UCI adds under-23 women’s category for world cyclocross championships

The 2016 worlds will include a new category for women aged 17-22 years old, and the UCI announces it will increase World Cup pay-out

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced Friday that it will add a new women’s under-23 category to the world cyclocross championships, starting in the upcoming 2015-2016 season.

Members of the UCI Management Committee met in Aigle, Switzerland last week and approved the modifications to the UCI Regulations for cyclocross. The new women’s under-23 category will be included in the 2016 worlds in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium.

“Today is an important step towards greater men-women equality in terms of participation and remuneration in the cyclo-cross discipline,” UCI president Brian Cookson said in a written statement. “These measures will help develop women’s cycling, one of the pillars of our strategic development plan.”

This new category will also apply to Continental Championships and — for the national federations that wish to follow suit — to national championships. USA Cycling’s national cyclocross championships has included an under-23 women’s category, but it was folded into the elite women’s race, with the same start time. Ellen Noble (JAM Fund), 20, won the 2015 title.

The prize money for this new worlds category will be equal to that of the men’s under-23 category.

The UCI also noted that it will increase the overall prize money distributed to women for the UCI cyclocross World Cup by more than 50 percent.

“The UCI began to introduce equal prize money to its World Championships in 2013 on the occasion of the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Louisville,” Cookson continued.

“I am really happy with the progress the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission is making for women in the discipline,” said Helen Wyman (Kona) in the statement, a member of the UCI Cyclo-Cross Commission. “The increase in prize money for women, particularly in the UCI World Cup, is fantastic. Offering this kind of reward enables the sport to keep its star riders and ensure the exciting level of competition we have been privileged to experience in the last few seasons. With Marianne Vos now joining the Commission as the riders’ representative, we now have two female members. This allows us as to take this sport in the right direction for everyone, male and female. These are exciting times for cyclo-cross and I can not wait to continue the progress we have already made.”