Rome the target for 2023 Giro Donne 'grande partenza'

Organisers confirm they are working with the UCI to ensure the race does not clash with the men’s Tour de France in 2023

Riders race through the stunning Italian countryside during stage eight of the 2022 Giro Donne
Riders race through the stunning Italian countryside during stage eight of the 2022 Giro Donne
(Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty)

Organisers of the Giro Donne have told Cycling Weekly they are beginning negotiations to start the 2023 race in the Rome.

The race has not visited the capital since Marianne Vos won an individual time trial in the city in 2012, and having the Grande Partenza in the Eternal City would be a significant step forward for the race’s prestige.

The move is set to be formally announced at a press conference to close the race in Padova on Sunday afternoon, but the General Director of the race, Roberto Ruini confirmed the move in an interview with Cycling Weekly.

“The aim is to start in 2023 from Rome,” Ruini explained. “We know it is very, vey complicated  and difficult but considering the importance of Rome and the importance of the race it is a very good idea.”

This year is Ruini’s second leading the race since PMG and Starlight Sport took it over from the former director Giuseppe Rivolta after the 2020 event. 

During the final years of Rivolta’s reign leading what remains the longest race on the women’s calendar, the event received increasing criticism from riders and press alike, poor publicity, stage locations and rider conditions all issues. Though he managed to host the event in the 2020 pandemic season, when it was the only WorldTour stage race, the Giro was relegated from the WorldTour, the UCI citing a lack of TV coverage among their reasons. 

Under Ruini’s management the 2021 event was run as part of the second level ProSeries, interestingly with UCI President David Lappartient’s brother, Jérôme, as chief commissaire. It was a qualified success, TV coverage largely met WorldTour criteria and the 2022 event is back in the top series. 

“Back two years ago when this race was at the lowest point of its difficulties PMG decided to take care of it and put all its efforts into it,” explained Ruini. Rivolta remains involved as race sporting  technical director, the man with his head out of the lead car each day. 

Under PMG’s management the race is now far more visible, this year more so than 2021. There is better social media, constant press releases, and a more comprehensive and accurate road book. But the main improvement to visibility is the TV coverage, which is not only longer, but far better produced than 2021.

However, the running concurrently with the Tour de France the Italian race is hidden behind a yellow avalanche of articles and coverage from there. 

“I have a lot of respect for ASO, they are an extraordinarily professional organisation, but this is something that must be solved,” continued Ruini. “So we with the UCI and the Federation are taking care of it for the next years to come. Basically the race will be moved from the Tour de France window.

“We are struggling for 2023, but President Lappartient said in an interview a few days ago that it is something that needs to be solved. We think the calendar that came out is not fixed, it’s not set in stone, and it’s something that we need to sort in the next few weeks.”

Riders agree the race needs to move to increase its visibility. “The race is being a bit overshadowed with the men's Tour de France, so maybe having having a different dates could be an advantage and an offer the race  a bit more exposure,” DSM’s Leah Kirchmann told us. “But it’s a big challenge, the calendar is really full and it’s a challenge to schedule it perfectly.”

While Ruini insists the race will avoid the Tour de France in 2023, finding an alternate date for the Giro Donne will prove problematic as it influences other races whose dates are already set. May is unlikely as it would coincide with the men’s race and there are also three Spanish stage races that month.

The Women’s Tour in the UK is currently set to take place between June 6-10 with the three day Ride London possibly returning to the week before should it guarantee adequate TV coverage.

Put the 10 day Giro after the Women’s Tour and there are six stage races consisting of 34 days on seven consecutive weekends. Teams have neither the infrastructure or riders to take part. And where do national championships go?

"We've had no discussion with them [Giro Donne or the UCI] whatsoever. however, our dates have been confirmed with the UCI," Mick Bennett, race director at the Women's Tour told Cycling Weekly.

“Yes of course we need to confirm this with the other organisers, we know there are other races that would be interfered with and the calendar is super busy, but it’s something we are investigating carefully.”

Under the old management the Giro Rosa, as it was then called, was falling behind, but with PMG and Starlight taking over it has upped its game and profile. No more four woman hotel rooms, no more industrial estate starts and finishes. There’s a mixed zone for journalists to interview riders, something unheard of before 2021.

TV viewing figures will be published in full late on Sunday, but at least two stages have had more than 500,000 live viewers on Italian national TV alone.

Stage eight began in the nationally significant Rovereto Museum of Modern Art, and Sunday’s final day concludes in Prato della Valle, Italy’s largest piazza and one of Europe’s largest squares.

“Our ambition is to get other people to understand how important it is to get the women’s cycling along with the beautiful and astonishing locations together so people see the improvement around this race.”

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.