The organisers of the women’s Route de France Féminine stage race – arguably the women’s Tour de France - have confirmed the cancellation of this year event, blaming the UCI for failing to include the stage race in the 2017 women’s WorldTour calendar.
La Route de France Féminine claims to be the continuation of the Tour de France Féminin and is France’s most prestigious stage race for women. However, the race failed to secure a place in the 2017 WorldTour calendar after the organisers were late in submitting their request. As a consequence the 2017 Tour de France Féminin (August 5-13) clashes with the UEC road championships and then the Crescent Vårgårda WorldTour races in Sweden on August 11 and 13.
In a Facebook post titled: ‘Tout simplement scandaleux, Merci l’UCI,’ race organisers Hervé and Brigitte Gerardin blamed the UCI for the cancellation of their race, while promising to organise the race in 2018 if it secures a better slot in the calendar.
“After more than 10 years of organisations at the highest international level, the 2017 Route de France is challenged by an inconsistency at the level of the international women's calendar,” the post reads.
“Despite the strong will of the organising committee to continue and a desire to organise the 2017 edition of the race, we have decided to challenge and to show the Union Cycliste Internationale our disagreement on the procedure of the implementation of the calendar team.
“In 2017, we wished to integrate the race in the new schedule of the WorldTour, access we have unfortunately been refused by the UCI for the following reason: our file sent mid-August, arrived too late to the UCI!?!
“Yes, we have agreed not to be in the WorldTour calendar but we denounce the inconsistency that has led to the cancellation of the Route de France. The 2017 calendar includes several events on the same dates as that the Route de France, which is stuck between the European Championships and two WorldTour races that are usually located after the Route de France. It is, therefore, impossible to envisage the organisation of our race because this situation deprives us of the best French and international teams.”
The organisers promised they would fight to put on the Route de France Feminine, but only on condition they obtained an ‘honourable’ place in the race calendar. They called on French and international women’s cycling to support them.
There was no initial reaction from the UCI to the organiser's decision and criticism.