Female pros want a separate Under 23s World Championships, not a race within a race, The Cyclists' Alliance says

Limited support for UCI plan to introduce an U23 jersey, awarded from the elite road race

Elisa Balsamo, Marianne Vos and Kasia Niewiadoma on the podium for the elite Road World Championships 2021 in Leuven, Belgium
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Cyclists' Alliance has concluded that the majority of the women's peloton considers plans to award an under 23 jersey, following the results of the elite women's race, at the 2022 Road World Championships insufficient. 

The UCI indicated its intentions in September this year, but a survey run by The Cyclists' Alliance found that 97% of the riders who took part want a separate U23 race. Comparatively, the UCI's new approach would see the jersey being given to the first U23 rider to finish in the elite races at the World Championships, beginning at the 2022 events in Wollongong, Australia.

The study also shared that 70% of participants agreed that if the road race was not possible, an U23 time trial would be a step in the right direction to level up the sport as women's cycling continues to grow.

The survey was completed by 96 professional female riders, in November 2021; 33% were members of a WorldTeam and 67% were members of a Continental Team. Of the respondents, 48% were in the Elite Category, 46% were in the U23 ranks, and 6% were juniors. 

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Former professional and co-founder of The Cyclists' Alliance (TCA), Gracie Elvin said: "There have been some significant positive changes in women's cycling in recent years, particularly with the new World Tour system in place.

"TCA is proud of playing a big part in some of these changes and supporting a separate U23 women's category at World Championship level, as well as the introduction of U23 races within the season, is the next logical step in continuing the progress in elite women's cycling and creating an environment where young women can develop and thrive."

The survey also showed that most riders - 67% - felt that there would need to be an additional quota for U23 riders within each national team if the categories were to be mixed into one race. The concern was that if the two races were run within one event, elite leaders could lose supporting riders, and the format could result in dangerous racing conditions with assorted tactics dictating two races within one peloton.

TCA believes that a stand-alone U23 race category for the World Championships is "paramount" to helping develop riders, as well as guiding them as they transition from the junior level into the elite category.

In a press release, the group concluded: "Overall, the data collected from this survey is very clear and The Cyclists’ Alliance believes a separate race category is paramount to help develop riders as they transition out of the junior category and provide a pathway for creating greater depth in riders ability and technical skills before they transition to the Elite category."

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