Pros may have been lacking motivation this year after the racing season was suspended by the UCI, but a surprise addition to the Women’s WorldTour may just offer all the anticipation they need.
On Tuesday (May 5) Cycling’s international governing body released a new proposed calendar for the 2020 season, including a first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix event, to be held on the same day as the men’s race in October.
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The inclusion of a women’s Cobbled Monument has been the most striking feature in the new calendar and was met with elation from pro riders, including Lizzie Deignan and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Former world champion Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) said: “Obviously this is an amazing surprise, I’m really delighted! I think Paris-Roubaix is an iconic race, one of the races that attracts most fans in cycling and if we can attract those same fans to women’s cycling, I think it’s a really positive thing.
“The race will happen at the end of an intensive racing period and in the aftermath of such a challenging year with the coronavirus pandemic but to have a Paris-Roubaix to look forward to makes the motivation easy. It’s such an exciting prospect to be able to race there and I think we have a strong team to challenge for the win there.”
Due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis, the UCI has been forced to completely redesign the racing calendar for 2020, with the Spring Monuments now being held in the Autumn.
Paris-Roubaix will be held on October 5, in the middle of an intense three-month long racing block featuring all the major women’s races, including La Course and the Giro Rosa.
Deignan’s team-mate Lucinda Brand said: “I see most of the big spring classic races, which are all hard races, are there and of course the big surprise is Paris-Roubaix which is really cool. Even in this difficult year we’re in they want to let us race this special race that the women pro-peloton was wishing to race for a really long time. This is a step forward and one I didn’t expect to happen already this year. I’m really excited about it.”
Trek-Segafredo sports director Ina Teutenberg called the decision to hold a women’s Roubaix a “step forward” for the sport.
Reigning world champion Annemiek van Vleuten has also shared her thoughts on the historic announcement.
She said: “The most surprising news is the Paris-Roubaix for women. I always said I will only quit when they will first organise a Paris-Roubaix for women and finally they will have… but I’m not going to quit yet!”
Van Vleuten’s Mitchelton-Scott team-mate Amanda Spratt said: “I am shaking and aching just looking at Paris-Roubaix on the calendar, but I think it’s awesome.
“It’s the one race the women’s peloton has really been asking for. It’s such an iconic race and I think there’s no reason why we can’t go there and put on a really good show. It’s a huge step forward and really pleasing that the ASO have taken on that feedback.”