La Course by Le Tour de France could expand from its original one-day event along the Champs-Elysees to a multi-day race in 2017. But not everyone is pleased with the expansion, including organisers of the Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen, that have been forced to change their original July race dates at the last minute. Race organisers stated they have been asked by the UCI to change their event dates from July 14-20 to July 12-18.
Rumours about a possible expansion of La Course circulated on Twitter on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday morning, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) that organise the event told The Guardian that although it could not confirm an expansion of the women's race, the event will have a different format in 2017.
The criterium-style circuit race was added to the inaugural Women's WorldTour this year but has always attracted a world-class field in its three-year existence. Although riders and teams have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to have a one-day event run alongside the men's Tour de France, many have also questioned why ASO hasn't organised an official women's stage race.
The inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France was held in 2014. It is held in conjunction with the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris and held along the same final circuit on the famed Champs Elysees.
Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) won the first edition of the race and her teammate Anna van der Breggen won the rain-soaked event in 2015. This year, the race was added to the inaugural and prestigious Women's WorldTour. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High5) won the race from a crash-marred final sprint ahead of Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla)in second and Vos third.
Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen forced to change dates
Organisers of the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen have been asked to move their event out of its current July slot on the women's UCI calendar to accommodate for the possibility of La Course expanding to a stage race.
ASO has positioned La Course on the last day of the Tour de France, this year it was held on July 24. However, the Thüringen Rundfahrt, a long-running German stage race, which was classed as a 2.1 event this year, ran from July 15-21.
Next year, Germany will host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France on July 1 and it will finish in Paris on July 23.
Organisers of Thüringen Rundfahrt, and director Vera Hohlfeld, announced on the event's website that it has been asked by the UCI to change their event dates from July 14-20 to July 12-18 instead. They were given notice only one day ahead of the UCI's 2017 women's calendar release date.
Hohlfeld praised the addition of a multi-day event for La Course, but also expressed frustration at having to change their event's dates on such short notice, calling it "unfair".
The race had planned a special 30th anniversary celebration during the original dates, and now have to accommodate the date changes with their host cities.
"I am so angry about this recklessness that suddenly throws up our long-term plans," Hohlfeld said. "We have been in talks with our future stages, service providers and sponsors for months and have negotiated long-term appointments.
"We had a very positive response to our tour this year. The race was also very strong just before the Olympic Games this summer. We want to maintain this high level, shape new ideas and [now we] have to deal with such inconsiderate behaviour."