International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson has announced plans to set up a World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Central or South America to help develop world class cyclists, coaches and facilities in the region.
The main WCC is located at the headquarters of the UCI in Aigle, Switzerland and is a high-level coaching and training centre.
Cookson made the announcement today at the annual Pan American Cycling Confederation (COPACI) Congress in Puebla, Mexico which coincides with the Pan-American Road Cycling Championships taking place there.
"It is an honour for me to be here in Puebla for the COPACI Congress and Pan American Road Cycling Championships - my first as UCI President," said Cookson.
"As President of the UCI, one of my core aims is to grow and develop cycling across the world and certainly the COPACI region is key to achieving this.
"One of the ways we can do this is to help ensure that riders from as many disciplines as possible, from right across the continent, are able to develop into world class athletes capable of winning medals in World Championships, starring at the Olympic Games and wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.
"To help facilitate this, the UCI is committed to creating at least one World Cycling Centre satellite venue in the COPACI region.
"This will be an important development, not just for the nation that will host the WCC satellite, but for aspiring athletes across the Americas who will benefit from world class training, coaching and support facilities."
Recognised as an Olympic Training Centre by the International Olympic Committee, the WCC's main objective is to detect and train the most promising athletes so they reach international level.
The WCC also conducts courses, provides internships and sets exams for those in other professions within cycling such as coaches, sport directors and mechanics.
Along with the main centre in Aigle, there are currently three WCC satellite centres in South Africa, Japan and South Korea.
The COPACI Congress is being attended by around 20 national cycling federations from the Americas and among the issues that will be discussed is the development of smaller federations and how to support youth cycling.
Cookson praised the role played by COPACI and its members in hosting major cycling events including the Tour de San Luis, the Tour of California and the Tour of Colombia, which he described as "big milestones" on the UCI calendar.
"The eyes of the world will become even more focussed on South America with the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and then the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018," added Cookson.
"So the continent has a unique and powerful opportunity to use the global profile of the Olympic brand to provide a huge boost to cycling across the COPACI region."
Next year will also see the UCI Road World Championships taking place in Richmond, Virginia while the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships will be held in Medellin, Colombia.
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