Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) will line up to race at the Tour de Suisse women's event held on June 5 and 6 in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. The Swiss champion applauded organisers for bringing together a women's race during the COVID-19 pandemic but hopes that they will increase it to a five-day race, or longer, and apply to be part of the Women's WorldTour in future editions.
"It’s nice to have a race like this in Switzerland because people can discover the nice areas for cycling that we have here." Chabbey told Cyclingnews. "During this COVID situation, it’s even harder to organise something new, too, and it shows that anything is possible in this situation, and that is really nice.
"I’m happy to wear the Swiss national champion’s jersey there. I hope I am able to show it, be in the front and race aggressively."
Last month, organisers announced a women's UCI 2.1 Tour de Suisse slated to take place as an opening act for the men’s eight-day Tour de Suisse. The race organisers have not yet secured full funding but are confident they can raise money from current sponsors. They are also expected to use unspent funds from the 2020 World Championships that were originally planned in Aigle-Martigny, but were moved to Imola, Italy, due to Switzerland's COVID-19 restrictions.
"It’s weird because we have the money in Switzerland and they organise the race for the men very well, and it’s stable, so I don’t see why two days of racing for women won’t happen. I don’t think money is a problem," Chabbey said.
It is not the first Tour de Suisse for women, as there was a five-day event held in 2001 and won by American all-rounder Kim Baldwin. Former Swiss Champion Doris Schweizer (Team Illuminate), who won two road titles and two time trial titles during her career, believes the event should be elevated with the same days of racing as the men's eight-day event with equal prize payouts.
"It's a mini-edition beside the men's race... there is no sponsor! There was a real TdSWomen in the past. It's hypocritic [sic]. It's like a Tour de Suisse miniature. I'd absolutely love to see a real Tour on the same level = equal race days, equal prize money," Schweizer wrote in a post on Twitter.
The event will start out as a two-day race this June but organisers have hinted that they plan to expand the event with more stages in future. Chabbey believes a top-tier Tour de Suisse for women would have a big impact on women's cycling.
"That would be really cool, and if it could become a WorldTour race, where everyone comes to race ...," Chabbey said. "That could give some nice exposure for cycling in Switzerland, and to also show that women are professional cyclists, too.
"The men’s race is quite a big race in Switzerland and a lot of people watch it. It’s nice that there is a women’s race for people to watch, too, and I hope they really enjoy it. The women's race will start out with two stages but they want to do a bit more in future, to five days. That would be cool if it were a bit longer, or the same as the men’s."
Chabbey expects many of the top-tier teams to compete at the Tour de Suisse this year because of its early-June slot on the calendar. The Women's Tour was initially scheduled for June 7-12 but has been postponed until October, leaving a gap in the late-spring calendar.
"I was supposed to do the Women’s Tour so now that it’s changed dates, I will be able to race in Switzerland," Chabbey said. "There aren’t many races in June and so maybe it will help, too, to get more teams racing there. If we give a race that is interesting and nice to watch, people will enjoy it."
It's a mini-edition beside the mens race...🤔 there is NO sponsor! There was a real TdSWomen in the past. It's hypocritic. It's like a Tour de Suisse miniature. I'd absolutely love to see a real Tour on the SAME level = equal race days, equal prize money!April 27, 2021
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