The UCI has defended its decision to remove the Giro Rosa from the 2021 Women’s WorldTour calendar. The world governing body has blamed years of organisational shortcomings for the decision.
The Giro Rosa was not among the races listed as part of the top tier of women’s races when it was released last week, the race has instead been relegated to the second level ProSeries.
The race’s omission will leave a huge hole in the Women’s WorldTour with the one day La Course the only event in the whole of July. However, though it is the longest, most prestigious, and most arduous race on the calendar, it has suffered some organisational issues, not least a lack of live television coverage, something required by the UCI’s regulations.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale has withdrawn the Giro Rosa from the UCI Women’s WorldTour 2021 due to various shortcomings on the part of the organiser with regard to the specifications (particularly in terms of television coverage), despite repeated requests from us over the past few years,” read a statement.
“We hope that the Giro Rosa, a historic race on the professional women’s road cycling calendar that is highly appreciated by the riders, will do its utmost to reach the level required by the UCI Women’s WorldTour.”
It wasn’t just the lack of live coverage that attracted criticism of this year’s event, the 31st edition of what is termed the only Grand Tour for women.
Poor roads blighted the event throughout its nine days and likely caused the incident in which Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) crashed out of the overall lead while aiming for a third consecutive victory.
A number of stages had their routes changed, at least one without proper communication, leading to teams guessing where the finish line was. Neutral sections were removed or shortened without notice, and teams were forced to sweep away rubbish before they could prepare for one stage near Naples.
Historically the routes published in the roadbook have not resembled those actually ridden, including one time trial stage in 2017 which appeared flat but in fact included the fearsome 30 per cent climb into Sant’elpidio a Mare.
Though it remains a favourite among many riders, news of a women’s Tour de France to be held in 2022 had already put the race’s future in doubt, with the two events likely to take place in very close succession to each other.
“I know the Giro is slowly stepping up each year, it’s probably not as quick as we want and fingers crossed next year we do actually get the live coverage as well,” said Mitchelton-Scott’s Amanda Spratt during this year’s race, before the race’s relegation.
“I hope that both races can survive, the Giro has been around for so long and has so much history attached to it so I’d love to see a Giro and women’s Tour de France.”
With no long stage race to replace the Giro at the top tier next year expect many of the biggest names to still be there, however, after that there is a chance that if organisers fail to step up the historic event could disappear into obscurity.