Women’s WorldTour race days increase to 68 with Challenge by La Vuelta stage boost

WorldTour

The number of race days in the women’s WorldTour has grown substantially for the 2022 season, thanks to new stage races and extensions to others.

On Thursday, the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta announced that it will be extending its stage race from four days to five, adding to the list of new stage races in the women’s top division calendar.

This brings the total race days to 71, vs 37 in 2021 [Cycling Weekly initially reported 68 but we’d missed the Tour of Romandie, October 7-9]. 

The total number in 2019 was 54 days – though this included 10-days of the Giro Donne, which in 2021 was ranked out of the World Tour due to factors such as lack of TV coverage – yet the race still featured heavily in most team’s plans. For 2022, it is back in the list of most prestigious events. Covid cancellations hit the 2020 season badly, with 21 total days’ of racing. 

Some of the new events include the Tour de France Femmes, which replaces La Course, the Battle of the North, which takes the place of the Tour of Norway and the new stage race around the revamped RideLondon.

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In 2021 the women’s WorldTour peloton finally had a chance to race the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, albeit almost two years after the planned inaugural addition (and 125 years after the first men’s race). Despite this historic addition, there were still just 37 days of racing in the WorldTour. 

This all changes in 2022 with a staggering jump to 71 days of racing, with 10 stage races set to take place. Two of which take place in the UK with the Women’s Tour and the RideLondon Classique.

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) said in a recent press conference that she thinks women’s racing will change as the calendar becomes more expansive. 

“In my position, as a leader in women’s cycling over the last five, 10 years, whatever. I’ve kind of had to be on form all the time because we’re expected to be able to win on lots of different terrain, but I think the more professional the sport is getting the more specialist people are becoming.

“So I think you’ll see specific teams developing, like you do in the men’s cycling, that you have like a spring team [for the Classics] and then you know, a grand tour team or whatever.”

This is seen a lot in the men’s side of the sport with leaders aiming for specific goals over a very long season, and supporting riders primed to play a role in each discipline. 

Vuelta a España director, Javier Guillén, said: “In 2015, we presented a pioneering race in our country, with the hope of making it an international reference. It’s a fun and exciting race.

“You only have to see the extremely high level of participation in 2021 to understand its importance in the women’s WorldTour calendar. We must respond to the challenge demanded by the riders, and do so by making it the toughest route to date.”

The race that sits alongside the Spanish Grand Tour has grown over the years, starting as a one-day race around Madrid, the race has slowly gone up by a day or two over the last five years now reaching five stages in 2022.

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