1900: A Major Cycling Organization is Born in Paris

April 14, 1900

A 1909 meeting of UCI delegates in Paris.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which remains the international governing body for sports cycling well over a century later, was established at a meeting in Paris, France. UCI was founded as a replacement for the International Cycling Association (ICA), which had been organized eight years earlier as the first world body for competitive cycling.

There had been increasing concerns about ICA’s exercise of its oversight role. An especially notable concern was what many regarded as the organization’s rigid and confusing eligibility criteria for participation in cycling championship races. Another major concern involved how many teams Great Britain – at the height of its era as an empire — should be allowed to field at world cycling events.

The Boston Post newspaper reported, “Great Britain has had a three to one advantage over other countries by counting England, Ireland and Scotland as separate nations.” This article also noted, “It is proposed to change this order of things by declaring that these three shall be considered as one, Great Britain.”

In addressing these perceived hurdles to the healthy growth of sports cycling, the delegates who convened in Paris ultimately focused on creating a new organization. These delegates, representing a total of five countries and six associations, included Emile De Beukelaer for Belgium’s Ligue Velocipédique Belge; Victor Breyer of France on behalf of the U.S.-based National Cycling Association; Alfred Riguelle for France’s Union velocipédique de France; Count Villers for another French organization, Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques; Mario Bruzzone for Italy’s Unione Velocipedistica Italiana; and Paul Rousseau on behalf of Switzerland’s Union Cycliste Suisse.

De Beukelaer was selected as the new organization’s president – a position he would hold until 1922 – and Rousseau was made secretary. Great Britain, for its part, was finally able to join UCI under the organization’s conditions in 1903.

For more information on UCI, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Cycliste_Internationale and https://www.uci.org/inside-uci/about/history

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