Virtual cycling has enjoyed a rise in prominence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has selected Abu Dhabi-based MyWhoosh to organise its Cycling Esports World Championships for the next three years, taking over from Zwift.

Zwift had hosted the first three editions of the event in 2020, 2022 and 2023, but the UCI has chosen MyWhoosh for the next three editions through to 2026.

MyWhoosh is a free-to-use virtual cycling app which was founded in 2019 in the United Arab Emirates' capital.

UCI President David Lappartient is an instrumental figure in the Olympic movement attempting to strengthen its ties with esports, although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has refused to recognise the rival International Esports Federation or Global Esports Federation and a pathway for inclusion in the Olympic Games remains unclear.

The IOC held its inaugural Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in June, and earlier this month Lappartient, who is a member in France and also French National Olympic and Sports Committee President, was appointed to chair its first Esports Commission.

Lappartient welcomed the partnership with MyWhoosh, and suggested it provided evidence of the UCI's growing ties with Abu Dhabi.

"We are delighted to welcome MyWhoosh as the new platform and organiser of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships for the next three years, and we are convinced that they will continue to develop this exciting and popular event," he said.

"Today’s announcement further confirms Abu Dhabi’s commitment to our sport after it hosted a magnificent edition of the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships in 2022.

"The city will again welcome this event in 2024, as well as the UCI Road World Championships and the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in 2028 and the UCI Track World Championships in 2029.

"The next three editions of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships add to Abu Dhabi’s reputation as host of top-class cycling events."

MyWhoosh chief executive and managing director Akhtar Saeed Hashmi promised to deliver "firm race control mechanisms" as organisers of the UCI Cycling Esports Championships and "an immersive experience that combines the excitement of esports with the spirit of cycling".

Zwift told Cycling News it was disappointed but "extremely proud" of its three UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.