UCI Vice President Tracey Gaudry has called the inaugural Women's WorldTour a breakthrough in women's cycling upon the series conclusion at La Madrid Challenge in September. She stressed that the series increased the demand for women's cycling but that the next step will be to raise the series profile and access for cycling fans.
"Next year, it's about raising the profile of the platform to the outside world," Gaudry said. "The challenge and the opportunity for us is to create a financially and commercially viable space where each of the stake holders can benefit.
"The teams can sustain greater longevity through on-going sponsorships and potentially a return on investment for being part of the series. And the event organisers, though the revenue they gain from being part of the WorldTour, actually consider their investment to have a greater return than from not being part of the Women's WorldTour."
The new series, which the UCI announced last fall, replaced the former 10-round World Cup and included 17 of the sport's top one-day and stage races.
US champion Megan Guarnier won the title, completing the series with 946 points with Canadian Leah Kirchman (Team Liv-Plantur) in second with 604 points and Briton Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead in third with 545 points.
Gaudry said that one of the reasons the new calendar was a success was because it offered a strong narrative throughout the whole season, as opposed to the former World Cup that had long stretches between races that caused it to stagnate.
She says the series has benefitted the organisers, teams and athletes, who now have a full season of professional racing to focus on with varying degrees of challenges throughout the types of races. She says that new sponsors have come into the sport directly because of Women's WorldTour.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) applauded the new series but said there were several improvements that needed to be made including the addition of more rules and tiered teams.
Although Gaudry gave the Women's WorldTour a top grade during its halfway point in June in an interview with Cyclingnews, upon its conclusion she reminded that the UCI designed the Women's WorldTour on a three- to five-year vision and that there is still work to be done. She says there are lessons to be learned from the first year of the Women's WorldTour but that the biggest lesson they learned so far was that there is a strong demand for women's professional bike racing.
The UCI implemented better promotional rules for women's cycling, with video highlights, social media and press packages but the new demands for the sport meant that the UCI wasn't prepared to showcase every event in the best possible way, to make them easily visible for everyone to watch. This is an area that Gaudry says will improve with the creation of a women's cycling hub, where fans can access information and events more easily.
The UCI will also work with the teams to create a better team criteria to help build a stronger environment that supports both team viability and athlete security.
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