This is an exclusively male discipline. Two teams of two players each (who act as both goalkeeper and outfield player) compete in a match. They strike the ball with the front or rear wheel or their body. As in football, they must place the ball in the goal of the opposing team. Fouls are penalised by awarding free kicks and penalties.
The first official artistic cycling World Championships were held in 1956. This sport is most popular in Germany, where there are no fewer than 10000 licence holders.
This sport is comparable to ice-skating and artistic gymnastics. The competitors (individuals or pairs) present a 5-minute programme set to music. The jury awards marks for the quality of the performance.
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The UWCT (UCI World Cycling Tour) Final took place in Trento, Italy, from September 19th to 22nd. The finalists had earned the right to compete for the World title in their respective age groups by finishing in the top 25% of one of the 11 qualifying events held throughout the world.
In its third year, the UWCT has grown in importance and popularity. The Final (which replaces the former Masters World Championships) in Trento drew record participation and was broadcast by Rai Sport Television. Part of the racing was live on television and a mobile studio at the Piazzo Duomo in Trento brought a live show with interviews and race images.
“The interest from television just shows the importance that this event is taking on,” observes UCI Project Coordinator Andrea Marcellini. “We had around 1600 athletes representing countries from five continents. The largest contingent, of 220 athletes, came all the way from Australia! The level of racing and the atmosphere were quite amazing.”
A total of 23 countries claimed at least one of the 113 medals awarded across the different age groups for the men’s and women’s time trials and road races. With a total of 16 medals (10 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze) the USA topped the medals table, followed by hosts Italy (13 medals) and Slovenia (10 medals). For the record, it is Slovenia who will host the 2014 UWCT Final, in Ljubljana.
Proceedings in Trento got off to a stylish start with a celebrity team relay bringing together some of the former great names of cycling including Felice Gimondi, Francesco and Aldo Moser, Marino Basso and Gilberto Simoni. This was followed by a “test event” team relay for the UWCT participants, with mixed teams of four men and women. The tone was set for the nations’ parade through Trento to the packed-out Piazza Duomo for the Opening Ceremony.
The individual time trials were raced throughout the day on Friday over a challenging 24.6km course that finished with a 2.5km climb.
Without the traditional neutralised start as in the two previous years, the road racing on Sunday was very fast from the outset. However, there was plenty of time for breakaways and regrouping throughout the arduous journey to the final 20km climb and the finish line atop the mythical Monte Bondone!
Italy, second in the overall medal standings, was the strongest nation in the road races, winning 11 of their 13 medals in this discipline.
The 2013-2014 season of the UWCT is already underway: Amy’s Gran Fondo in Lorne, Australia, on September 15th saw the first riders earn their tickets for next year’s final in Slovenia.
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After Stavelot (Belgium) in 2011 and Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) in 2012, the Trento edition is set to break new participation records. Of the 1600 participants, 500 will compete in the individual time trials on Friday and 1200 in the road races on Sunday.
Racing action will be broadcast live on Italian television RAI.
The finalists have earned the right to compete for the rainbow jersey in their respective age groups by finishing in the top 25% of one of the 11 qualifying events held throughout the world. The winners of each age group in Trento will become World Champions in their own right.
A new feature of the 2013 final is the team relay, a test event that this year will not result in official World Titles. Twelve teams of four riders, each mixed men and women, will participate in the relay before the official Opening Ceremony at the Piazza Duomo on Thursday evening.
Turning back the clock in Italy’s cycling history, three teams of cycling legends will race in a separate relay. Participants will include great names such as Felice Gimondi, Francesco Moser, Marino Basso and Gilberto Simoni.
“We are without doubt about to witness an exceptional few days of racing,” commented UCI Event Coordinator Andrea Marcellini Mendonça. “The level of the athletes is exceptional, and the road race course extremely demanding, finishing atop the mythical Monte Bondone. The athletes who competed in the qualifier here in Trento have already had a taste of what is to come!”
Ms Marcellini also commented on her satisfaction at the number of women behind the organisation of this World Championships event: The President of the Organising Committee, the Chief Commissaire’s Panel, the Doping Control Officer, the UCI Board Member representative, the Event Coordinator and the Official Speaker are all women!
Photo: Amy’s Gran Fondo in Australia is one of the qualifying events
One of the most legendary stages of the Giro d’Italia took place in 1956 on the slopes of Monte Bondone. Charly Gaul took on, and conquered, fearsome climbs and horrendous temperatures dropping to -10°C. It is in this same setting of the Dolomites, although at much more pleasant temperatures, that the Final of the 2013 UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) will be held from 19-22 September. The event was formerly known as the UCI Masters Road World Championships. The Final promises to be exceptional, as demonstrated by the test event held last week – La Leggendaria Charly Gaul.
Over 2,000 amateur riders took part in the event which offered the double benefit of offering a reconnaissance of the Final as well as itself being part of the UWCT calendar (acting as a qualifying round for the Final). Among the cycling fanatics taking part, some 200 competed in the individual time trial on the Friday, with 1,800 setting out from Trento on Sunday for the journey to Monte Bondone.
The participants could feel themselves travelling in the shadow of the legendary Charly Gaul while enjoying the beautiful region of lakes, vineyards and mountains. The organisation of the event, now in its eighth year, was second to none. Much work has been done to promote the event. In pride of place was a special broadcast by public TV channel RAI 2 from the finish line, with interviews and live reporting.
“As the UCI Cycling for All Coordinator and having completed the event on my bike, I can say that La Leggendaria Charly Gaul is an exceptional event,” observed Andrea Marcellini. “The atmosphere was magnificent and the facilities for the riders and safety arrangements were quite remarkable. The organising committee wants to promote the region through this event and has done an excellent job in getting extensive coverage. They set up a working group of former professional riders from the area to reinforce the sporting and technical aspects of the event and were open to suggestions from the UCI.”
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul experienced a 50% increase in the number of participants when it was accepted on the UWCT calendar in 2012 and a further 40% this year. Riders from abroad have obviously been attracted by the formula as they made up 55% of the competitors in the time trial, representing 32 different countries.
“After this test event, we have every reason to believe that the 2013 UWCT Final will be magnificent in all respects,” asserted Marcellini.
The Final is open to all amateur riders who have qualified through a round of the UWCT. There are still three opportunities for enthusiasts to gain a precious invitation to the Final with the opportunity to win a rainbow jersey: the Gran Fondo Sri Lanka (24-25 August), the Copa 100k in Brazil (1 September) and the Val d’Aran Cycling Tour in Spain (7 September).