UCI President David Lappartient is aiming to introduce the newly announced team time trial mixed relay to the Olympic Games in the future. Lappartient did not set a date for this goal, but with the sports and disciplines already set for Tokyo 2020, the earliest it could happen is Paris 2024.
Lappartient added that a test event for the relay could take place at the European Championships at the end of next summer, but no such event has been planned, and the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire could be the first live running of the format.
"It's not impossible that the World Championships will be the test event for the Olympic Games. In the future, though. Why not?" Lappartient said in Innsbruck on the final weekend of the 2018 Worlds.
"This is a race where you don't need more athletes to enter, and I know that the IOC is looking for more gender equality so that could be an option in the future for the UCI if it is a good success, to promote this race to enter the Olympic Games in the future, because we have no team race except on the track at the moment and this is also something that the IOC is looking for.
"We will work on this. It is not impossible that the UEC will go in this direction and I think the European Cycling association will discuss it. So, maybe at the European level - the European Championships are supposed to take place in August - they could have the option of having a test event before the World Championships. We will work on this but I'm not sure that we will be able to have a test event before this.|"
Too late to change
The team time trial relay will replace the trade team time trial, which was first held at the World Championships in Valkenburg in 2012. This year saw the last edition of the trade team event, which was won by Quick-Step Floors and Canyon-SRAM in the men's and women's competitions, respectively.
Following the event, several riders voiced their disappointment that the trade team event would disappear. Lappartient hit back at the comments, saying that the teams organisation - the AIGCP - had pushed for the ending of the trade team event and it was now too late to make changes.
"I received a letter from the AIGCP before to say that they wanted to stop with this race, so that's the reality. I don't know if they had complete consultation among their members but it's not my job to see when I have a letter form the AIGCP if they have full support," he said.
"When I receive a letter from the AIGCP, I believe it is with the full support of them. Of course, it was a long discussion last year when I was the president of the PCC. One part of the financial agreement was that they were sure this race would stop. It was a request from them so to complain now, I say to the AIGCP that it's too late. You sent me this letter that you wanted to stop with the race, no problem. We have some other solutions and I think the solution we have is wonderful for the sport."
Lappartient did say, however, that the decision to cancel the event had only come due to the pressure for the men's teams. When questioned if it would have a detrimental effect on the women's calendar, which has seen several new team time trial events added, Lappartient admitted that it could but said he believed the new event would create more opportunities for women's cycling.
"That could be a problem because the request was not coming from the women's teams but more from the men's teams but we can't have one solution for men and another for women," he said.
"This was a solution for both. I consider that the reforms for women's professional cycling will really bring some new opportunities. It's true that today the team time trial was one of the real opportunities for the women's teams to show themselves and have better TV coverage than in other races. I truly believe that with the reforms that we announced a few days ago it will really bring some new opportunities for the teams to have this."
Lappartient did not dismiss the potential return of the trade team time trial, should the teams want it, but said that it would likely return as a standalone event.
"There could be a specific World Championships for the trade teams, this is something that we are open to discussing but not in the programme of the UCI World Championships," he said. "The programme is eight days and we can't have another race in this programme. We are happy to discuss it with the teams but it would be a specific race and not a race during the World Championships."