The 2017 road cycling calendar – where have the changes happened?

I’ve been looking at the 2017 women’s road cycling calendar – in Part 1 of this series, I looked at how 2017 compares to 2016 (and how the 2016 calendar changed between) publication and racing, and in Part 2, I looked at how 2017 fits into the patterns of numbers of races over time.  Now, I’m going to look at where the changes have happened, and the implications for the women’s calendar as a whole.

So here’s how the races have changed since 2006.  I used 2006 as my base year, the first time I started this research, as it was the first full year of races logged on CQ Ranking, but it’s useful as it includes three Olympic years, and as you can see, there’s been an upward trend on most continents, but there tends to be a large increase in the Olympic year, then a reduction the following year, and a slow climb to the next Olympic year.

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The loss of women’s road races in 2017 – and patterns since 2006

I am in the middle of having a look at the UCI women’s road calendar for 2017, and one of the things I like to do is to look at each year in the context of recent history.  I think it’s important to see what the trends are, and what things mean for the calendar.  In Part 1 of this year’s work, I looked at the chaos of the 2016 road calendar, and how many changes there were between the calendar being published in October 2016, and what was actually raced. As well as that, I looked at how the 2017 is different to 2016. – and this time I’m going to put that in the context of research I’ve already done.

I started this in 2011, and took 2006 as my “base” year, because that’s when CQ Ranking started their comprehensive records, and it seemed as good a place as any.  This gives us patterns to look at – and I have to say, at first glance, the numbers are depressing.  Here’s how the number of women’s road races in 2017 compares to previous years:

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But within cycling, it’s not just about the number of races, because that can be misleading:  the Giro Rosa, 10 days long, provides more racing than 6 days races, for example.  So I also look at this in terms of racing days:

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Looking back at the 2016 Road Cycling Calendar – and ahead to 2017

For the last six years, on and off, I’ve been doing some research and analysis of the women’s cycling road calendar.  I started this in the first place because I wanted to really understand the impact of losing and gaining races because I hadn’t seen it anywhere else; and because I work visually, I ended up with lots of colour-coordinated charts and spreadsheets.  You can find the earlier posts in the Podium Café series, and then the posts from last year under the women’s road calendar tag on this website.

Now, I usually do this when the UCI announces the coming year’s calendar, around the Road World Champs, but this year, I couldn’t face it, and saved it up until a newsworthy time – which turned out to be a good move. The thing that stopped me doing it  is that it changes so much in the months between the announcement and when the races actually take place.

We see this every year – new races that are announced that never run (I’m thinking of the Syrian races, which were included in the calendar for years, even though the war made it perfectly clear they’d never happen, as the most egregious examples, but every year there are more), ones that move around the calendar between initial announcement, and the “pop-up” races that are given UCI status so late in the year that of course most big teams, who have to set their racing schedules in the summer, can’t get there.  If you want examples, check out my posts about the 2016 season:  the initial announcement in October, changes between October and December, and then more changes by February.

And now it’s time for my annual look at the difference between was was initially on the calendar for 2016, and what was actually raced – and then I’ll look ahead to what we know about 2016.  Prepare for the colour coding!

How did the 2016 calendar change between original publication and racing?

To have a closer look, click on each image, or you can open the PDF version.

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Guest blog: Peter van der Veen’s Olympic qualification update

Back in November, Peter van der Veen, one of the best women’s cycling twitterers, and stalwart of Cycling Fever, explained the qualification system for the women’s road cycling in Rio 2016.  Here he updates the situation…

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Today the qualification period for the women’s Rio Olympics road race ended, and everyone has been very curious about which countries gets to go and how many and which riders they will take. After my blog in late fall, I had a lot of fans, riders and even national coaches asking me for updates on the standings. This was because the rules are quite complex and the UCI was not very keen on providing regular updates. Below I will try to explain the rules of allocating the 67 places in the Olympic women’s road race and 25 places in the time trail. But first:

It is very important to know that I did this as a fan and so this is not close to official. Most of it was done by hand and it is possible that there are some errors in the standings. Also it is very likely a nation will turn down a spot and the UCI interprets the rules for reallocation differently than I have.

