by ALP Cycles coach Patricia Schwager
This blog is about my experience at the UCI DS training program. I spent the last 3 weeks in Switzerland. The main reason for the trip to my home country was because I attended the 8 days DS training program. The class took place in Aigle, at the World Cycling Center (HQ of the UCI). Every autumn, the UCI is offering a class and exam to receive the UCI DS certification. Right now, the UCI DS certification is mandatory for all Sport Directors working for WorldTour teams and Pro Continental teams. As we got told, this rule will soon also apply for Sport Directors that are working for UCI women's teams. I was lucky enough to receive one of the few scholarships for this 8 day class. Thank you to the UCI for offering such scholarships and thank you to Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank for the help to get me a scholarship. Fun fact about the DS training program: it was almost like a reunion! I knew lots of the people in my class, people that I have met somewhere during my long pro racing career.
If you think that a Sport Director (DS) has an easy job and is just driving the team car in the race caravan, then you are wrong. As a DS, you have to have the knowledge of many different aspects of cycling. You have to organize, plan, communicate and of course you need to know the rules and regulations. What is allowed and what is not allowed for your riders, for yourself while driving in the race convoy and then there are many other rules for team administrative stuff, equipment, anti-doping, etc
The following topics were covered during the 8 days of school:
-Team registration- financial criteria: we learned about the many financial criteria that a team has to fulfill in order to receive a WT license or register as a Pro Continental team. We learned which documents each team has to provide and we got to know the rules/ regulations for a paying agent, bank guarantee, rider contracts, etc.
-Sporting control of road races: this was the biggest/ main topic as it covered all the rules that appear before, during and after a road race. Penalties are expensive...so you better make sure to know the rules! :)
-Organization of the UCI: this presentation was about the global organization of the UCI, about the rules of the different World rankings, about rider/ staff licenses and about new regulations/ key regulations for 2017
-Professional Road cycling: this topic was all about; team roster registrations, transfers, Joint Agreements 2013, Rider's Agents and the required insurance policies for teams.
-Equipment: this was very interesting as we talked and learned about: technical regulations of equipment, approval procedure for frames/forks/wheels and general rules about equipment and clothing.
-Anti-doping: it is very, very important to know these rules! World anti-doping code, anti-doping rules violations, WADA and ADAMS (whereabouts), TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption). We also had a presentation from the CADF (Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation). The CADF is independent from the UCI but is mandated by the UCI to run its anti-doping program/ testing.
-Role of a DS/ rules of driving in a race caravan: as a DS you need to know in which time frame you have to plan everything for a race or a whole race season. Then we also had a lesson to get the knowledge of driving in a race caravan. Things can become very stressful/ hectic in certain race situations.
-Leadership: for 2 days we learned tips, tricks and skills for leadership. As a DS, you are a leader. You have to have good communication, people skills and work with clear rules. You have to make decisions and that's not always easy. Which values do you need as a DS/ leader? How do you explain things in an easy way and to make it understandable for everyone? How do you tell a rider that she/ he didn't make the team selection for a big race? How do you form a team out of individuals with different personalities, nationalities/cultures/languages? We also learned to understand team dynamics, how to involve everyone in teamwork and how to delegate roles within the team to make teamwork most efficient.
The exam was on the last day. The questions were across all the topics we talked about during the 8 days and about all the UCI rules. I passed the exam and will now have the UCI DS certification in my pocket!
I certainly learned a lot during the 8 days at the UCI center and I am sure all this knowledge will be helpful for my future!