Despite fears the women’s editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne would be pulled from the 2020 calendar, both have been confirmed for next season as the UCI announced next year’s schedule.
Concerns were raised in May that the races would not take place in 2020 with race organisers ASO, who are responsible for some of the biggest races in the sport including the Tour de France, reportedly refusing to adhere to new UCI regulations surrounding televised coverage of WorldTour races.
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The new rules state that all WorldTour events must have at least 45 minutes of live television coverage, with a UCI representative saying that ASO were not willing to comply.
The president of the UCI’s Road Commission, Tom Van Damme, told DirectVelo: “One of the conditions for being in the Women’s WorldTour is the guarantee of live television coverage of at least 45 minutes, and ASO and the Walloon public RTBF are not able to provide this service next season.”
However, with the UCI recently releasing both the men’s and women’s WorldTour calendars for 2020, the two women’s editions of the Ardennes classics were present.
Cycling Weekly reached out to the UCI for further information on how an agreement was reached, with a spokesperson saying: “Events that are part of the 2020 Women’s WorldTour calendar mean organisers who have applied for registration have committed to fulfil all conditions required, including broadcasting criteria – with a minimum of 45 minutes’ live television coverage.”
With television coverage confirmed for both races, Cycling Weekly asked ASO to clear up what happened, with the organisation dismissing previous reports about their refusal to provide television coverage.
“Contrary to what has been written a few months ago, ASO as always had the intention to respect the technical specifications requested by the UCI for the women’s World Tour races,” a spokesperson said, “and so there will be a television live coverage, as the other races of the women’s WorldTour.”
These UCI rule changes come after there was no live television coverage of the women’s Flèche Wallonne this year, which drew criticism from world champion Anna van der Breggen after her fifth consecutive win at the Ardennes classic.
“It’s time. It’s one of our biggest races together with Liège. We are fighting all day, we had echelons on the road, so it’s a pity you only saw the last climb because that is the end and the fight is before that,” Van der Breggen said.
“I think we deserve to have live coverage and that people can follow us because many people would like to.”
The biggest addition to the women’s calendar f0r 2020 is the introduction of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race that will run alongside the men’s event, taking place a day before on February 1.
The Prudential RideLondon Classique, however, will be dropped from the WorldTour calendar because race organisers have changed the date, which will see the British race clash with the Ladies Tour of Norway.
Organisers have said they are “extremely disappointed” with the decision but the UCI have said they hope the race will return to their WorldTour calendar in future years, praising it’s popularity and quality of organisation.