Fewer opportunities for Olympic qualification points with French race's end
The UCI's women's calendar has lost the Tour Languedoc Roussillon, a French 2.2 stage race which was to be one of the final events in which riders could accumulate points toward the nations rankings used to allocate places for the women's road race in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Race organisers made the announcement to the registered teams today, stating that the race had support from the regional council and its other partners, and said it would give the reasons for the race's cancellation in the coming days.
The race, scheduled for May 18-23, was the final European stage race before the UCI's May 31 deadline for the qualification of London Olympic Game places. The top five nations in the rankings receive four places in the women's road race, while the next five get three. Currently, Great Britain, the USA and Sweden are in a tight race for the fourth and fifth places behind The Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
Sweden's Emma Johansson and her Hitec Products-Mistral Home team will now take part in the Tour de Free State in South Africa on May 23-27, she confirmed to Cyclingnews.
"It is sad that another race is taken off the UCI calendar and that the teams get to know this so late," Johansson said. "I do my best to promote women's cycling and hope my contributions with a positive and open media relation can make a small difference. I know the race organizers do their best and with an difficult economically year cycling also have to take their share."
Johansson has been the main generator of UCI points for Sweden, together with Emilia Fahlin (Specialized-lululemon), but Johansson's start to the season was impacted by a crash in training that left her with two fractured collarbones.
"It has been a difficult start of the season for me and I know my points are important. There are a lot of Swedish riders in pro teams and we all have to do our best now to deserve as many spots as possible... I'm happy that my team, Hitec Products-Mistral Home, and the organizer of the Tour de Free State have given us a chance to race in such a important period regarding the Olympic Games coming up."
The UCI women's tour has expanded in the Olympic year, but has lost a number of important races in recent years, the biggest of which was the Tour de l'Aude. The Tour Languedoc Roussillon was seen as a potential replacement for that race.
Organisers indicated that the event will go forward in the future, and details will be announced soon.