Swiss Cycling drop women’s program after financial cutbacks

Financial cutbacks have forced Swiss Cycling to cancel its women’s program, in order to save funding in the amount of CHF 500,000 for next year because of a lack of sponsors. The cutbacks will affect the support programs for elite women road riders, consisting of training camps and participation in races abroad, according to initial reports in Neue Zurcher Zeitung and CyclingTips.

The cutbacks have also forced the federation to let go of their women’s national team coach Christian Rocha, who was hired in 2011 to help strengthen the women’s program.

Rocha expressed his disappointment in Swiss Cycling’s decision to cancel their women’s program, especially after committing to the last four years, saying, “Women's road cycling is not like that of men’s, over a sufficiently large base with privately funded teams, not elsewhere and certainly not in Switzerland. That is why this task must be taken over by associations.

"Leading organizations in women's road cycling have recognized this, including those in the Netherlands, Italy, France, the US and Germany. They have programs that are not primarily aimed at the support of top riders, but to the strengthening of the central structure.

"They should have given us another four years."

Swiss Cycling’s director of sport performance Thomas Peter noted, however, that the progression that he had expected from the women’s program did not materialise, and that the program has compared poorly to other programs, despite having more promotion compared to the men’s program.

The cutbacks will not affect the women’s elite programs for the World Championships and the Olympic Games or women’s mountain biking. Specific youth category programs for road and mountain biking will still take place and this means that they will continue to have the development for the Swiss Young Riders. These programs will be headed by Edi Telser, who is also the MTB National Coach and he started the program with Rocha two years ago, Selina Kuepfer, who is responsible for communications for Swiss Cycling, told Cyclingnews.

In an earlier report on Ella Cyclingtips, Swiss rider Patricia Schwager said, “This is very bad for the young riders. Our program may not have been as extensive as the Australian Institute of Sport or USA Cycling but it was important for the young riders to gain experience in bigger and international races. Without any program, there will be no development of our young Swiss riders anymore and that is very bad.”

This year, mountain bike specialist Jolanda Neff won the women's road race title at the Swiss Road Championships. Maricia Eicher-Vouets was second ahead of Bigla Pro Cycling teammates Doris Schweizer and Emilie Aubry.

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