As the New Year’s eve hangovers fade into the distance, the beginning of the Women’s WorldTour calendar looms into view.
While there are a few tweaks to the calendar, the format still remains much the same. The opening months of the season will be dominated by one-day races through the classics, with stage racing taking over in May.
There are more race days than ever in the 2023 Women’s WorldTour with a total of 30 events totaling 86 days of racing across three continents. It is the most ambitious WorldTour calendar for the women since it was introduced back in 2016.
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Some riders have already kicked off their years with the Bay Cycling Classic in Geelong, Australia, but things will really get going at the end of next week with the Tour Down Under. The women’s Down Under has been a staple of the calendar since 2016, but this season sees it join the top tier for the first time.
This means that there are two Australian races on the WorldTour calendar, with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race making a return for the first time since 2020 due to a COVID-19-induced break.
Another new entry onto the 2023 calendar is the four-day UAE Tour, which is a completely new event this season. The women have raced in the Middle East in the past with the now-defunct Tour of Qatar — which was run by Tour de France organizer ASO — but this sees them return after a long break.
Following the Middle Eastern trip, there will be no more WorldTour stage races until May with the classics taking hold as we move into the spring.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche will provide some opportunities for the more climbing-inclined riders, such as Annemiek van Vleuten, but the sprinters take over through the rest of March.
The Tour of Flanders at the beginning of April will see Van Vleuten and co. come back to the bunch as we head toward the hilly classics. After swapping weekends to make way for local elections, Paris-Roubaix and the Amstel Gold Race are back in their rightful positions. Liège-Bastogne-Liège rounds off the spring series of one-day events.
The summer of stage racing
May, as ever, will be the domain of the Spanish stage races, but there is a major difference for 2023. Due to the so-called “super worlds” the newly rebranded La Vuelta Femenina has been moved from September to May.
At seven days, La Vuelta becomes the third-longest women’s race, behind the 10-day Giro d’Italia and eight-day Tour de France Femmes. With additional financial backing from supermarket chain Carrefour, there is hope that the 2023 La Vuelta Femenina will see a more challenging course than in previous years.
Following the Spanish sojourn, a brief visit to the UK follows before the third edition of the Tour de Suisse. RideLondon, the Women’s Tour, and Suisse provide a solid build-up to the grand tour month of July.
Once again, there will be two weeks between the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes. After experiencing this grand tour doubleheader for the first time in 2022, the bunch will have a better idea how to manage both races.
It remains to be seen if more will follow the path of Van Vleuten and tackle both.
We don’t yet know what the Giro route will look like but the Tour organizers, ASO, have put on a new-look route for the French race with a short and sharp stage up the Tourmalet and a time trial to finish.
Van Vleuten remains the big favorite for both major races this summer, and she’ll be as keen as ever to win them as she looks toward retirement at the end of the year. Can her rivals close the gap?
After the Tour de France Femmes, the women’s WorldTour goes on hold for the multi-discipline world championships at the beginning of August with the Vårgårda WestSweden kicking things off again on August 19.
A mixture of stage races and one-day events follow with the WorldTour heading to China to close out the season. The Tour of Chongming Island and the Tour of Guangxi have not been raced since 2019 with COVID-19 shutting down the Chinese border to sporting events ever since.
With lots of restrictions being lifted in China in recent months, the chances of these races taking place this year have drastically increased, but they’re far from a certainty right now.
2023 Women’s WorldTour calendar
|15-17 January||Santos Tour Down Under|
|28 January||Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race|
|9-12 February||UAE Tour|
|25 February||Omloop Het Nieuwsblad|
|4 March||Strade Bianche|
|11 March||Ronde van Drenthe|
|19 March||Trofeo Alfredo Binda|
|23 March||Classic Brugge-De Panne|
|2 April||Tour of Flanders|
|8 April||Paris-Roubaix Femmes|
|16 April||Amstel Gold Race|
|19 April||Flèche Wallonne|
|1-7 May||La Vuelta Femenina|
|12-14 May||Itzulia Women|
|18-21 May||Vuelta a Burgos|
|26-28 May||RideLondon Classique|
|6-11 June||Women’s Tour|
|17-20 June||Tour de Suisse|
|30 June-9 July||Giro d’Italia Donne|
|23-30 July||Tour de France Femmes|
|19 August||Vårgårda WestSweden TTT|
|20 August||Vårgårda WestSweden RR|
|22-27 August||Tour of Scandinavia|
|2 September||Classic Lorient Agglomération-Trophée Ceratizit|
|5-10 September||Simac Ladies Tour|
|15-17 September||Tour de Romandie Féminin|
|12-14 October||Tour of Chongming Island|
|17 October||Tour of Guangxi|