The UCI have announced the calendar for the Women’s World Tour, which will replace the World Cup that has held a prominent place in the calendar since 1998.
The new format has been created to accommodate the fast growth of women’s cycling, providing the peloton with greater challenges, including four stage races and 13-one-day events - accumulating to 35 days of racing.
The new format increases the number of UCI competitive racing days by a pretty huge 60 per cent. The UCI is also demanding that all organisers meet a set of criteria regarding TV coverage, broadcast and social media activity to ensure visibility.
The calendar begins with the Strada Bianche, the spring classic which added a women’s event just this year, and runs right up until La Madrid Challenge in September.
Some of the events – such as La Course and the Tour of Flanders – exist alongside men’s versions, meaning the race can capitalise on already waiting fans, giving women a huge audience to showcase their racing.
Unfortunately, though we had hoped the Giro might shift so as not to coincide with the men’s Tour de France, that hasn’t happened, so the ten day tour will still struggle to find exposure among Tour de France headlines.
Eight of the events will be broadcast live, and we’re excited that with nine countries visited, the World Tour will come to Great Britain twice.
Each event will be obliged to invite the 20 UCI Women’s Teams, and some organisers will choose to offer places for more teams.
Women will compete for the overall World Tour Title – much like in the World Cup, which Lizzie Armitstead won this year, also competing for best young rider. Organisers will also be able to add their own jerseys, such as Queen of the Mountain and Sprint jerseys, which will be applicable to individual events.
UCI president Brian Cookson was clear on his election that growing and supporting women’s cycling was a major objective of his. He says the new World Tour increases the number of competition days by a massive 60 per cent and has said: “The launch of the UCI Women’s WorldTour is a major step forward for women’s cycling and reflects detailed and very constructive discussions we have had with all our key stakeholders for more than a year now."
Without further ado, here are the races for your calendar...
1 - Strade Bianche, ITA - 05/03/16
2 - Women's WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe, NED - 12/03/16
3 - Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio, ITA - 20/03/2016
4 - Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields, BEL - 27/03/16
5 - Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres, BEL - 03/04/16
6 - La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, BEL - 20/04/15
7 - Tour of Chongming Island, CHN - from 06/05/16 to 08/05/16
8 - Amgen Tour of California, USA - from 19/05/16 to 22/05/16
9 - Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, USA - 05/06/16
10 - Aviva Womens Tour, GBR - from 15/06/16 to 19/06/16
11 - Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, ITA - from 01/07/16 to 10/07/16
12 - La Course by Le Tour de France, FRA - 24/07/16
13 - Prudential Ride London, GBR - 30/07/15
14 - Crescent Vargarda UCI Women's WorldTour, SWE - 19/08/16
15 - Crescent Vargarda UCI Women's WorldTour TTT, SWE - 21/08/16
16 - GP de Plouay-Bretagne, FRA - 27/08/16
17 - LA MADRID CHALLENGE By La Vuelta, ESP - 11/09/16