There’s still a ways to go, but professional women’s racing continues to grow. There are still many unresolved issues involving pay equity, increased broadcasting, prize money, and more, but there have been some positive developments these past few years.
In 2022, the women’s calendar is better than ever. Here’s five races that cycling fans should be excited about.
1. Tour de France Femmes
In October, it was finally made official. A women’s Tour de France will return to the calendar. Although there was a Tour de France Feminine more than 30 years ago, an actual Tour de France for women has floundered, with smaller iterations stopping and starting since. Christophe Prudhomme is confident that this Tour de France Femmes will last. “The goal is to organize a race that will stay, that will still exist in 100 years,” he said.
— Le Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (@LeTourFemmes) February 21, 2022
The 2022 version will be 1,029 km throughout eight stages. It has two mountain stages, four stages for the sprinters, and two that would suit rouleurs. Just like the men’s race, women will compete for four iconic jerseys: the yellow for GC leader, the green for best sprinter, polka-dots for best climber and white jersey for best young rider. The race will consist of seven stages, and gets underway July 24.
2. Paris Roubaix in April
British ace Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) made history in October, soloing away just before the very first cobbled section of the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes to take a famous victory. She was the first Brit to ever win Paris-Roubaix. Deignan added the historic win to her triumphs in the 2016 Tour of Flanders and 2020 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Canada’s Alison Jackson, resplendent in red bibs and the national champion’s jersey, came 24th.
We can't wait for Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift ?♀️⚡️ We are thrilled to be presenting partner of one of the most exciting and iconic one-day road races on the cycling calendar. This is going to be a great year for women’s cycling! pic.twitter.com/s6YUL3q7kw
— Zwift (@GoZwift) March 7, 2022
Both the men’s and women’s race was originally supposed to take place in April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed to October. Although many quite liked the race taking place in the muddy Autumn weather, many are stoked to see the women race the iconic race on its “proper” day.
3. Tour of Flanders
Just like Roubaix, “De Ronde” is one of the most famous races in the world, also held in April. The 158 km race will start in Oudenaarde and contain several cobbled sections, as well 13 super-steep climbs.
The women will be racing the famous Koppenberg for the first time, on the way back to Oudenaarde. Another positive development for the race is that the women’s race will have equal prize money as the men.
For the first time ever, we're having a Tour of Flanders youth day for women U17 and U19! ? We’re happy to take another step in women’s cycling. Save 22 May in your calendar! ? #RVV pic.twitter.com/RMIKDkGGoW
— Ronde Van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) February 23, 2022
Who will take the tough one-day? Marianne Vos? Annemiek van Vleuten? Or could the Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig or Polish rider Kasia Niewiadoma finally take the big victory they deserve.
4. Giro Rosa
The 33rd edition of the Giro Rosa will get underway on July 1 and and the race will finish ten days later. The race is one of the most important races for women for years, given it’s longevity. Anna van der Breggen and Fabiana Luberini are tied for the most wins, with four a piece.
Ready to kick off the Giro d’Italia Donne ??? pic.twitter.com/DWgRQ9mhAu
— Team Jumbo-Visma Women (@JumboVismaWomen) July 1, 2021
The 2021 Giro d’Italia Donne (or usually known as the Giro Rosa) was dominated by SD Worx, with van der Breggen and her teammates Ashleigh Moolman and Demi Vollering taking the podium spots. The UCI demoted the race in 2021 from the UCI Women’s World Tour because race organizers did not provide the minimum of 45 minutes of live television coverage required for all top-tier Women’s WorldTour races. But now, with the race under new management, organizers will fulfil the UCI’s requirements and thus the race will return the UCI Women’s World Tour.
5. U-23 women’s worlds
The UCI announced that u-23 women will finally be afforded medals, rainbow jerseys and world champion status at the road cycling world champs, starting this September in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. However, the u-23 women will still be in the elite women’s road race and time trial, with separate races by 2025 in Kigali, Rwanda.
In a press release, the UCI said, “As a transitional measure for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 UCI Road World Championships, for technical and logistical reasons and due to commitments already made, the women’s races will include both the Elite Women and Under 23 Women categories, and two titles will be awarded at the end of the events. From the 2025 edition, which will be held in Kigali (Rwanda), a separate event will be organized for athletes in the Women Under 23 category.”
— UCI_media (@UCI_media) February 12, 2022
The move was controversial, and not everyone was thrilled. Since the women will be racing with elites, many were concerned that the u-23 women would be at the mercy of the tactics of their older teammates. At the very least, there will be a rainbow jersey for the best u-23 rider in the world and 2025 can’t come soon enough.