Tour de France organiser ASO has pulled two races from the UCI Women’s World Tour (WWT) as it is not willing to provide the 45 minutes of live TV coverage required by the UCI.
The Telegraph reports that La Flèche Wallonne Femmes and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes will not meet the more stringent WWT requirements for 2020.
The races will most likely drop down to the new UCI ProSeries, the tier of racing below the WWT.
The news was confirmed by Tom Van Damme, President of the UCI's Road Commission, who told DirectVelo: "One of the conditions for being in the Women's WorldTour is the guarantee of live television coverage of at least 45 minutes. The ASO and the Walloon public broadcaster RTBF are not able to provide this service next season."
World champion and five-time Flèche Wallonne winner, Anna van der Breggen, told Cycling News that elite women’s races deserved to have live TV coverage.
"There's still a chance to have a broadcast and if ASO don’t do it then they will take out their races. I think that's a good thing because we would like to have our races broadcast. We deserve a broadcast and those races don’t provide that over all these years.
"We need races that are organised very well and apparently they don’t want to cooperate with the development of women’s cycling, so I think then you have to make a decision, and it’s not bad for us if they pull out their races, to make a statement that we deserve broadcasting."
Tibco-SVB team owner Linda Jackson, who was at the UCI meeting where the new rule was announced, said she could understand ASO’s decision from a business perspective.
"At the time, it was brought up from the UCI as part of the cycling reform that they were going to require Women’s World Tour events organisers to provide 45 minutes of live TV coverage. ASO were there, and they said 'if you’re going to require us to do that than maybe we just don’t participate.'
"There are two ways to react to that. First, is that it’s terrible and they should be doing this TV coverage. The other reaction is from a business perspective. I’m all about equality for women but I believe that we need to achieve it and not demand it. We have been doing pretty well on a trajectory by achieving it. I don’t like ASO’s decision, but I understand it from a business perspective. It can’t be forced, it has to be achieved gradually and I think we’ve been doing that."
Trek-Segafredo director Ina-Yoko Teutenberg said she felt that broadcasting the women’s races was an easy way to add further value to broadcasts.
"I think they need to realise that when the women finish the men’s race is ongoing and not much happening, so if they would provide the TV time for the women’s race, they would actually get more people watching their event – people who can see an exciting women’s finish and then watch the rest of the men’s race. It doesn’t make any sense to me."