For the first time, the Tour de Suisse will hold a women's race this year, with two stages on the opening weekend of the men's race in early June.
The race organisers have yet to secure full funding for the event but are confident they can raise money from current sponsors, as well as unlocking unspent funds from the 2020 World Championships in Aigle-Martigny, which were called off and moved to Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tour de Suisse is one of the oldest and most prestigious week-long races in men's cycling, and the Swiss Cycling federation acknowledged that a women's race should have been launched before now. On Tuesday, together with Tour de Suisse organiser Cycling Unlimited, Swiss Cycling announced the new Tour de Suisse Women, which will feature 17 teams, at least four of which will be WorldTour.
Both stages will start and finish in Frauenfeld, where the men's race kicks off with a time trial on Sunday, June 6.
The opening stage on Saturday will be 114km, covering three laps of an undulating 38km circuit, while the 98km final stage will cover 10 laps of a shorter and flatter city-based circuit loosely based on the men's time trial course.
In the future, the organisers want to expand the race to 'four to six stages' as part of the UCI Women's WorldTour.
"We're taking a risk, but the Tour de Suisse Women is worth it," said Thomas Peter, director of Swiss Cycling.
"We're investing a lot of time and energy in the development of women's cycling. We launched the #fastandfemaleSUI campaign in autumn 2019 and we quickly saw our efforts were favourably received."
The risk, at this stage, concerns the financing of the event, which Swiss Cycling referred to as "a challenge" in its own press release.
The 300,000 Swiss Francs needed to put on the race have not yet been secured, but the organisers are nevertheless pressing ahead in hope.
Existing sponsors are said to be willing to support a women's race, but the key is the unspent money ring-fenced for the 2020 Worlds that remains in the hands of the Swiss government.
"We have received positive signals in response to our proposals to use it in favour of the promotion of women's cycling and youth cycling," said Peter.
Swiss Cycling has also launched a crowdfunding campaign, where people can make direct donations or join a Strava target of 500,000 kilometres in 50 days to show a collective appetite for women's cycling.
"Thousands of supporters very quickly responded to our appeal. The 500,000 kilometres campaign has equally been a great success since its launch, and we're sensing genuine momentum," said Peter.
"We can't wait any longer, because the teams must be informed and hotels booked, which all takes money. As a federation, we are ready to take that risk. The Tour de Suisse Women must now become a reality."
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.