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UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson
UCI Presidential candidate supportive of expanded Oceania calendar
UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson has raised concerns over the plan being raised via a petition to have women race their own Tour de France.
Speaking to the Le Tour Prologue program in Australia in an interview set to air on Thursday evening, Cookson covered off a number of issues currently facing the sport of cycling including doping, truth and reconciliation, globalisation and the development of women's cycling.
Last week, Multi-discipline world champion Marianne Vos, former world champion Emma Pooley, world champion ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington and Kathryn Bertine published a letter to Amaury Sports Organisation and Tour director Christian Prudhomme with an accompanying petition outlining the reasons they believe that women should have an event running in conjunction with the men in what is the most recognisable cycling event in the world.
"We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men's event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender's race interferes with the other," the letter states.
Cookson however, does not believe that such a plan would work.
"I have to say I think that's unrealistic," he said. "I would like to see a women's Tour de France but I think it needs to be over modified distances, modified number of days and so on."
The Brit reiterated that the time was now right to introduce a minimum wage on women's pro teams and what he also plans, if elected, to put women into more positions of power within the UCI to "take the sport forward in a positive way and that works for women. So it's not just a shadow of men's events and men's teams."
A key issue of late for the Oceania Confederation has been the dwindling number of events on the road calendar, with new President Tracey Gaudry currently working on rebuilding the schedule. Cookson said that from a UCI perspective, he certainly supports any moves to boost the amount of racing in the region.
"What you guys need to do in Australia and Oceania, is in fact to work together… I'm sure that the UCI, certainly as long as I'm President of the Road Commission which I am at the moment, will be supportive," he explained. "From the UCI's point of view, the stronger cycling is in Oceania, the better it is and the more events there are, the better."