Buckle up, the 2022 season is fast approaching.
This year will see the seventh running of the Women’s WorldTour calendar, which was introduced in 2016 as part of the push to develop women’s cycling.
With the introduction of the Tour de France Femmes and other new races, and the return of some familiar ones, such as the Giro d’Italia Donne and the RideLondon Classique, the 2022 WorldTour calendar is bigger than ever.
This is despite the coronavirus pandemic still causing upheaval to the calendar, which means the peloton is still unable to travel to Australia for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Meanwhile, some races have been axed to make place for some of the new races, and the stateside visit to the Tour of California is once again missing from the schedule of races.
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One-day races still dominate the calendar, with 14 events, but there is a growing number of stage races with 11 this season.
With no trip down under, the Women’s WorldTour doesn’t start until March, but it runs all the way until October.
Let’s delve in and see where and when the peloton will be racing in 2022.
When: March 3
Strade Bianche has become a firm fixture on the women’s calendar since it was introduced in 2015. Its dusty white roads have delivered some brilliant racing over the years, not least last year when SD Worx worked over the peloton to deliver Chantal van den Broek-Blaak to the win ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini. It is a great curtain opener.
Ronde van Drenthe
When: March 13
After a cancelation in 2020 and postponement to October last season, the Ronde van Drenthe returns to its usual March spot in the calendar. Despite being a WorldTour event, the one-day race doesn’t get the hype it deserves. With climbs and cobbles to contend with, this is a tough race. Lorena Wiebes is the defending champion here.
Trofeo Alfredo Binda- Comune di Cittiglio
When: March 20
This is one of the oldest women’s races on the calendar and one of the few that does not have a connected men’s race. Like Drenthe, it is often overlooked amid the other big-name one-day races in the early part of the calendar. The Trofeo Alfredo Binda features laps of a circuit around Cittiglio. The course is marked by two significant climbs, Casalsuigno and Orino, which often form the basis of stinging attacks. Elisa Longo Borghini won in 2021 with a solo attack.
Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne
When: March 24
This was introduced back in 2018 following a calendar change for the men’s event that led to a shake-up of its format. Instead of a three-day men’s competition, it would be a two-day event with a one-day women’s race and a single-day race for the men. It features plenty of cobbles and climbs, but it often ends in a sizeable bunch sprint. However, Grace Brown defied the odds last year with a solo attack to beat the pack by seven seconds.
When: March 27
Strictly speaking, this year will be the ninth edition of the UCI race as the first two editions were not UCI classified. Despite this, it still attracted a stellar field with Lizzie Deignan and Kirsten Wild winning in 2012 and 2013 respectively. It did eventually get UCI classification and now sits on the WorldTour calendar. Amazingly, only Wild has won the race twice after she took the title for the second time in 2019. Marianne Vos won the race for the first time last year.
Tour of Flanders
When: April 3
First introduced in 2004, the women’s edition of the Tour of Flanders has flourished over the last two decades. At over 150k, it is one of the longest one-day races on the women’s calendar and pits the peloton against some of the toughest climbs in Flanders. Last year, Annemiek van Vleuten romped away from the remnants of the bunch on the brutally steep Paterberg to solo to her second De Ronde win 10 years after her first.
Amstel Gold Race
When: April 10
The Amstel Gold Race finds itself in the unusual situation of being sandwiched between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix Femmes this season. The change is a result of local elections in northern France and the Amstel Gold Race organizers graciously agreed to switch dates for 2022 so Roubaix could go ahead. The change could put a different complexion on the race but it remains to be seen what the impact will be. Marianne Vos won here in 2021 with a superb sprint to the line.
When: April 17
After years of speculation and COVID-19 induced delays, the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes was finally held in October last year. Lizzie Deignan got the prestigious honor of being the first winner with her day-long attack, which began on the first cobbled sector. It’s not quite back in its normal slot due to the week’s delay, but it is still likely to be a different prospect now it’s back in April.
Flèche Wallonne Femmes
When: April 20
While many of the races around it are relatively recent, Flèche Wallonne Femmes is a longstanding fixture on the calendar. The 2022 edition will be the first without Anna van der Breggen since her retirement and so there will definitely be a new winner. Van der Breggen is the undisputed queen of the Mur de Huy, and she took an incredible seven consecutive titles. Who will be the first to win in the post-AVDB era?
When: April 24
This race has evolved over its short stint on the women’s calendar with last year’s 141k offering the longest so far. The route features some of the most iconic climbs in the region, which serve to split the peloton up. Last year, just five riders made it into the front group with Demi Vollering taking a lead-out from Anna van der Breggen to sprint to the biggest win of her career so far.
When: May 13-15
Where: Basque Country, Spain
This race was due to happen for the first time last year but organizers decided to delay it by 12 months and focus on a women’s San Sebastián instead. With the one-day race set to fall by the wayside this year due to its slot being taken over by the Tour de France Femmes, the organizers have created a stage race through the Basque Country for 2022. The three-day race will be the first WorldTour stage race of the year.
