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The organizer of the Tour de l’Avenir has announced that it will hold a women’s race from 2023.
Alpes Vélo, which runs the race with assistance from Tour de France organizer ASO, unveiled its plans in a press conference in Morzine during the Tour’s second rest day.
The Tour de l’Avenir is one of the most prestigious races for under-23 riders and its past winners include Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal, David Gaudu, and Nairo Quintana.
It started in 1961 as a race for amateurs and semi-professionals but was restricted to U23 riders in 1992. It has never had an equivalent female race.
“As of next year, the Tour de l’Avenir will be followed by a women’s version, contested under the same format and open to up-and-coming cyclists under the age of twenty-three, in perfect harmony with the general movement initiated this year with the Women’s Tour de France,” a press release from Alpes Vélo said.
“The women’s Tour de l’Avenir will take place over five days and will start on the Wednesday following the arrival of the men’s event.”
The Tour de l’Avenir is raced by a mixture of national teams and regional French teams, with the men’s event running over 10 days. It is traditionally held in August and finishes on a Sunday, which would mean a two-day gap between the men’s and women’s events.
In recent years, there has been criticism about the lack of racing opportunities for U23 female riders with many forced to go into top-level racing right out of the junior ranks.
Bowing to pressure from the women’s peloton the UCI announced it would have a U23 women’s category for the first time at the world championships this year. However, it will not see new events added to the program with the younger riders competing alongside the elites in the same race.