or World Champs, and what are they doing to challenge the UCI on this issue and advocate for their Para-cyclist members?

If you're in or near the UK, and want to show your support to Para-cyclists in a different way, why not come to Newport on 29th November - 1st December and watch the Cup? Remember how great the track cycling was in london last summer? This is the only chance to cheer for those superstars currently on the calendar. Day sessions are free and evening sessions just £5, and while it's a (cheap) taxi from the station to the velodrome, Newport is very close to Cardiff and Bristol, and very easy to get to from London and the North- and South-West of England. Tickets and details are here.

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