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The Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta has rebranded itself and will change its name to La Vuelta España Femenina for the 2023 season.
A potential rebrand has been on the cards for some time with the UCI listing it on its 2023 calendar as La Vuelta Femenina for several months. However, the name change was made official last week when it was ratified by the union of race organizers — the Association International des Organisateurs de Courses Cyclistes (AIOCC) — at its general assembly on Compiègne, according to Spanish publication AS.
The name change comes as the race is set to expand from five to seven stages for next year, making it the third longest race on the Women’s WorldTour calendar behind the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift and the Giro d’Italia Donne.
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The rebrand brings the race more in line with the men’s Vuelta a España and sees the organizers set out their stall to make the event the third women’s grand tour.
However, it may need to do more than just rename itself to place itself in that slot.
This year’s race winner, Annemiek van Vleuten, said that the Spanish stage race was not ready to be called a grand tour as it was not yet hard enough.
“The Vuelta is not ready to call itself a grand tour yet,” Van Vleuten said on her website in September. “It’s a five-day stage race that I’m really looking forward to, but with an average of 96 kilometers per day, I hope that the organization will wake up and see why the Giro and Tour can be called a grand tour, but theirs not. In many respects, they are still in the beginning of this course.”
The women’s Vuelta has run under a couple of guises and formats since it was launched in 2015. American Shelley Olds won the inaugural edition, which was an 87km criterium around the center of Madrid on the final day of the men’s Vuelta. In 2018, a second day was added to the event and then a third in 2020.
A fourth and then fifth day were added in the subsequent two years with the addition of two more days for 2023 the biggest single jump in the event’s history.
In addition to the name change, the race is due to be moved to May from its usual September slot for at least next season due to a slight reformation of the calendar to accommodate the UCI’s first multi-discipline world championships in Glasgow at the beginning of August.
It will be the first time that the race has not run concurrently with the men’s event. The route of the race is yet to be unveiled and it’s unclear if it will be done at the same time as the men’s course announcement in January.