Three years ago, people laughed when Zwift CEO Eric Min talked about UCI or Olympic-sanctioned racing on Zwift. But who’s laughing now?

David Lappartient, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale UCI, has released his 18 months “progress report” which includes an interesting section for anyone involved in virtual cycling. Here is the e-cycling portion of his statement:

First of all e-cycling, which has seen huge growth in the last few years and is enjoyed by a growing cross-section of cyclists. A number of fun apps have been developed along with smart trainers, and people are taking up the sport in large numbers, attracted by the many advantages it has to offer. Enthusiasts of e-cycling can train and take part in races (some take place on routes used at previous UCI Road World Championships), in a very realistic manner and as part of a network, regardless of the weather outdoors. The UCI must support and promote this growing trend, which is why we have included e-cycling in our Regulations and are organising the first UCI e-cycling World Championships in 2020.

The key role the UCI plays in this area has been recognised through my appointment as head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) e-sports Liaison Group, which will facilitate communication between e-sports and the Olympic Movement.

Founded in 1900, the UCI is the world governing body for cycling. In their own words, the UCI

…represents, for sporting and public institutions alike, the interests of 194 National Federations, five Continental Confederations, more than 1,500 professional riders, more than half a million licensed competitors, several million cycling enthusiasts and two billion bicycle users all over the world.

Therefore, it’s exciting news when the UCI turns their attention toward Zwift, further legitimizing virtual bike racing as its own discipline.

It’s About Zwift

First, let’s be clear: Zwift is the only platform where this is happening. While the UCI wants to remain platform-agnostic, I don’t foresee races of any importance happening outside of Zwift anytime soon. All competitors are years behind Zwift and simply do not have the software, user base, or capabilities to make it a reality.

Additionally, we know Zwift has been talking with the UCI about “e-cycling” for months now. I’m sure ZwiftHQ will be working with the UCI to help advise on regulations and events in some manner.

Regulations

Lappartient states that the UCI has “included e-cycling in our Regulations”, but as far as I can tell there are no existing UCI regulations for e-cycling. Perhaps they are working on these regulations currently?

It will be interesting to watch as a set of rules is codified for e-cycling, because those rules will have to work with multiple software platforms, hardware devices, race formats, etc. No small task!

World Championships

This is exciting news: the UCI plans to hold the first-ever e-cycling Worlds Champs in 2020. Surely this competition will be held on Zwift: now that will be an exciting race!

Olympics

Eric Min has shared his dream of seeing e-racing at the Olympics, and the UCI looks to be interested in the same with Lappartient being appointed as head of the IOC’s e-sports Liaison Group. Can you imagine: Zwifting in the Olympics? What a time to be alive!

New Name Needed

Just tossing this note in: the UCI really needs to separate e-cycling from e-bikes. Lappartient writes about e-mountain biking, but this refers to mountain bikes with motors, not mountain bikes on a trainer competing in a virtual environment. Let’s separate our terms and reduce confusion, UCI!


Onward and upward. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months hold for Zwift racing!