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NYBORG, Denmark (VN) — The Giro d’Italia Donne could move from its usual July slot as soon as 2023 under plans by the UCI to reform the women’s racing calendar.
The Italian grand tour is traditionally raced in the opening two weeks of July, but it has gradually been encroached upon by recent new additions to the calendar. This year, it will finish two weeks before the revived Tour de France Femmes.
UCI president David Lappartient says that the governing body is having discussions with the Giro organizer in an effort to move the race for next season. He believes that moving the race could be beneficial for the Giro d’Italia Donne as it would no longer clash with the men’s Tour de France.
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“We’re working with the Giro d’Italia Donne to think about another date for 2023,” Lappartient said during a visit to the men’s Tour de France. “Also for the visibility of the ladies to have this race during the Tour de France it’s quite difficult to be seen, and the Giro d’Italia Donne is also a wonderful race.
“We are working on different options for 2023 first but maybe on a long-term strategy with no overlapping in the women’s calendar to avoid some big clashes like this. The date in July will probably not be the one in the future.”
Many of the WorldTour teams have been stretched thin by the record-breaking size of the top tier of the women’s calendar, in part due to COVID-19, with some fielding vastly reduced squads at some races. Lappartient said that the changes would help ease the strain for squads, most of which have between 14 and 16 riders.
“We have only 14 WorldTour teams. We hope to reach 15, which is the goal for us, and we have no overlapping in between the different races,” he said. “We will really stick to this because we don’t want overlapping because the size of the women’s teams are not the same as the men’s and if you have it then you will lose visibility and the teams themselves will not be able to ride both, so this is why we want to do this.”
From the ground up
While the top tier of women’s cycling continues to expand, Lappartient added that it cannot continue to do so forever and the UCI was also looking to grow the roots of the sport.
“At the end, there will be a certain limit to the calendar. Even if you don’t have overlapping, if you go from February with potentially Down Under next year to the end of the season, that’s also a long season, with teams that are not the same size,” he said. “They don’t have 28 or 30 like it is for the men. We are in close discussions but the goal for us is also to enlarge from the bottom.
“We also have to have more races for the ladies in the national federations. You can’t have the pyramid the wrong way around. For this, we need to enlarge from the roots and that won’t happen in a day.”
“I’m so happy because we’ve been pushing so hard to have this Tour de France for women. I spoke with the Amaury Group (ASO), I spoke passionately with Mrs. Amaury and I said it’s time for the Tour de France [for women] to come back and I really welcome this, that will really give a big opportunity for the ladies to be seen worldwide and to have a wonderful race. To have the start of this race on the finishing day for the Tour de France, it will give a massive window for the world.”
The Women’s WorldTour has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2016 with a lot of races applying to become a part of it. Getting on to the series comes with some requirements and the UCI has become much more forceful with enforcing them.
RideLondon Classique was recently punished by the UCI for failing to uphold its television obligations of at least 45 minutes of live coverage per day of racing. The British race only supplied live coverage for the last of its three stages and it has been temporarily demoted from the WorldTour for 2023.
Lappartient said that the organizer is working to rectify that for next season and it could still be part of the WorldTour if it can ensure a live broadcast for the event.
“There is still a possibility, but it’s mandatory under the UCI specifications to have live TV so it’s clear that it was something we were asking for,” Lappartient said. “We know they are working on it, because they came back to us last week, and I hope they can finalize an agreement and be secure in the WorldTour because it’s a nice race.”