A few months ago, the president of the UCI David Lappartient indicated that a U23 female world champion is likely to be crowned at the 2022 World Road Championships in Wollongong.
At first glance, this looks like a positive development – the U23 men have long had a standalone race where they can fight for a rainbow jersey, while the U23 women are still currently forced to compete in the elite race. The UCI’s plan, although apparently a step in the right direction, is still not ideal.
Rather than a female U23 standalone race, the U23 women look set to continue racing in the elite peloton in 2022, with rainbow stripes awarded to the first U23 female to cross the combined peloton line. It is a setup used in various other events around the world including the Australian National Road Championships.
In the days and weeks after Lappartient announced the news of the UCI’s plans for 2022, several riders in the women’s peloton spoke out about the plan. “If your [sic] go get an under 23 title, give us our own race, ”said Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx) on Twitter. “His [sic] a completely different dynamic. The goal of this sport is to cross the line first, not to end up somewhere in the peloton and to be rewarded for it. That’s not what I’m running for.
“Come back when you can offer us a suitable @UCI race. “
Today, the Cyclists Alliance (TCA) – an independent union for professional cyclists – revealed that it has asked its members about their thoughts on the combined elite / U23 women’s race that looks likely at the 2022 Worlds.
The results of this survey are clear.
- Of the 91 professional riders who responded to the survey, 97% want a separate race for the U23 peloton.
- 70% said if a separate road race was not possible in 2022, a separate ITT U23 Women’s race would be a good step in the right direction.
- 67% suggested that the rider quotas should be increased if the U23 and Elite groups are combined into one. The concern is that the combination of the two races could cost places for elite riders, with some teams instead devoting resources to winning the U23 race.
- There was also concern that having different races within the same race would create dangerous conditions.
“The Cyclists’ Alliance believes that a separate racing category is paramount to help develop riders as they transition out of the junior category and provide a pathway to create greater depth in the abilities and technical skills of front riders. their transition to the elite category “, the TCA wrote by summarizing the investigation.
“Following the investigation, The Cyclist ‘Alliance asks the UCI (1) to take into account this feedback gathered and presented by TCA and (2) to consult TCA, the riders, the teams, the national federations and the representative of the athlete road commission to develop the junior and U23 women’s categories and the addition of a U23 rainbow jersey at future world championships.