The UCI has announced that U23 women will be able to race for their own rainbow bands from 2022, but they must still wait until 2025 for a standalone event.
“The UCI has decided to create a UCI World Champion title in the road race and individual time trial in the Women Under 23 category,” read the press release. “This new title will be introduced at the 2022 edition of the UCI Road World Championships, which will take place in Wollongong (Australia).”
This is a step – a small one – in the right direction, which comes a few months after the post-Leuven furore swept up by UCI president David Lappartient. In a press conference during the 2021 World Championships, Lappartient said that the UCI was in a position to open up a new category, but that it would take some time to separate it completely from the elite race, as confirmed in Saturday’s release.
“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 organised for athletes in the Women Under 23 category.
“The award of a UCI World Champion title in the road race and individual time trial in the Women Under 23 category is a further step towards parity between men and women in terms of sports programmes and is part of the policy implemented by the UCI in this area, which will lead, after an incremental progression, to the full attainment of this key objective for the Federation.”
Positive though this ‘incremental’ step might be, it remains to be seen what it means for the dynamics of the events in question between now and 2025.