The UCI has confirmed it will create an eSports World Championships and draw up rules for virtual cycling races for digital platforms such as Zwift.
Virtual bike racing and training has become hugely popular in recent years due to improved technology helping time-strapped cyclists ride at home and avoid inclement weather or busy city roads. eSport bike races have already been held and broadcast on line, drawing a virtual audience of fans. TheCVR World Cup series for both men and women was held this year. The final race was in Vancouver, with donations creating a prize pot of over $50,000.
The UCI attended the eSports Forum organised by the International Olympic Committee in the summer and is determined to be ready for when, or if, eSports are included in the Olympic Games or other events.
It is not clear when an eventual UCI esports World Championships would be held, and the format of racing, but the UCI is keen to be involved.
Zwift created a virtual copy of the 2018 Innsbruck World Road Race Championship course with Britain's Dani Rowe using it to study and train for the world championships at home before travelling to Austria.
"We've created the e-MTB world championships, with the first held in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada in 2019 but eSports is something else. We're very interested in virtual sports as well as traditional outdoor racing," UCI president David Lappartient explained to Cyclingnews.
"We're looking to the future of every of aspect of cycling and so were keen to help virtual cycling develop. We want to ensure that happens properly by creating some clear guidelines and rules, including anti-doping rules.
"Cycling as an esport is different to many other sports because it's not virtual, you have to push on the pedals, so it's a real physical effort. We could one day see Peter Sagan competing in esport races. I think that would be great for cycling."
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