The International Cycling Union (UCI) has hailed the award of its 2017 Para-cycling Track World Championships to Los Angeles as signifying “notable progress” for the discipline, however the timing of the event has been met with criticism from athletes.
Los Angeles will host the Championships from March 2-5 at the VELO Sports Center in Carson. It is the first time in the history of para-cycling that there will be a Track World Championships the season following the Paralympic Games.
Continuing a tradition inherited from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the UCI, in charge of the discipline since 2007, did not organise the Para-cycling Track World Championships the seasons following the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games.
Following Los Angeles 2017, the UCI said it would like the Para-cycling Track World Championships to take place every year, as is the case with other cycling disciplines.
UCI president Brian Cookson said: “We are conscious that the award of this event comes late in the season for the athletes, teams and parties implicated in the organisation of the event. However, we believe that holding these UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships for the first time ever in a post-Paralympic season signifies notable progress and will enable our athletes to benefit from an enriched calendar as the discipline continues to develop.”
A week prior to the 2017 Track Para-cycling World Championships, on February 25-26, Carson’s VELO Sports Center will welcome the fourth and final round of the 2016-17 Track World Cup. The UCI said the proximity of the two events will allow national federations to limit their travelling costs.
However, with under two months remaining until the event, the scheduling of the Championships has been criticised with many athletes having yet to return to serious training following Rio 2016.
British athlete Jody Cundy (pictured), who won two para-cycling gold medals at Rio 2016, said on Twitter: “I’m all up for racing and new events, but a full blown world champs with 7weeks notice. Seriously what a joke UCI-cycling UCI-paracycling.”