By Ben Atkins in Manchester
This afternoon at the Manchester Velodrome Pat McQuaid, President of the Union Cycliste International (UCI) signed a contract with LOOK cycles to provide one hundred bikes per year for the next four years in a programme called "Bikes for the World presented by LOOK". Under the programme those bikes will be sent to national federations who want to develop cycling in their country. Frames, pedals, seat posts, track stems and handlebars will be provided by LOOK, the rest of the bikes will be provided by a range of the UCIs other sponsors.
According to McQuaid, this programme is a "very, very important project" for helping to promote cycle sport in developing nations, one of the big aims of the UCI in its creation of the Continental Calendars that sit below the controversial ProTour.
"Outside Europe the sport is developing rapidly," said McQuaid. "The five Continental calendars are growing dramatically." He pointed out the success of the Africa Tour, where the number of UCI races has grown from four in 2002 to twenty-two in 2008.
Thierry Fourneir, Director General of LOOK cited the company's reasons for entering into the programme. It is, said Fournier important to not only provide support to high profile federations and teams, but also to support the sport at grassroots level. For example, LOOK is involved in the promotion of local races in China, provides bikes to schools.
This is not the first cooperation between LOOK and the UCI, as they have been a supplier of bikes for the UCI's World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. They have been providing bikes to smaller federations for many years.
(For reports, photos and full results of the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, please see Cyclingnews' extensive coverage from day 5 featuring the Women's scratch, Men's omnium and Women's keirin.)