In 2010, the UCI’s solidarity programme moved up a gear to become UCI Bikes for the World Look. Since then, the project has seen more than 200 bikes delivered from the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, to countries trying to develop cycling.
The bikes have been put to good use by talented young athletes who put a lot of energy and long hours into training but whose equipment is often not adapted to their needs. Some have had to train on borrowed or shared bikes, others on bikes that would have their counterparts in wealthier nations cringing.
Thanks to Bikes for the World, these athletes have been able to line up at continental and international competitions with equipment that will not see them disadvantaged from the outset.
“This project is one of the great sides to our work,” says WCC Master Mechanic Alex Roussel. “We all like doing this. It really means something to be able to send brand new bikes to help these riders.”
This joint venture with WCC partner and bike manufacturer Look sees the centre’s mechanics assemble brand new bikes using frames donated by Look and other components donated by WCC partners Mavic, Vittoria, Selle Italia and Shimano.
Last year, Bangladesh received 20 road bikes under this project: “We are trying to develop cycling at home and abroad,” explains the Federation’s General Secretary Mr Imtiaz Khan. Each December the national cycling championships, which will be held for the 37th time in 2013, attract some 250 cyclists representing 25 teams from various organisations, universities and district sports associations.
The President of Burundi’s National Federation Tharcisse Karimanzira said that the 10 road bikes received at the beginning of this year would “enable cyclists in Burundi to compete in different regional, African and international competitions and will raise their level.”
The St Lucia Cycling Association has also received 10 bikes this year as well as wheels and helmets. This donation from Bikes for the World will help the federation develop its performance and excellence programme for its Elite Squad and its Development Squad “to ensure that a lack of equipment will not hinder their progress.”
In her role of UCI Manager of Continental Confederation and National Federation Relations Dominique Raymond has seen firsthand some of the benefits gained by these donations: “A donation of two, six or ten bikes may not seem much, but it is always a big help to National Federations,” she says. “Meticulous care is usually taken of this equipment, which is reserved for their teams competing in national, continental and international competitions.”
Nations that have benefited from UCI Bikes for the World since 2010 are: St-Vincent & the Grenadines, Albania, Mongolia, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, Sao Tomé and Principe, Zambia, North Korea, Burkina Faso, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, Bolivia, Lebanon, Gabon, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Jordan, Republic of Moldova, Ethiopia, Burundi, Sierra Leone and St Lucia.
In parallel with Bikes for the World, the UCI oversees another initiative, “UCI ProTeam solidarity” which sees all UCI ProTeams donate six bikes at the end of each season. These are also sent to developing cycling nations. UCI ProTeams solidarity is a joint venture between the UCI, the UCI ProTeams and the cycle manufacturers who provide their bikes.