We’ve said it a lot of times – but it’s because it’s true: women’s cycling is on the rise and the introduction of the UCI Women’s World Tour for 2016 is a clear indication of that fact.
In his 2015 End of Year address, UCI president Brian Cookson highlighted the World Tour as the number one positive change in the sport. The introduction of the series of seventeen events sees a 60 per cent increase in the number of racing days compared to the previous Women’s World Cup.
He also said that increased media exposure was “at the heart of UCI’s strategy for developing women’s cycling”. Event organisers must now provide live streaming or highlight packages, plus a news clip to be sent to broadcasters after all races.
Most of us relish the opportunity to watch our cycling idols thrashing it out in race mode – and the good news is that the more eyes on screens, the more confidence sponsors will have in putting money into the teams that make the magic happen. This really is a situation where the UCI have made changes to help women’s cycling grow, the teams are ready to perform – and now the fans need to step up and make themselves known by following racing, getting involved on social media and making a hellova noise about the whole thing.
We’ve outlined the UCI Women’s World Tour races here – put them in your diary now, because these are dates not to be missed!
5 March: Strade Bianche Donne, Italy
This Tuscan beauty of a spring classic appeared in the women’s calendar for the first time in 2015 and proved to be a fantastic success, unleashing a firework of excitement as Megan Guarnier took a solo first place, leaving Lizzie Armitstead and Elisa Longo Borghini battling for second.
Last year’s event covered 103 km with punchy climbs, and the race will always be characterised by sections of white gravel road – which in 2015 made up 57km of the overall distance – making this a race for a strong rider with the technical skills to succeed over difficult surfaces.
This one is run on the same day as the men’s event, with the same start and finish line. The organisers, RCS sport, have already created a promo video (below) to celebrate the inclusion of their race in the WWT, and you can keep up to date via the site and twitter feed.