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Highlights from the Women’s WorldTour Calendar 2023

By Megan Flottorp

Where does the time go? It feels like only yesterday we were recapping the success of 2022’s outstanding season, and it is already time to get ready for the new slate of races that is just around the corner. Not that we are complaining, of course. Suffice it to say that the UCI Women’s World Tour 2023 calendar looks mighty exciting and is sure to bring us plenty of thrills as the world’s top riders battle it out on some very challenging courses.

With 30 events in total, the action will get underway next week with the Tour Down Under. This race was promoted to the top tier for 2023 and now marks one of four new events. The others include the newly-launched UAE Tour and the promotion of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Tour de Suisse to the top-tier series. We are going to take a closer look at what we can expect from these guys below.

A little bit of historical context

Before diving into what lies ahead, though, let’s take a moment to appreciate how far the Women’s WorldTour series has come in under a decade. It was only in 2016 that it replaced the former one-day World Cup and has now grown to include 30 races. These range from one-day events to multi-day stage races, all coming together to offer the women’s peloton and cycling fans ten months of professional bike racing. That is a heck of a jump if you ask us.

So, let’s see what kind of excitement awaits us in the weeks and months ahead!

New additions to the top tier

We start the year off with a slate of new events that promise to set a fierce and energetic tone for the 2023 season.

Santos Women’s Tour Down Under – January 15-17, Australia

The Women’s Tour Down Under is back! After being cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic, it is now the season opener and has been bumped to the top tier of races for the first time since 2016. The three-day race is held in and around Adelaide, and whoever takes top honour will be the first in 2023 to sport the leader’s jersey of the Women’s World Tour.

UAE Tour Women – February 9-12, United Arab Emirates

A brand new race launched in 2023, the women’s peloton will head to the Middle East for a four-day race. In the first event of the World Female Tour in the region, there will be 20 teams competing for the inaugural title. Hosting the Women’s World Tour confirms that the passion for cycling in the country is growing, and we look forward to seeing how this one unfolds.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – February 25, Belgium

The long-running Omloop het Nieuwsblad will join the WorldTour for its 18th edition as part of ‘opening weekend’. The women and men will race on Saturday, 25th Feb, revealing who will be this year’s hottest contenders as we continue into the Spring cobbled classics.

Strade Bianche will (as always) not be one to miss

Moving to early March, all eyes will be on the beloved Strade Bianche. The name of this relatively young race (this will be the 17th edition) means ‘white roads’ in Italian and refers to the unpaved white gravel sections that make it so unique. A noted favourite among riders, more and more fans are discovering the magic of this singular race. Winding through stunning Tuscan scenery, challenging gravel roads, and just enough short sharp climbs to keep everyone guessing, you add in an iconic finish in Siena, and it is easy to understand why. Lotte Kopecky won the 2022 edition, but plenty of top-notch riders will be eager to claim that title as their own come March.

The Spring Classics go full steam ahead

As the end of March approaches, we prepare for a bumpy ride as it is time for the Spring Classics (and their infamous cobblestone battles) to get underway. The Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix will both be ones you don’t want to miss. It is only the 3rd edition of the Paris–Roubaix Femmes, and it is set to be a fiery race. Elisa Longo Borghini is the current title holder, after soloing to triumph ahead of Lotte Kopecky and Lucinda Brand last year. Lizzie Deignan won the first edition with an epic solo feat after attacking on the first of the seventeen cobbled sectors. Needless to say, the winner of this one will walk away with some significant bragging rights.

There was plenty to admire in the peloton beyond those who finished on the podium at the 2022 Paris–Roubaix Femmes. © Profimedia

Vuelta a España Femenina moves to May

For 2023 the Vuelta a España has rebranded its women’s race, taking a different approach to hosting duel events than the Tour de France. The Vuelta a España Femenina has been bumped from September to May and will do off as a standalone event, rather than following the men’s competition.

It remains to be seen what this format will achieve regarding fan engagement and viewership. The placement on the calendar also means that the three Grand Tours for the women’s peloton are now packed together in relatively quick succession in 2023. Without a doubt, the racing will still be exciting, but it might also mean that we won’t be able to watch the peloton’s top names battle it out at all three Grand Tours.

The two main Grand Tours for the Women’s World Tour calendar 2023

And, of course, the other two Grand Tours are also worthy highlights on the UCI Women’s World Tour calendar. June brings us the battle for the Giro d’Italia Donne, which runs from June 30 to July 9. This will be the 34th edition of the Giro Donne, which was elevated back to top-tier status last year. Fabiana Luberini and Anna van der Breggen are record holders of the title with four wins each.

From there, we jump to July when the Tour de France Femmes is up for what will surely be a massively exciting round two. This year will feature an even more challenging 956-km route, with the stand-out stages coming on the final weekend. The penultimate day sees a summit finish on the legendary Col du Tourmalet, followed by a time trial in and around Pau for the closing stage.

The World Championships on an epic scale before the season winds down

It is hard to fathom all that will have transpired come the end of summer but, no doubt, there will still be tons of enthusiasm left for the UCI Cycling World Championships, held in Glasgow and across Scotland from 3 to 13 August. Notably, in a first for a UCI World Championships, the Women Elite road race will bring the curtain down on the competitions on Sunday, 13 August. Not bad!

This is also the first time all 13 UCI World Championships will be combined into one mega-event, so this will be one of the grandest cycling events the world has ever seen. The anticipated global TV audience will place the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in the world’s top-10 most watched sporting events.

Following that deluge of action, a combination of one-day and stage races to close out the season at the double-header Postnord Vargarda WestSweden and Tour of Scandinavia in August, GP de Plouay, Simac Ladies Tour and Tour de Romandie in September, and the return of Tour of Chongming Island and Tour of Guangxi in October.

As we said at the top, there is a lot to get excited about here. Stay tuned for our coverage of the Women’s Tour Down Under that gets started on Saturday!