By Chatham George Paulson-Thomas & Stefan Schoofveldt
AIGLE, Switzerland (April 1, 2023) — The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), in association with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), shocked the world this morning by announcing the launch of a new Formula 1 Cycling Series for bicycle racing, set to begin in 2024. The announcement was made during a press conference in Aigle, Switzerland, where UCI President David Lappartient revealed that Lance Armstrong had been named as the Series Race Director.
“We are thrilled to be launching the world’s first Formula 1 Cycling Series,” said Lappartient. “This will be a game-changer for the sport, and we can’t wait to see the world’s top cyclists battling it out on the track.”
The UCI also announced that legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx will be named as the honorary chairperson of the series. Merckx expressed his excitement about the new series.
“I am honored to be named as the honorary chairperson of the Formula 1 Cycling Series,” said Merckx. “This is a new and exciting chapter for the sport of cycling, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.”
Merckx, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time, has won multiple Grand Tours and world championships throughout his career. He is also a respected figure in the cycling community, and his appointment as honorary chairperson is seen as a major coup for the UCI.
“We are thrilled to have Eddy Merckx on board as our honorary chairperson,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “Eddy is a true legend of the sport, and his support and expertise will be invaluable as we work to establish this new series.”
According to the UCI, the Formula 1 Cycling Series will take place on many of the same specially-designed tracks as the automotive Formula One World Championships and will feature hairpin turns, banked corners, and high-speed straights. The races will be divided into multiple stages, with riders competing for points that will be awarded based on their finishing positions. The Series will culminate in a double-points Cahampionship race, where the world’s top riders will compete for the title of Formula 1 Cycling Series champion.
The first race is anticipated to be held at the Circuit Zolder, near Hasselt, Belgium.
The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has responded positively to the UCI’s announcement of a new Formula 1 Cycling Series. In a statement released today, the FIA welcomed the proposed series as a way to bring new revenue to each of the tracks.
“We are excited to hear about the proposed Formula 1 Cycling Series, and we believe that it has the potential to bring a fresh, new energy to the world of sports,” said the FIA statement. “We welcome the opportunity to explore new avenues of collaboration with the UCI and look forward to working together to create a successful and sustainable series.”
The FIA also highlighted the potential benefits of the series for each of the tracks that will host the events.
“Hosting a Formula 1 Cycling Series event will provide an excellent opportunity for each of the tracks to diversify their revenue streams and attract a wider range of audiences,” said the FIA statement. “We believe that this Series will bring a new level of excitement to the sport of cycling and help to elevate it to new heights.”
Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being found guilty of doping, said he was excited to be involved in the new series.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the sport of cycling,” said Armstrong. “I’m honored to be named as the Series Race Director, and I can’t wait to work with the UCI and the world’s top riders to make this series a success.”
In response to the announcement of the new Formula 1 Cycling Series, several Formula One teams have expressed interest in designing bicycles for affiliated teams to use in the races. The teams see this as an opportunity to showcase their engineering prowess.
“We are very excited about the prospect of designing bicycles for use in the Formula 1 Cycling Series,” said Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. “We believe that this is an opportunity to demonstrate our engineering expertise and innovation in a completely new context.”
Other teams have echoed this sentiment, with many citing the potential for cross-pollination of ideas between the two sports.
“We think that there is a lot that we can learn from the world of cycling, and vice versa,” said Andreas Seidl, team principal of McLaren F1 Team. “We are looking forward to working with our teams to develop the best possible bicycles for the races.”
The UCI has yet to respond to the teams’ statements, but it’s clear that the proposed Formula 1 series for cycling has the potential to create new opportunities for collaboration and growth between the two sports. With some of the top engineering talent in the world already expressing interest in the Series, it will be exciting to see what kinds of innovative new designs emerge as a result.
While teams are readying their engineering and design staff to get to work, the UCI have yet to announce the formula for the new bicycles. It is currently unknown if they will resemble modern racing bicycles with aerodynamic enhancements, or pedal-powered Formula One automobiles. Rumor does indicate that the vehicles will be partially powered by lithium batteries, which means that in a crash they will be just as likely, if not more so, to burst into flames.
In spite of positive reactions from key stakeholders in both cycling and motor sports following the UCI’s announcement of the new Formula 1 Cycling Series, not everyone feels quite the same way. The Formula One Group, owners of the Formula One World Championship, have responded with surprise and skepticism. In a statement released today, Formula One Group CEO Stefano Domenicali expressed doubts about the feasibility of such a series.
“While we appreciate the UCI’s enthusiasm for creating new racing series, we have serious reservations about the viability of a Formula 1 Cycling Series,” said Domenicali. “F1 is a complex and sophisticated sport that has taken decades to develop, and we believe that it cannot simply be replicated in other disciplines.”
Domenicali also expressed concern about the choice of Lance Armstrong as the series race director, given his history of doping.
“We have no comment on Mr. Armstrong’s appointment, but we would like to emphasize that clean sport is a top priority for F1,” said Domenicali. “We would welcome any efforts to promote clean and fair competition in cycling, but we would also caution against any attempts to glamorize doping.”
The UCI has yet to respond to the Formula One Group’s statement, but it’s clear that the proposed Formula 1 Cycling Series will face significant challenges as it moves forward.
The UCI has not announced which teams and riders will compete in the Series, but insiders say negotiations are already underway with several top teams and riders.
The Formula 1 Cycling Series is set to begin in April 2024, but with today being April Fool’s Day, it’s best to take this announcement with a grain of salt.
[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Cycling Utah / Cycling West]