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Tour de France Femmes

Lotte Kopecky: It’s good that the UCI punishes race organizers that don’t give live coverage

The Belgian rider has a busy summer of racing ahead with the Giro d'Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes on her program.

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Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) believes it’s right that races should be demoted from the Women’s WorldTour if organizers cannot fulfill their live broadcast obligations.

UCI regulations require organizers to show at least 45 minutes of live coverage per day of racing. UK event RideLondon Classique was temporarily stripped of its WorldTour status earlier this month after it only broadcast the final of its three stages showing what the UCI described as an “unacceptable lack of respect” to the riders.

The race could still be on the 2023 Women’s WorldTour calendar if it can prove it will live up to its obligations. While Kopecky, who finished fourth overall at the race, would like to see RideLondon back in the top tier of cycling, she believes the UCI was right to punish the organizers for not providing the required broadcast.

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“It was a nice race, and they had the WorldTour status. I know in the past years it’s been financially pretty hard to have it, but if you cannot do this live coverage, then you should not be WorldTour,” Kopecky said in a press conference late last week.

“It’s maybe not good for this organization, but it’s maybe good that they got this punishment, that they are not allowed to be better than any other race, they have to follow the rules, and that they also have to do this live coverage. I hope in the future that they can manage to do this and that they can stay in the WorldTour.”

After racing at the Belgian national championships at the weekend, Kopecky is next set to race at the Giro d’Italia Donne. The Italian race returned to the Women’s WorldTour this season after it was dropped down to the Pro Series for last year after it also failed to provide the required television coverage.

Following the demotion, the Giro organizer put on a live broadcast for the first time last season and it is planning for some two hours of coverage for each stage this year. It has also promised a significantly bigger prize purse with some €50,000 going to the overall winner.

“I think we said already a lot of times before that this live coverage is actually the most important but yeah, of course, also the prize money is nice. I think every improvement we get at this moment are very good and positive for women’s cycling,” Kopecky said.

On the Tour de France hype train

Kopecky will have a busy summer with the Tour de France Femmes on her schedule following the Giro d’Italia. She is going to both races with the intention of taking stage victories.

With a spring stage on the Champs Elysees opening the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, Kopecky will be among the favorites to take the first yellow jersey of the race. It’s not the first time that the women’s peloton will race on the famous boulevard, with the first three editions of La Course finishing on it, but Kopecky says this visit will be much more prestigious.

“I think it will be. If you win this stage, you have your jersey, green jersey, I mean, you’re the leader of the Tour de France, I think it will be bigger than winning La Course,” she said. “I think winning La Course is already nice, but I think with the yellow jersey, everything around, for me at least it would be bigger.”

The Tour de France Femmes has been a long time coming and there’s little doubt that it has captured the imagination of riders and fans. However, the outside interest from non-cycling media seems particularly heightened and the buzz around the race is only growing further.

While there are equally prestigious races already on the women’s calendar, the amount of attention that the Tour de France Femmes is already getting adds a little bit extra for some. As has already been seen in the men’s side of the sport, the worldwide spotlight that the Tour de France name brings has a big significance.

“I think that the attention really makes it this important, also for the men. This is just a super nice race and it is a Tour de France. I hope it’s going to be as exciting as we now think it will be but I think every rider is really eager for this selection for this Tour de France,” Kopecky said.

“You can feel how much attention there is already for this race. Okay, it’s been ridden before, but that was a completely different time. For me, it’s just the first Tour de France that there is for women. You just can feel everybody’s super excited for this race. I think taking this yellow jersey or winning a stage in the Tour de France is going to be super important for so many teams.”