The RideLondon Classique returned to the Women’s WorldTour calendar for the first time this year since the beginning of the pandemic, with Team DSM sprinter Lorena Wiebes winning all three stages in an impressive hat-trick. Fans were only able to watch one of those wins live, however, as despite extending the race by two stages organisers failed to provide mandatory live images of those two additional days.
The UCI stipulates that all Women’s WorldTour events must provide a minimum of 45 minutes of live coverage including daily coverage for stage races. If an event fails to comply with these requirements the consequence is relegation to 2.Pro status for the following season.
In a press release sent out on Thursday The UCI strongly condemned RideLondon’s failure to provide coverage of the first two stages.
“At the 2022 edition of the UCI Women’s WorldTour event RideLondon Classique (Great Britain), the event organisers did not provide the required live TV coverage of each stage, but only of the last stage. This constitutes a breach of the UCI Regulations and of the specifications that every organiser of the UCI Women’s WorldTour is required to respect. It is also, first and foremost, an unacceptable lack of respect for the teams and riders involved in the competition,” it read.
The statement went on to outline the UCI’s intention to relegate the race to 2.Pro level unless “firm commitments concerning the live TV broadcasting of all the stages” could be shown ahead of time.
“For this reason, the UCI Management Committee has taken the decision to make the registration of the event on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar for the 2023 season conditional to the presentation of firm commitments concerning the live TV broadcasting of all the stages. In the meantime, the Management Committee has taken the decision to register the RideLondon Classique in the UCI ProSeries class for the 2023 season. For the UCI, daily live TV coverage of the UCI Women’s WorldTour events, which include the most prestigious races in women’s professional road cycling, is fundamental to ensure its continued international development. A final decision on the status of this race will be taken at the UCI Management Committee meeting in September.”
This is not the first time UCI has stepped in to punish events for failing to provide live coverage. In 2020, the Giro Rosa organisers failed to show any images of the 10-day race live and the race was duly relegated to 2.Pro level for 2021. The race has now returned to the Women’s WorldTour this year and promises extended live coverage this time around.
While RideLondon faced demotion by the governing body, Flanders Classics-owned Omloop het Nieuwsblad will be promoted to the Women’s WorldTour calendar alongside Tour Down Under — in it’s first post-Covid edition — as well as the Tour de Suisse and UAE Tour.
Live coverage is widely considered the foremost important factor in growing women’s cycling, with visibility being a key feature in attracting sponsorship and interest.