The first-ever Women’s Tour de Suisse is two months away, and race organizers don’t yet have the funding in hand to make the event a reality.
In a press conference on Thursday, race organizers and members of Swiss Cycling announced that they have not yet received the reimbursed funds from the canceled world championships in Aigle-Martigny last fall — which were required to organize the inaugural women’s event. The two-day stage race, which is scheduled for June 5-6, is now in serious jeopardy of being canceled.
“We will soon have to decide whether to organize the Tour de Suisse Women or to cancel it, and we want to organize it,” said Patrick Hunger, co-president of Swiss Cycling and president of the Tour de Suisse.
However, according to a report in Swiss Cycling magazine, Swiss Cycling, the country’s governing body, is unwilling to take on an additional financial burden to organize the race without the anticipated reimbursement.
Swiss Cycling is the primary player behind the new event, and the governing body is now trying to drum up support for the women’s Tour de Suisse through the #fastandfemaleSUI campaign which was started a year and a half ago to promote advances in female athlete development, as well as amateur and professional events like the Women’s Tour de Suisse.
“For our association, gender equivalence is of the highest relevance,” said Thomas Peter, CEO of Swiss Cycling. “We founded the funding project #fastandfemaleSUI a year and a half ago because we have a lot of untapped potential in women’s cycling, because we want to offer our young cyclists something – because we have to do justice to social realities.”
Nevertheless, the federal funds that were not used for road worlds and were thus earmarked for the Women’s Tour de Suisse, have not materialized.
A crowdfunding campaign has been started by Swiss Cycling with its #fastandfemaleSUI project. A number of members of the Swiss National Team have taken to social media to state their support for the project, including Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing), Marlen Reusser (Alé BTC Ljubljana Cipollini), and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM).