Before the road season has begun, a win for women’s cycling: The Women’s Tour, formally known as the OVO Women’s Tour, will be broadcast live in 2021.
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On Monday, Women’s Tour organizer SweetSpot announced a partnership with Eurosport and Global Cycling Network (GCN) that will see the Women’s Tour produced for live coverage for the first time in its six-year history. The race is frequently lauded by the women’s peloton for its challenging stages and the professionalism of the organizer; now, the world will be able to see the action unfold on the screen.
“The Women’s Tour is already a highlight of the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar with fantastic crowds and support in the UK but to add live television coverage really takes it to the next level,” said reigning Women’s Tour champion Lizzie Deignan.
In the past, all six editions of the six-day British stage race have had a comprehensive highlights package shown free in the UK. However, highlights rarely convey the magic of the race.
The dearth of live coverage of women’s professional cycling is often cited as an obstacle to the development of the sport. Last year, the spotlight shone particularly bright on the issue, as the Giro Rosa, long-considered the marquee event of the women’s calendar, failed to provide the UCI-mandated 45-minutes of live coverage per day. Shortly after the race ended in October, it was announced that it was losing its WorldTour status and being downgraded to 2.Pro. Although neither the organizers nor the UCI gave an explanation for the race’s reduction in status, its fault was obvious.
Launched in 2014, the Women’s Tour has grown up in the Giro Rosa’s shadow, yet live coverage could finally bring it into the light.
The six-day event, which was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled for June 7-12, 2021, and will take place between Oxfordshire and Suffolk. Route details have not been announced.
The partnership between SweetSpot and the global television networks includes a five-year alliance that will bring the Women’s Tour, as well as the Tour of Britain, to an audience of millions of viewers through digital platforms and channels such as the Eurosport App, GCN+, and Discovery+ in selected markets. In addition, the partnership will see Eurosport handle the rights distribution for both events across Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, Oceania, and South America.