The Volta a Catalunya organisers have announced that they will hold a one-day women's race to coincide with the final stage of this year's men's WorldTour race. The new event will feature the historic Montjuïc street circuit in Barcelona, which includes the twisting, dragging climb past the Font del Gat.
"The project, which is in its initial phase, has the full support of the government of Catalunya and Barcelona City Council, and is born as other women's race have recently done at the Tour de France with La Course (four editions) or the Vuelta with the Madrid Challenge (three editions)," the press release stated.
"The organisation of the race wants to give a boost to women's cycling and will create this test that was born with the aim of consolidating itself over the years."
A hilly Montjuïc circuit
Further details about the race are to be released in the coming weeks but it will take place ahead of the final stage of the men's event, which will also utilise the Montjuïc circuit. The street circuit around Montjuïc park has been a regular feature of the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya and regularly attracts huge crowds, which the organisers are hoping to make the most of for the women's event.
"We want to bet on women's sport and with this new test where the women's teams will have a new, important challenge where they can stand out at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. We hope to see a good show in this first edition and grow over the years," said race director Ruben Peris.
The roads around Montjuïc park have been used for racing, be on a bike or in a car, from as early as 1923. It was used for Formula One races between 1968 and 1975 and, perhaps fittingly, is where Lella Lombardi became the only women to score a world championship point.
The route around the park is a hilly, technical one that lends its self to those who can handle the climbs but have a fast finish in their repertoire. Alejandro Valverde has been particularly successful on this route, winning twice in the last three years.
The race is due to take part on March 25, which means that it will clash with Gent-Wevelgem. It is not yet clear what UCI classification the race will hold.