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UCI World Cycling Centre: New wave of Sport Directors complete Diploma course

Ana Vivas (left) completed the 2016 Sport Directors course at the UCI World Cycling Centre
Ana Vivas (left) completed the 2016 Sport Directors course at the UCI World Cycling Centre

Forty-one men and women from 20 countries have just completed a course for Sport Directors at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.

Depending on their previous experience, the participants attended a three-and-a-half-day or eight-day course to prepare them for the final exam that arms them with the qualification necessary to work as a Sport Director. This UCI Sport Director Diploma is compulsory for anyone exercising the profession with a UCI WorldTeam and open to everyone working as a Sport Director across all divisions of cycling.

From team audits, to the sporting control of road races, anti-doping, equipment, leadership and driving in races, the topics covered on the course equip Sport Directors with the necessary knowledge and skill to carry out their work professionally and efficiently.

Scholarships for women

For the second year running, the UCI WCC offered scholarships to women wishing to become UCI certified Sport Directors. Ana Vivas, of Colombia, and Charline Joiner, of Great Britain, were among the eight women to benefit from this scholarship. Their backgrounds could not be more different.

Charline is only a few months into retirement from Elite cycling. Winner of multiple Scottish titles and two-times Commonwealth Games competitor (with a silver medal in the team sprint in 2010) she decided the time was right to take up a new challenge.

She currently works as a personal trainer and coach – one of her athletes is none-other than former UCI Hour Record holder Alex Dowsett – but she does not want to stop there.

“I have been under good Sport Directors and bad ones so I know how important the job is.”

“My dream is to start a women’s team or help a team grow,” she says. “I don’t want to jump into anything prematurely but by 2018 I would like to direct a team.

“This course has been amazing. We have learned so much, even things that as riders we didn’t know. It’s a lot of information and I don’t think I have ever been so tired, even riding a stage race! But it is all so important. It’s a question of making people more aware of the rules and regulations. We are the new generation of Sport Directors who will be able to say, ‘well no, actually you cannot do that’."

With no practical cycling background, Ana Vivas started working at the Federación Colombiana de Ciclismo as a specialist in communications and new media. Her command of English soon saw her doing a great deal more: she became the Federation’s contact person for the UCI, was dealing with all the logistics for the national team, organising international events, and learning the UCI Regulations so she could explain them to the riders. To her, the athletes, including Nairo Quintana, are part of the family.

“In Colombia the cyclists are getting better and better, so we should get better too.

"I work with the future, and I work with people’s dreams so I need to be the best possible person I can."

“I am not a sports person but more of a book person. I know the regulations very well but I have a lot to learn from other people on this course who have so many stories to tell of their racing careers. It is amazing when you think about it. We have all come here (to the UCI World Cycling Centre) from the world over because of cycling.

You could say that cycling is the new future of humanity!”