Refusing to provide TV coverage, ASO pulls Flèche and Liège out of Women’s WorldTour
Flèche-Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will not be part of the Women’s WorldTour (WWT) in 2020, as race organizer ASO will not provide the required 45 minutes of live TV coverage from the two events, according to a report in DirectVelo.
The President of the UCI’s Road Commission, Tom Van Damme, confirmed the move to DirectVelo on Thursday.
“One of the conditions for being in the Women’s WorldTour is the guarantee of live television coverage of at least 45 minutes, and ASO and the Walloon public RTBF are not able to provide this service next season,” Van Damme said.
Liège and Flèche will be come part of the ProSeries, a new second-tier event category for 2020.
The Women’s WorldTour, which began in 2017, organizes races and teams into a tiered system. The top tier, WorldTour, is guaranteed access to the WorldTour calendar. Each year since 2017 has seen an increase in the requirements for race organizers to stay in the WorldTour. This year, each WWT race was required to provide a video recap, as well as online information in English and French. In 2020, live broadcast is required to maintain WorldTour status.
Rumours of the ASO’s decision to pull two of its marquee one-day races out of the WWT calendar swirled throughout the spring. The cost of adding live TV coverage is considerable, even when paired with a men’s race that is already covered by live TV. However, races owned by entities significantly smaller than ASO, like Trofeo Binda and Strade Bianche, have provided TV or online streaming coverage.
UCI President David Lappartient has previously criticized ASO for its failure to adequately support women’s racing. “I told them, ‘You are the leading organisation in the world so you have to take your part of the responsibility to support women’s cycling,’ Lappartient said in 2018. At the time, Lappartient was pushing ASO to add a women’s race alongside the final ten days of the Tour de France, replacing the short La Course event.