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Women may have to wait at least three years for U23 world championship road race

There has never been a U23 women's race at the world road championships, while men have had one since 1996.

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The women’s peloton will have to wait for a standalone U23 race at the world championships.

UCI president David Lappartient said that an individual U23 race was “on the agenda” but it would be at least two or three more years before it can be realized.

The topic will be discussed at an upcoming Management Committee meeting and an integrated U23 and elite women’s event would likely be the course of action for the forthcoming seasons.

“This is something that is on the agenda of the UCI management committee next week here in Switzerland,” Lappartient said. “The UCI wants to implement this is race but more probably for the first two or three years as part of the of the women’s race with clearly two titles two podium – one for elite one for U23 and the other one is also for [the] time trial.”

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Lappartient was speaking during a press conference about the 2023 combined world championships in Glasgow. The 11-day event will feature 13 cycling disciplines, including road, track, and mountain biking.

The Frenchman, who is in his second term as president, said that plans are being made to introduce a U23 jersey soon, but an extra race was unlikely to be on the schedule.

“There will be a specific jersey, this will be the proposition from the UCI management committee with a goal that is clear for us to have a specific and dedicated race,” he said. “That is something that will be discussed among the Management Committee members next week in Switzerland and the announcement will come in the press release at the end of next week.

“But clearly, this is something that we wanted to do at the other UCI, but not in 2023. Most probably that will be clear two titles but for an independent race [we] will make an announcement in the future.”

Lappartient has previously spoken about the idea of integrating a U23 category into the elite women’s race during last year’s road world championships.

The idea was largely met with disapproval from the women’s peloton, and a survey conducted by the riders’ union, The Cyclists Alliance, showed that 97 percent of riders preferred a standalone event. In the same survey, 52 percent of the respondents said that they would accept an integrated race as a “first step” but 42 percent said they would not.

There has never been a U23 road race for the women’s peloton, while the men have had the category since 1996.

“I wish there was a separate U23 category because I don’t think the dynamic would work between the elite and the U23 riders just because of the dynamics of who qualifies, how big the field is, and the level also,” former junior world champion Megan Jastrab told VeloNews last October. “We want the U23 category to be a stepping-stone to elites. If you put the U23 level in the elites then you’re missing the point of having a U23 category as a stepping-stone.

“There should more equality in the women’s elite field and the men’s. If you add U23s then are you taking away start spots for the women? How does the qualification work? If you have full rosters for one country then it just doesn’t make sense. The winner should be the first to cross the line, it shouldn’t be in the pack finish, that’s bike racing and competition. It should be its own race if you’re going to have a category.”

At this time, there is no indication if there will be any changes made to the size of the field if an integrated race is held.