A decision could be made in the first half of 2024 due to logistical constraints and rider development considerations
The U23 women will line up at the Federation University Australian National Road Championships road race on Sunday, scattered among the elite women and possibly the last. From 2025, this category may have autonomous racing.
“We were one of the first countries to recognize women under 23 and put them on the podium – criterium, time trial and road race – and it's been a number of years now,” said AusCycling's managing general manager. . Game, said Kip Kaufman Cycling news At the Australian National Road Championships in Ballaram. “I think it's a good and proud starting point. »
However, this journey seems to be taking a new step.
The first road world championships to include an U23 women's title took place two years ago in Wollongong in 2022, running as a race within the elite race, just as the Australian championship has for more than 15 years. But while the recognition of the U23 women's title is a positive step – while the U23 men have long had a title and a separate race at national and global platforms – the combined U23 and elite race format certainly has its drawbacks.
For starters, there's no priceless and quickly recognized photo of you throwing your arms in the air in celebration when first crossing the line. In fact, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether riders have won before the event, as they are scattered across the combined elite/U23 peloton, where all other considerations are overshadowed in the battle for the elite title. .
The Road World Championships will be converted to a fully women's U23 event in 2025. AusCycling's Kauffman said he would announce a decision on whether to make the change next year, in the first half of 2024. If so, the stand-alone U23 women's race will be held alongside the national championships heading to Ballarat for the first time in almost 20 years.
“It's with this change that we want to make the under-23 women's road race, specifically, a race in its own right,” Kaufman said.
However, there are some important challenges and considerations before this possibility becomes a reality.
“We have to do two things: make sure we can achieve this operationally … and make sure it's the best way from an athlete development standpoint and from a team development standpoint,” Kaufman said. We will do this stakeholder engagement on their behalf, but as part of the process.
While there are a few bumps with logistics, it's not an issue that looks like it could be a show stopper.
“We probably haven't addressed this stakeholder area because we haven't tackled the logistics area or the operational challenges yet,” Kaufman said. “But just because we have operational challenges doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.
“We've found ways to do it with the under-19s, we've found ways to do it with para-cycling, we've found ways to do it all and I think to be leaders in this domain. We must definitely be a leader among women under 23.
The start list for Sunday's Combined U23/Elite Women's Road Race consists of 22 women under 23, out of a total of 75. Ella Simpson won the U23 women's road race title in 2023, crossing the finish line in ninth place. together with U23/Elite race.