As the revamped Women’s World Tour calendar was unveiled, the cycling federation’s President David Lappartient offered his assurances that the UCI are doing all they can to ensure bike racing goes ahead this season.
Lappartient was adamant he did not want to see races behind closed doors as fans are a key ingredient in the success of the sport, but revealed cycling may have to implement restrictions, adding if we do not see racing until 2021 it could be “a disaster”.
He stated: “For me, races behind closed doors are not a good thing and I don’t believe we can go this way. Imagine the Tour of Flanders without fans?
“We want to see the fans at races but we may have to regulate the number of people, for example. We had two options – to say in March, the season is closed, let’s see in 2021 and meet at the Tour Down Under in January. We believe though that could be a disaster for our sport, for the teams, for the riders, for all employees and the race organisers. So we wanted to say all we can say. Of course, we are fully aware the situation is moving worldwide, but nobody knows what the situation will be in two or three months.
“Maybe we could have the situation where there is no cycling. Maybe not. We believe it is our mission to prepare a second part of the season if we are able to have it, and we really hope to be back and to see some wonderful races. If not, we are back in 2021. But where it seems possible to have some races from the beginning of August, that is important and that will help to safeguard the teams, the riders, employment and so on. It’s really important for us.”
Lappartient also announced a specific and dedicated working group under the leadership of the UCI medical director with the teams, the team doctors, and the organisers to ensure safety during races. There is a focus on regulating the start of races; for example as teams and media congregate around team buses and riders, fencing could be implemented.
Lappartient continued: “All these questions we are now discussing internally to set up guidelines for organisers, for teams, and with stakeholders to be ready for the start of the season. It is an ongoing process, but we hope to be ready as soon as possible.”
The Frenchman also insisted the minimum salaries for World Tour teams would remain the same, as would the guidelines to ensure 45 minutes minimum of live coverage of any Women’s World Tour race, although adaptations may have to be made.
“We want to stick to 45 minutes live, but maybe we have to adapt to this, because in some races there are overlaps with the men and other sports and that is a challenge for broadcasters, as all sports will hopefully be back in September,” Lappartient explained.
As for Paris Roubaix, Lappartient believes it is “wonderful” for the women to have the same opportunities as the men in one of the greatest classics races in the world.
“It was in the pipeline and we have been pushing very hard. There is no reason not to have a Paris-Roubaix for women and we have had good, productive messages from ASO on this,” he stated.
“Gender equality is moving in the right way – we have new UCI Women’s World Tour Teams, we have new races like this one, and hopefully soon one big stage race – we also need this. I have seen some very positive comments on social media from riders, including French rider Audrey Cordon Ragot, who said the best news of the day was a Women’s Paris-Roubaix. I am very happy.”
Take a look at the brand new UCI Women’s World Tour Calendar HERE.