Vuelta a Burgos Feminas
When: May 19-22
After initially beginning as a national event, the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas has climbed the UCI ranks and was part of the WorldTour for the first time in 2021. With the Itzulia Women event taking place just a few days ahead of it, the peloton will have a good stretch of racing in Spain. Anna van der Breggen beat Annemiek van Vleuten by three seconds last year in an exciting battle for the overall title last year.
When: May 27-29
Where: United Kingdom
There is a valid argument for this being the first edition of the race given that it is so different from its previous incarnation. The first four editions were basically a glorified criterium, but after two years away due to COVID, the event returns as a fully-fledged stage race. It is also now a standalone event for the women with the men’s race being canceled. The route is yet to be announced but it will venture outside London following a partnership with the Essex County Council.
When: June 6-11
Where: United Kingdom
The Women’s Tour is back in its usual June slot after taking place in October last year due to COVID restrictions in the UK. With the introduction of the RideLondon Classique in a new place in the calendar, the organizers hope to create a strong stretch of racing in the UK. Last year’s race was a very sprint-heavy affair due to the limitations posed by the coronavirus pandemic, but the race is usually a hilly affair with plenty of tough roads. Will it return to that in 2022? We don’t know yet, but we hope it will be live on TV this time.
Giro d’Italia Donne
When: July 1-10
The race was rebranded last year following its demotion from the WorldTour. With time to reflect on the reasons for that, the organizers beefed up its offering in 2021 with better support for the teams, riders, and the media, it also managed to get a live broadcast organized for the first time. By stepping up its game, the race has earned its place back in the WorldTour and will kick off a summer of grand tour racing. At 10 days, it’s still the longest race on the calendar.
Tour de France Femmes
When: July 24-31
While the race did take place under various guises, this is the first organized by ASO — which also organizes the men’s race. There is a lot of hype around this race, for obvious reasons, and ASO seems determined to live up to that hype. The race will begin in Paris on the final day of the men’s event and then head east to finish on the Planches des Belles Filles in the Vosges. The battle for the first victory should be an exciting one.
Open de Suède Vårgårda – TTT
When: August 6
The Suède Vårgårda TTT is the only standalone team time trial event on the women’s calendar. Though it is part of a two-day series of races, it is an independent event and does not have any bearing on the results of the following day. It was set to be absorbed into the new Battle of the North race, but it pulled out and decided to keep its unique place on the calendar.
Open de Suède Vårgårda
When: August 7
The road race at the Open de Suède Vårgårda has been running two years longer than the team time trial. It is not a straightforward sprint race as it features some climbing, but it usually ends with a sprinter taking the honors at the end of the day. Marianne Vos has the win record at the moment with three victories, while Marta Bastianelli was the last victor back in 2019.
Battle of the North
When: August 9-14
Where: Sweden, Norway, Denmark
Despite the Suède Vårgårda organizers pulling the plug on their support, the Battle of the North is still scheduled to go ahead with visits to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark across six days of racing. The race is backed by the organizer of the Ladies Tour of Norway, which began back in 2014. The full details of the route have not been unveiled but we can expect some tough terrain and beautiful scenery as the riders traverse Scandinavia.
GP Lorient Agglomération – Trophée Ceratizit
When: August 27
This race is also known casually as the GP de Plouay. It takes place over a tough circuit that features plenty of climbs that whittle down the bunch rapidly. Riders willing to attack often come out with the spoils and the last few editions have either been taken solo or from a small group. Last year saw Elisa Longo Borghini charge away on the final lap to win by 12 seconds over the chasing pack.
Simac Ladies Tour
When: August 30 – September 4
It has had several different names, but this race has been around for some time. It features a mixture of hilly and flat stages with some time trialing, too. The winner at this race has to be a good all-rounder and must also be good at positioning within the bunch. With tight and narrow roads, riders can very easily find themselves stuck in the pack or caught up in a crash at key moments. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak took the win last year thanks to her TT skills and getting into a break following a crash in the bunch on stage 3.
Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta
When: September 7-11
Originally a one-day race that coincided with the final day of the men’s Vuelta a España, the Challenge by La Vuelta has spread its wings in recent years. Last year’s race was expanded to four days and featured some days in the mountains as it moved to Galicia for the first time. This year sees it expanded to a fifth day of racing.
Tour de Romandie
When: October 7-9
The Tour de Romandie was a late addition to the Women’s WorldTour calendar with it being given WWT status in September. The event has been a long-running one for the men but there have been few top-level Swiss races for the women’s peloton over the years. With a Tour de Suisse introduced to the calendar last year, the Tour de Romandie doubles the offering. It’s likely to be a race for the climbers.
Tour of Chongming Island
When: October 13-15
The Tour of Chongming Island has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19 and this year could well go the same way with the pandemic still raging around the world. It has been pushed back to October to give it the best chance of going ahead. This is definitely one for the sprinters and previous overall winners include Lorena Wiebes, Jolien D’hoore, and Kirsten Wild.
Tour of Guangxi
When: October 18
Like Chongming, the Tour of Guangxi has felt the strain of the pandemic in the last two years and hasn’t been held since 2019. With the pushing back of Chongming to October, the peloton has a longer stretch in China and saves the riders trekking across the world for a single day. It is another offering for the sprinters in the peloton with Chloe Hosking the last winner.