The UCI announced Thursday that it is evaluating the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women’s professional cycling, with input from stakeholders within the sport, and that it aims to resume competition during the 2020 season.
In its press release, the UCI stated that it is working with representatives of women riders, the CPA Women and Marianne Vos in her role of member of the UCI Athletes’ Commission and riders’ representative on the UCI Road Commission. It is also working with the race organisers association, the AIOCC, along with organisers of UCI Women’s WorldTour events and the newly launched women’s teams association UNIO.
"[We] have joined forces to enable women’s road cycling to come through the current crisis (coronavirus pandemic) in the best possible conditions with a view to the resumption of the 2020 season," read the press release.
The UCI confirmed that organisers of some 800 events across all disciplines and categories have requested the postponement or cancellation of their events. That figure represents a third of the UCI International Calendar.
The sport's governing body has suspended racing until July 1 - and August 1 for the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour - due to health precautions and government restrictions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but it acknowledged the impact such cancellations have had on women’s cycling, notably on women's cycling and its top-tier Women’s WorldTour.
Only one round of the 22-event Women's WorldTour has been contested this year. Fourteen events have been either cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. There are currently only eight top-tier races that remain with their original dates.
Cyclingnews spoke with CPA Women manager Alessandra Cappellotto on Monday, who confirmed the association had been included in meetings with the UCI to develop a revised calendar. She also confirmed on social media that the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile (Giro Rosa) has requested a new slot later in the season from September 5-13, during the second week of the rescheduled Tour de France.
Cappellotto told Cyclingnews that the CPA Women has requested that women's racing continue to the end of November, with a focus on the major races, and that organisers that host men's and women's events jointly reschedule both events at the same time. She also stressed that any potential date changes were dependent on government restrictions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In an announcement last Wednesday, the UCI stated that when making revisions to the 2020 International Road Calendar, priority would be placed on the three Grand Tours and five Monuments, along with the World Championships, European Championships and various National Championships.
A new Women's WorldTour calendar and a new version of the entire International Calendar (men's and women's races across all cycling disciplines) could be expected by May 15, which will almost certainly be pending any health restrictions set in place by each country’s government due to the novel coronavirus.
"In this context, which is difficult for all concerned parties, the UCI has been in contact over the last several weeks with all stakeholders of women’s and men’s professional road cycling, working with them to draw up revised calendars for the 2020 UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI WorldTour," read the press release.
"To do this, the UCI must take multiple elements into account, in particular the fact that certain organisers hold a women’s event and a men’s event conjointly, the diversity of national situations (different measures imposed by each government, in particular concerning major events), and the diverse technical means and resources available to different teams in order to resume racing."
The UCI has, in the meantime, provided a general framework for the women’s calendar after discussions with representatives of women riders, organisers and women’s teams, while also receiving input from health authorities of concerned countries.
- The meeting of a working group with the primary mission of proposing a restructured 2020 UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar, in line with the recent commitments of the UCI and concerned parties. This group is made up of representatives of the UCI, the AIOCC, UNIO, CPA Women and the UCI Athletes’ Commission.
- The revision of the participation rules and of the number of riders per team at the start of races on the women’s 2020 UCI International Road Calendar (including UCI Women’s WorldTour races).
- The implementation of the framework agreement made between the UCI and representatives of riders and teams. This agreement enables teams facing serious financial difficulties in the current context of the pandemic to take necessary measures for their survival while preserving the rights of their riders and staff. This measure had already been introduced for men’s professional cycling.
- The members of the working group have agreed to meet regularly to closely follow the world health situation and its impact on women’s professional road cycling, and to take appropriate measures in the interests of our sport. The objective of the working group, which will hold its first meeting this week, is to announce by 15 May at the latest, a new version of the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
The UCI has stated that the conclusions of the working group would be communicated to stakeholders as early as possible so that they can prepare as well as possible for a re-start to the calendar.
"The coronavirus pandemic has hit our sport hard, leading to a brutal halt to the season with dramatic sporting and financial consequences for organisers, teams and riders," President David Lappartient said in the press release.
"This comes in a period where several important steps initiated by the UCI in favour of women’s professional road cycling, such as the introduction of a minimum salary at the level of UCI Women’s WorldTeams, have just been realised.
"The UCI and, notably, the CPA Women, Marianne Vos in her role of member of the UCI Athletes’ Commission, organisers and UNIO, are working together to put women’s professional cycling back on track, in particular with the establishment of a revised 2020 UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
"With our partners, we will propose new dates for UCI Women’s WorldTour events as soon as possible, naturally in so far as the world health situation enables us to do so. Faced with this immense challenge, we must more than ever remain united, responsible and strong to get our sport back into action, all the while maintaining the priority of the health of athletes and all concerned parties."
Ronny Lauke is the president of UNIO, a new association formed by and representing women’s professional cycling teams registered with the UCI. It currently represents 22 of the 44 UCI women's teams, including five of the eight WorldTeams.
"As a newly-created association of women’s professional teams, we are delighted to work alongside the UCI and other cycling stakeholders to help women’s road cycling face the effects that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the 2020 season," Lauke said. "We are all united in pursuing the same objectives: the health of riders, the security of their teams, and the revision of the 2020 UCI International Calendar."