The International Cycling Union (UCI) has expanded the Women’s WorldTour for its third season in 2018 with the addition of new events in Belgium, Spain and China.
The UCI said it considered a “significant number” of applications but has elected to select the Trois Jours de La Panne (Belgium), the Bira Emakumeen (Spain) and Tour of Guangxi (China).
In addition to the men’s event, organised since 1977, the women’s Trois Jours de La Panne is a new one-day race in the West Flanders region. Benefitting from the infrastructure in place for the men’s race but featured on its own day on March 22, the event will also be broadcast live on television and further strengthens the women’s Classics calendar.
The Emakumeen Euskal Bira is a four-stage race held in the Basque region of Spain. It has been held annually since 1988 and will take its place on the Women’s World Tour on May 19-22.
As part of the wide-reaching partnership signed at the end of 2016 with the Wanda Sports division of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda to develop cycling in China, the one-day Tour of Guangxi will be held on October 21 next year.
The three events add another six days of competition to an expanding series. From nine one-day races in 2015, the Women’s WorldTour will comprise 23 events and 52 days of racing in 2018.
UCI vice-president and president of the Women’s Commission, Tracey Gaudry, said: “All these developments show the scale of progress we are now seeing in women’s road cycling with three new events coming to complement the already established global narrative of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, greater broadcast exposure and social media cut-through.
“A huge amount has been achieved over the past two seasons in collaboration with race organisers, teams, riders, partners and media, and I’m confident that this journey of progress will continue in the season ahead.”
Brian Cookson, who is seeking re-election as UCI president, added: “Promoting women’s cycling has always been one of my priorities, and I’m particularly pleased to see the significant progress that has been made on this front over the last few years.
“The fact that so many more cities and countries want to host races, and that women riders are starting to get the recognition they deserve, is proof that our strategy is working. Of course, there is still more to be done and women’ cycling will certainly remain one of my core priorities in the years ahead.”