The International Cycling Union (UCI) has signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding with online training and racing platform Zwift, through which it will develop cycling esports and hold a first-ever World Championships in the discipline.
Cycling esports was integrated into the UCI Constitution last September and the UCI’s MoU with Zwift is designed to establish requirements that ensure the discipline meets integrity and fairness standards, as well as launching the inaugural UCI Cycling Esports World Championships in 2020.
Through the agreement, a hardware programme will be established and used in UCI-sanctioned events. A performance-verification programme that will validate a rider’s performance and ward against technological fraud will also launch, along with a rider-identification system with information on height and weight.
A number of different formats of cycling esports racing, for individuals and teams, will be tested, with UCI regulations to be updated accordingly.
The 2020 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will be organised on the Zwift platform, with a date and venue to be confirmed. The UCI has agreed with Zwift that a maximum of 15 National Championships will be organised in select countries, along with continental championships, which will act as qualifiers for the World Championships.
Following the inaugural World Championships, the UCI will launch a bidding process to determine the provider it will work with for the event post-2020.
Zwift is an official supplier to the UCI’s ongoing Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
UCI president David Lappartient said: “Cycling esports is a fantastic opportunity for the development of cycling. It is a new way of practising cycling that is expanding rapidly and enables more athletes, whether beginners or more experienced, to train and race regardless of what the weather is like and where they live. The Memorandum of Understanding between our federation and Zwift is a decisive step towards the total integration of cycling esports by the UCI.”
Zwift’s esports chief executive Craig Edmondson added: “Earlier this year, we stated our ambition to develop an esports platform, but I think it’s much more than that. We are looking to establish a new approach to the sport. This partnership is a significant leap forward in that journey. We are at the very beginning of a long and exciting roadmap here at Zwift as we look to establish a new and innovative cycling discipline.”
Meanwhile, the UCI has extended its partnership with Italian adhesive and chemical products manufacturer Mapei. The new three-year deal will run from 2020 to 2022.
Mapei will serve as the main partner for the next three editions of the UCI Road World Championships in Aigle-Martigny, Switzerland; Flanders, Belgium; and Wollongong, Australia.
Mapei has been a partner of the UCI since 2008 and this year’s Road World Championships mark the 11th anniversary of the two parties’ collaboration. Mapei also sponsored a top-tier UCI team during the 1990s.