The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced the launch of its Women’s WorldTour campaign.
The Women’s WorldTour, which will be launched in 2016, will become the leading series of races for professional women road cyclists, and will replace the former UCI Women Road World Cup, which ran from 1998 to 2015.
The tour will comprise a combination of one-day and stage races and will run for 35 days, starting in March at Strade Bianche in Italy to September at La Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta in Spain. Under the new schedule, the number of competition days will increase by more than 60 per cent.
The 2016 calendar will comprise 17 events across Europe, the US and China, including for the first time multi-day events such as the Women’s Tour of Britain and the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile. The popular Amgen Tour of California and the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic will be staged in the US.
The top 20 UCI women’s teams will be invited to participate in each event, with some organisers opting to increase the size of the peloton by offering a greater number of teams the chance to race.
The UCI said that it has spent a full year consulting with event organisers, teams, rider representatives, media and sponsors before setting up the tour.
“The launch of the UCI Women’s WorldTour is a major step forward for women’s cycling and reflects detailed and very constructive discussions we have had with all our key stakeholders for more than a year now,” UCI president Brian Cookson said. “Growing the profile and professionalism of women’s cycling was one of my election pledges and so I am delighted that we have been able to reach agreement on the UCI Women’s WorldTour.”