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An incomplete list of British Cycling’s issues with women riders

This week there’s been tons in the news about British Cycling and discrimination, particularly relating to allegations of sexism, saying a rider’s too old to race at 25, and most recently, discrimination against para-cyclists.  This started when British Cycling talked to the Telegraph about dropping sprinter Jess Varnish from the programme – which wasn’t a surprise, as she had voiced her frustrations about how BC had handled the Team Sprint, when GB failed to qualify at the 2016 Track World Championships.  Varnish’s issue then was the choices BC had made about the teams they put into races for the Olympic Qualifying period, and so BC’s sacking her was expected at the time.

She then responded, and what was surprising is that she’s alleged to have been told to “go off and have a baby”, and that at 25 she’s too old to improve.  It was followed by British Cycling’s Performance Director, Shane Sutton, denying that in the media – and some great pieces by former Olympic and World Champions Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton speaking out in defense of Varnish, Varnish’s official statement, and an interview talking about a ‘culture of fear‘ at BC, an interesting comment from Lizzie Armitstead, a piece on the MTB issues from Jenny Copnall and then (Daily Mail link) Para-cyclist Darren Kenny and “multiple sources” talking about offensive language and behaviour towards Para-cyclists – which lead to Sutton’s suspension, and then resignation.

Update! Olympic Champion Rebecca Romero also talked about the toxic velodrome atmosphere

So that’s this week! But this is very much part of a pattern.  While big name men like Bradley Wiggins have come out defending Sutton, and track superstar Laura Trott doing the same, this is part of a LONG pattern of top-name women talking about their bad experiences with British Cycling and their approach to women’s cycling (whether they use the word “sexism” or not), and Shane Sutton.

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The 2016 women’s road calendar – changes since December

I’ve got an sporadic series looking at how the women’s road cycling calendar changes over time, because it’s something that really fascinates me. The bottom-line conclusions are that women’s road racing is definitely improving year-on-year, with more UCI races in more countries, and there are really positive trends.  One of these has been fewer major clashes, and the return of UCI racing to Australia, which really make me happy to report.

However there are still ongoing areas for improvement, like “pop-up” races being added late to the calendar, and  various changes that happen during the series that can make things really difficult for teams to plan their season (find out more about that, in my 2015 interviews with two DSs last year about this – ORICA-AIS’ Marv Barras, for the big team perspective, and Matrix Procycling’s Stefan Wyman for the small team PoV).

This year, I’ve decided to look into when the changes happen during the season as well – I wrote about what was planned for 2016 when the calendar was announced, in October, and then changes that had been made between October and December, and now the season’s up and running, I’ve taken another look – and found we’ve got both new races, and races that have disappeared since the end of 2015 (although not all of that is bad).   Let’s start with some colour-coded charts – click on them to make them bigger.

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Interview with Dr Rachel Aldred on increasing everyday cycling – the write-up

Podcast interview logoJust before Christmas, I interviewed Dr Rachel Aldred, who does fantastic work both as a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster, and with her Near Miss Project, looking at what helps and hinders people to cycle more in the UK, including a focus on issues of equality, diversity and equity in cycling.  You can listen to the interview as a podcast here, and I’ve transcribed it below, if you prefer to read instead.

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ProWomensCycling: Can you describe what you do in a nutshell?

Rachel Aldred:  I do a lot of research in cycling in a range of ways, using a lot of different methods, but cycling is really my research passion.   I also teach Transport Planning as well, and lead an MSc in Transport Planning.

PWC: And you have quite a lot of other strings to your bow – you’re involved in the London Cycling Campaign, and a lot of other projects.  The one I was interested in is the Near Miss Project – can you tell us a little more about that?

RA:  The Near Miss Project got going just over a year ago, and it looks at cycling ‘near misses’, but at the heart of it, I wanted to do this One Day Diary, and get people to record cycling trips, and any near miss-type incidents they experienced over the course of one day, and then the idea was to derive a near miss rate that you could compare with injury rates, for example, because it seemed to me – and we know now from the research too – that near misses are really very common, and can have a substantial impact on people, but there’s very little work done on them.  We don’t know how often they happen, and so on.  So I really wanted to find out about near misses, both from injury prevention purposes, but also from the cycling experience angle, that these things that happen, potentially, every day, could have a substantial impact on people, and how people feel about cycling.

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