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Highlights of the UCI Women’s World Tour 2021

By Megan Flottorp

Late last month, the UCI revealed its 2021 calendar for the Women’s World Tour. Set to unfold over 25 events in 10 countries, enthusiasts of women’s cycling have been happy to note that the 2021 race year will include two new Spanish stage races: Itzulia Women and Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. In addition to a few other welcome developments, including a women’s only instalment of the Prudential RideLondon Classique and the second iteration of a women’s Paris-Roubaix, there were also several notable cancellations – likely due to the novel coronavirus concerns. Nevertheless, there is plenty to get excited about, so let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights to be found on the next year’s UCI Women’s World Tour calendar.

The season kicks off as usual

Those familiar with the traditional calendar will be happy to see that UCI has decided to maintain a level of consistency. The women’s action will begin in Australia with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 30 before the peloton moves to Europe for the always-heated Strade Bianche on March 6. Sticking to a customary sequence, Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands is up next on March 12 and then things travel to Italy for Trofeo Alfredo Binda on March 21. The top-tier spring Classics will officially begin at the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne on March 25, followed by Gent-Wevelgem on March 28 and Tour of Flanders on April 4.

Women Peloton
The peloton races along side the Great Ocean Road near Barwon Heads during the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race Women’s Elite Race. © AFP photo / Mark Gunter

Paris-Roubaix round two

The second annual women’s Paris-Roubaix will be hosted on April 11 and is likely to be one of the year’s most exciting races. A.S.O. surprised the cycling world late this spring by adding the first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix to the revised late-season Women’s WorldTour — and the anticipation going into this inaugural event is steadily rising. One of the sport’s oldest, toughest, and most prestigious races, the lengthy sections of cobblestone have earned it the nickname of “the Hell of the North.” In its 124-year history, 2020 marks the first time that the women have had the chance to tackle this feat, so it is encouraging to see that 2021 will solidify the women’s representation at this iconic event.

Two Spanish stage races

The Itzulia Women (formerly Donostia San Sebastian), which has historically been a one-day event, will join the UCI Women’s WorldTour as a three-day stage race from May 14 to 16. Just a few days later, a new arrival to the calendar — the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas — will also be raced over three stages, from May 20 to 23. These two events will make up a mid-season block of Spanish focus and promise to provide new opportunities for women looking to prove they have the skill and stamina to perform over a series of consecutive stages.

Prudential RideLondon
Riders on the start line at the Prudential RideLondon Classique in 2019 © Profimedia

A RideLondon Classique for the women

Another event to look forward to in May of next year, The RideLondon Classique remains on the Women’s WorldTour calendar, despite the absence of the men’s RideLondon event. Taking place on the last Sunday on the month, this challenging course offers an additional chance for top riders to make their mark on the 2021 season.

Juggling Tour de France to accommodate the Olympics

Organisers also had some rearranging to do in order to accommodate both the Tour de France and the Olympics. Although, of course, the women don’t compete throughout most of the Tour de France, the women’s race, La Course, always packs a lot of excitement. Thankfully, there will be no overlap with the Olympics as La Course is scheduled to be held on July 18, over a week before the Olympic road races will take place on July 24, 25, and 28.

Annemiek Van Vleuten wins the sprint at the finish of the ‘La Course by Le Tour de France’ on 17 July 2018. © Profimedia

Notable absences

There are a few names missing from the 2021 UCI Women’s World Tour calendar, though, including American’s darling — the Amgen Tour of California. Unfortunately, despite the race’s 14-year run, organizers declared its indefinite “hiatus” late last year due to financial issues. The UCI has also confirmed the cancellations of several races this fall due to coronavirus concerns, including the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal in Canada, the EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg in Germany, and the Boels Ladies Tour in the Netherlands.

In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying the remainder of the women’s 2020 calendar as it unfolds over the next couple of months and hoping that 2021 will bring significantly fewer obstacles than those we’ve been dealing with this year. Here is a full outline of the coming season’s events:

2021 UCI Women’s World Tour Calendar

30 January: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race – Elite Women’s Race (Australia)
6 March: Strade Bianche (Italy)
14 March: Ronde van Drenthe (Pays-Bas)
21 March: Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio (Italy)
25 March: AG Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne (Belgium)
28 March: Gent – Wevelgem in Flanders Fields (Belgium)
4 April: Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres (Belgium)
11 April: Paris-Roubaix Femmes (France)
18 April: Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition (the Netherlands)
21 April: La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (Belgium)
25 April: Liège – Bastogne – Liège Femmes (Belgium)
6 – 8 May: Tour of Chongming Island (China)
14 – 16 May: Itzulia Women (Spain)
20 – 23 May: Vuelta a Burgos Feminas (Spain)
30 May: RideLondon Classique (Great Britain)
7 – 12 June: Women’s Tour (Great Britain)
2 – 11 July: Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile (Italy)
18 July: La Course by Le Tour de France (France)
7 August: Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden TTT (Sweden)
8 August: Postnord UCI WWT Vårgårda West Sweden RR (Sweden)
12 – 15 August: Ladies Tour of Norway (Norway)
21 August: GP de Plouay – Lorient-Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit (France)
24 – 29 August: Boels Ladies Tour (the Netherlands)
3 – 5 September: Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta (Spain)
19 October: Tour of Guangxi – UCI Women’s WorldTour (China)