2022 World Championships will see the first female U23 world champion crowned

There will be rainbow bands on offer in the road race and the time trial. Standalone race will not happen until 2025, however

World Championships
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Women will race for the first under-23 world title at this year's World Championships, the UCI has confirmed, but will have to wait until 2025 for a separate race.

The management committee of cycling's governing body met last weekend, and has confirmed that U23 women will have a chance to race for the rainbow bands at this year's World Championships in both the road race and the time trial. This year's worlds will take place in Wollongong, Australia, in September.

In a press release on Saturday, the UCI's president, David Lappartient, said that he was "delighted" by this "step towards parity" in cycling.

“With the award of a Women Under 23 UCI World Champion title in the road race and individual time trial at the next UCI Road World Championships, I am delighted that we have taken another step towards parity between men and women in our sport," the Frenchman said.

"This innovation, like the progress made in protecting the integrity of cycling and its players, makes our sport more inclusive, and we will continue our work in this respect in the coming years."

A survey of female riders has previously shown that there is overwhelming support for a separate race for the U23 category, but this will not happen until 2025, the UCI said. 

The poll from The Cyclists' Alliance said that 97% of the riders who took part want a separate U23 race, but they will have to wait.

The press release explained that this was because of "technical and logistical reasons and due to commitments already made".

It read: "The two titles will be awarded at medal ceremonies during which the UCI World Champions will be presented with a rainbow jersey and the three riders on the podium with medals corresponding to their rank. 

"As a transitional measure for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 UCI Road World Championships, for technical and logistical reasons and due to commitments already made, the women's races will include both the Women Elite and Women Under 23 categories, and two titles will be awarded at the end of the events."

"From the 2025 edition, which will be held in Kigali (Rwanda)," it continued, "a separate event will be organised for athletes in the Women Under 23 category."

Had this system been in place in Leuven, Belgium, last year, GB's Anna Henderson and Pfeiffer Georgi would have finished first and second in the U23 road race, with Juliette Labous of France winning the time trial.

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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over my professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.