With the ever-increasing popularity of women’s cycling, the UCI has announced the addition of three events in the UCI Women’s WorldTour for 2018. The events will include the Trois Jours de La Panne in Belgium, the Bira Emakumeen in Spain, and Tour of Guangxi in China.
While this change in the calendar may not seem like a major step, for female racers, it means moving closer to a calendar as jam-packed as that of Men’s WorldTour. In 2017, the men’s WorldTour was comprised of 38 events, while the women had 20. In 2018, the women’s WorldTour will have 23.
Why do WorldTour events matter? Simply put, they’re the biggest and most important road races that riders can enter, with more points and prize money on the line than lower category races.
The Trois Jours de La Panne has been a men’s race since 1977, but will now feature a new women’s one-day race in the West Flanders region (not on the same day as the men’s race). The Emakumeen Euskal Bira has been running since 1988 as a four-stage race held in the Basque region of Spain. And the one-day Tour of Guangxi was already registered as Class 1 race this year, but will join the World Tour calendar next season.
The WorldTour for women started as a World Cup series of nine one-day races in 2015 and became a WorldTour in 2016. In 2018, it will span 23 events and 52 days of racing.
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According to the UCI, in 2016, over 300 hours of broadcast time, reaching nearly 80 million TV viewers, showcased women’s racing worldwide. This season, 12 races will be broadcast live, three more than in 2016.
“A huge amount has been achieved over the past two seasons in collaboration with race organizers, teams, riders, partners and media," says UCI Vice-president and President of the UCI Women’s Commission Tracey Gaudry. "I’m confident that this journey of progress will continue in the season ahead.”
“Promoting women’s cycling has always been one of my priorities, and I’m particularly pleased to see the significant progress that has been made on this front over the last few years," added Brian Cookson, current UCI President. "Of course, there is still more to be done and women’ cycling will certainly remain one of my core priorities in the years ahead." (Cookson’s presidency is currently being challenged, so it will be interesting to see if his female-rider-friendly stance scores him votes.)
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