Oksana Masters and Ana Maria Vitelaru 2022 Baie-Comeau

Zurich 2024:
Outstanding premiere

From Saturday, 21 September to Sunday, 29 September, the 2024 UCI Road and Para-cycling Road World Championships will cast a spell over the city and canton of Zurich. For the first time, the road races of para-cyclists are an integral part of the cycling world championships. The winners of more than 60 different races will be able to put on the coveted rainbow jersey, cheered on by tens of thousands of fans from Switzerland and abroad. Along routes that are as appealing to the crowds as they are demanding for the riders, in the fan zones and in the epicentre of Sechseläutenplatz - Zurich rides, rolls and raves on the bike!

Stefan Küng Wollongong 2022

Swiss Cross, Tricolour and Union Jack

The UCI Road World Championships traditionally take place in September, after the big national tours like the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. Riders represent their countries and are not members of commercial cycling teams, as is usually the case. The respective reigning world champions wears the UCI’s “rainbow jersey” at all road races for one year.

Depending on the year of the event, the races are only held on the road. Every ten years, however, the next time in Glasgow in 2023, the World Championships include all categories such as track, BMX, mountain bike and Gran Fondo.

 

Zurich 2024 at a glance

The menu for cycling fans and all those who simply want to be there promises to be a culinary delight: On challenging time trial and race courses, top riders from all over the world will give their all in more than 40 road races and para-cycling competitions to win cycling’s top prizes. The races will be held in two disciplines (individual time trial and road race) and nine categories (Women Elite, Men Elite, men Under-23, male and female juniors, team women and team men, para-women and para-men). In addition, grassroots races will take place.

The crème de la crème of cycling will be gathering in Zurich: around 1,000 riders from about 75 nations for the UCI Road World Championships, joined by 300 athletes from almost 50 countries who will compete for honours on their handbikes, tricycles or racing bikes at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.

Women Road Race Wollongong 2022

Spectacular routes from start to end

Sorry, but details about the exact race courses are being kept secret and will only be revealed later on. What can be said already now: The races will come to the people and lead directly to the heart of Zurich. The finish area on Sechseläutenplatz will bring cycling action at its best to one of the most attractive locations of the city on the banks of the river Limmat.

The starts will be outside the city limits, at locations to be announced in the coming months. On their way to Zurich, the cyclists and the millions of TV viewers will see some scenic “hotspots”. Then it’s down to the nitty-gritty: the final lap of the road races, which has to be ridden several times and leads through the world-famous Zurich city centre and out again, with treacherous climbs and fast descents.  The para-cyclists, on the other hand, start at the finish area and complete their demanding circuits in the city and along the lake.

There will be no shying away from comparison with the great cycling classics. The course profiles will give the races a distinctive character and give the rouleurs who specialise in riding on both flat and rolling terrain as well as the climbers the opportunity to prove their skills, endurance and tactical sense.

Ricardo Ten Argiles Baie-Comeau 2022

Overcoming the limits of the seemingly feasible

Para-athletes have an impact beyond sport by their example.

They open up completely new perspectives. Take, for example, how they achieve top performances on special bicycles. Para-cyclists are just as motivated and ambitious as their able-bodied counterparts. They train just as hard and persistently and in fact have to apply even more attention to detail when preparing.

The competitions of the newly integrated UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships will be divided into three disciplines, time trial, road race and team relay. Men and women will compete separately in the divisions Cycling, Handbike, Tricycle and Tandem. There are up to five sport classes. Handcyclists compete in the spectacular team relay that is held on a circular route of 2 to 4 km, which is ridden several times by each athlete.

Want to know more about para-cycling? Click here for additional information from UCI.

UCI, National Federations and National Teams

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the umbrella organisation of national cycling federations, based in Aigle, Switzerland. The UCI has 201 national and five continental cycling federations with over one million licensed riders (as of 2021). 

The national federations, such as Swiss Cycling in Switzerland, promote cycling in all its forms and, according to the UCI statutes, are considered the representative organisation for the respective country. The national federations of a continent are also members of their respective continental federation. 

The UCI Road World Championships are contested by national teams and not by commercial racing teams, as is the norm for tours, one-day races or other major competitions. The ticket to the World Championships is not automatic, but is based on a quota system. The UCI redefines the qualification system every year. In 2022, the top 10 nations are allowed to nominate a maximum of eight riders for the elite men, and a maximum of seven riders for the top 5 countries can be on the women’s start list.

Zurich’s great cycling history

When the world’s cycling elite meet in Zurich in 2024 for the World Championships, it will be more than 100 years since the city on the Limmat first witnessed this major event.

Zurich has hosted the World Road Cycling Championships three times: in 1923, 1929 and 1946. The last event was particularly memorable. Hans Knecht, a Zurich cyclist, made history when he became world champion.

The city of Zurich has a long-standing, diverse and intensive relationship with cycling. The “Offene Rennbahn Oerlikon” was opened in 1912 and is the oldest open-air operational sports arena in Switzerland. For decades, the Six Days of Zurich in the Hallenstadion was one of the best-known and best-attended sporting events in the country. In 1919, the one-day Züri-Metzgete road race was held for the first time. From 1968 to 2006, the Züri-Metzgete, a European one-day classic, was held as a professional race. At times more than 2,000 people took part in the amateur races held at the same time.

In the 1950s, Hugo Koblet and Ferdy Kübler, the only Swiss Tour de France winners to date, were among the world’s best professional cyclists and triggered a real cycling euphoria in Zurich.

There are various long-standing cycling clubs in Zurich, but clubs have also sprung up more recently (e.g. the Züritrails club for mountain biking). Triathlon, in which cycling plays a decisive role, is very popular in Zurich. The Ironman Zurich, one of the world’s most important long-distance triathlon events, has been held in the city for years. Thousands of athletes take part in the Ironman and the shorter Züri triathlon, which takes place at the same time.

In 2020, the World Cycling Championships should have taken place in Aigle/Martigny. However, this had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was held in Italy instead. Switzerland has hosted the World Cycling Championships ten times so far:

  • 1923 in Zurich (amateurs only)
  • 1929 in Zurich
  • 1936 in Bern
  • 1946 in Zurich
  • 1953 in Lugano
  • 1961 in Bern
  • 1971 in Mendrisio
  • 1983 in Altenrhein
  • 1996 in Lugano
  • 2009 in Mendrisio
Men Elite Road Race Wollongong 2022

A huge cycle party
for all

Can Zurich celebrate? Yes, and how! For the “Zürifäscht”, Street Parade, “Knabenschiessen” (a shooting contest for boys and girls between 13 and 17 years) and numerous other major events, people flock to the city in their tens, even hundreds of thousands and more. So it goes without saying that a cycling world championship will also include a big cycle party. Plus fan zones at several locations, public viewings and so on and so forth … in 2024, the city of Zwingli will be rolling, pardon the pun, celebrating in top gear.

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