Between 28th and 31st August Slovenia hosted the UWCT Final Ljubljana 2014 World Championship. 1547 cyclists from 44 countries took part in the event. Slovenian cyclists won a whopping number of 5 gold medals. Altogether the income during the championship, regarding salespeople, catering services and hotels is estimated to at least 2 million EUR. KD Rog, the organiser of the Championship, and the sponsors – the BTC Company, the City Municipality of Ljubljana, the Slovenian Cycling Federation KZS and the newspaper company Delo have shown their outstanding organisational competences, which have not gone unnoticed by numerous foreign guests and competitors.
Most widely represented at the Championship were Slovenes (278 competitors), followed by Italians (196), Danes (87) and Australians (85). Although the World Championship was organised in the amateur section, the cyclists, especially Slovenes, have put on truly spectacular performances.
The Championship started on Thursday, 28th August with a trial race, where Martin Toft Madsen from Denmark took the gold, while the American Molly Van Houweling won the gold in the same event in the women’s category. A day later, on Friday, 29th August the opening ceremony and the team relay took place. The main event of the Championship was organised on Sunday, 31st August with scheduled long and short distance road race events. They both followed the well established course of the recreational championship Marathon Franja BTC City.
Slovene Igor Kopše tackled the long distance road race (157 km) best and it took him 3 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds to reach the finish line. In the women’s category 4 hours and 25 minutes sufficed for Ajda Opeka — another Slovene to take home the gold on the same course, where 4 Slovenes ranked the highest. Igor Kopše was followed by Borja Jelič, Dušan Hajdinjak and Gregor Tekavec in the second, third and fourth place. Altogether seven Slovene cyclists finished among the first thirty competitors. Italian Giuseppe Di Salvo, the winner in the U35 category, enthralled the spectators with his incredible average speed of 42.9 kilometres per hour.
A special place among the heroes of the competition belongs to the oldest competitors. In the women’s category the oldest cyclist, Irmgard Reinisch, 67, came from Austria, while in the men’s category the Slovene Adolf Križnar, 83, tackled the course as well.
The UWCT Final Ljubljana 2014 World Championship bears much importance not only as a sports event, but also from the perspective of tourism and the promotion of Slovenia. Most competitors were foreigners, who made about 12,500 lodgings in Ljubljana during the Championship. The profit from sales, catering and hotels is estimated to at least 2 million EUR.
Brian Cookson, the President of the UCI, congratulated the organisers for an extremely well organised competition: “The World Championship was beautifully organised, especially from a sporting point of view. The road race course could not have been safer. Due to the strong support of the BTC City, the city of Ljubljana, the Slovenian Cycling Federation and the contribution of 1600 volunteers, this Final will remain in the memory of numerous participants.” The President of the UCI thanked the organisers for contributing to the development of mass participation events, and announced the next year’s Marathon Franja as the qualifier event for the next UWCT in Denmark.
Renato di Rocco, the vice-president of the UCI, pointed out the professional and friendly organising team and thanked the organisers for making such a high-level event, where di Rocco as well as all the participants were given a warm reception.”
Erwin Vervecken, the UWCT coordinator, thanked the organisers by emphasizing the hard work and commitment of the organisers over the past year, which has led them to reach another world championship standard, setting the bar even higher for future organisers. He acknowledged that the World Championship in Slovenia positively impacted the competitors, an incredibly positive feedback. Vervecken congratulated for a superbly organised World Championship.
Jože Mermal, President of the BTC Management Board, was satisfied with the progress of the event: “I am extremely proud of the organising team, the sponsors, and the 1600 volunteers, who helped organise this incredible sports event. The cyclists were thrilled about the Championship and many promised to come back soon. This is the greatest reward for all our efforts.”
Zoran Jankovič, Mayor of the City Municipality of Ljubljana, emphasized after the event: “Ljubljana has once again shown its true sports-loving and cycling nature. I am overwhelmed with the people of Ljubljana who showed sportsmanship in cheering for all the competitors. I am positive the reputation of Ljubljana abroad will grow even stronger after this event, especially due to the great organisation and the beautiful city. The fact that almost 20 % of all cyclists taking part in this World Championship were Slovene clearly shows that apparently we are becoming a nation of cyclists.”
Recreational cycling shows active involvement of recreational athletes with a purpose to relax and enjoy, gain cycling fitness and possibly join different cycling events. Given the number of cycling events and the participants, this type of recreation grows more and more popular in Slovenia, and at the same time represents a discipline that goes hand in hand with the trend of tourist cycling. The social trend experts predict a great development potential, while the discipline enjoys the support of the UCI, as well.
Results of the UWCT Final Ljubljana 2014 World Championship can be found at the following link: http://uwct-en.franja.org/gallery.html
Maja Oven, Director of the Market Communications and Public Relations Sector
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