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Tour de l’Avenir féminin offers new development opportunity to U23 women

2022 UEC European Championships Anadia POR Women Junior Individual Time Tria Anadia Sangalhos km 22 07072022 Vittoria Guazzini ITA FDJ NouvelleAquitaine Futuroscope Shirin Van Anrooij NED Trek Segafredo Marie Le Net FRA FDJ NouvelleAquitaine Futuroscope photo Tommaso PelagalliSprintCyclingAgency2022
Shirin van Anrooij wins the under-23 road race at the UEC European Championships (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

A new opportunity has opened up for under-23 women with the launch of a first-ever Tour de l’Avenir Féminin in 2023. 

The women's event will begin as a five-day stage race and will take place directly following the men's Tour de l’Avenir that is held annually in August.

"As of next year, the Tour de l'Avenir will be followed by a women's version, contested under the same format and open to up-and-coming cyclists under the age of 23, in perfect harmony with the general movement initiated this year with the Tour de France Femmes," Alpes Vélo announced during the Tour de France in July.

Tour de l’Avenir is one of the most prestigious races in the world for the under-23 men's category, and is often regarded as the under-23 Tour de France. 

Its first edition was in 1961 and the race has held 57 editions since with winners that include Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Bauke Mollema, Nairo Quintana, David Gaudu, Egan Bernal, and Tadej Pogačar.

Since 2007, it is raced by national teams and under-23 riders with the most recent winner from Norway, Tobias Halland Johannessen, in 2021. This year's 10-day edition is currently being held from August 18-28 and led by Germany's Michel Hessmann after the first seven stages.

The launch of a women's Tour de l'Avenir marks a significant step forward for women's cycling that often sees a gap and few development opportunities for riders that have completed the junior ranks, who are left with little option but to move directly into the elite peloton.

Currently, the structure of women's professional cycling offers a junior women's Nations Cup; Piccolo Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Gent-Wevelgem, Omloop van Borsele, Tour du Gevaudan Occitaine Femmes, Bizkaikoloreak and Watersely Ladies Challenge.

However, there is no under-23 women's category or a calendar of under-23 Nations Cup events that is the equivalent of the men's under-23 Nations Cup series, which includes Tour de l'Avenir.

The UCI announced that it would introduce an under-23 category at the UCI Road World Championships for the first time this year. However, it will be a combined event within the elite women's race held on September 24 in Wollongong.

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