This race was billed as a return of the late lamented Tour de l'Aude, one of three women's races that were allowed by the UCI to be longer than a week. It tried to run last year, but was cancelled at pretty late notice, and looked shaky all year, quite frankly - and for fans it's been frustrating, as the race has had no web presence (and apparently, very little information for teams).
CJ Farquharson, of womenscycling.net, was the first to break this news - and here's some reactions and what we know so far.
Tour Langedouc Rousillion cancelled. Appalling behaviour by organiser, teams are already on the way or at HQ already— WomensCycling (@WomensCycling) May 16, 2013
Last year they cancelled when all travel arrangements were made and tickets purchased. This year they wait until teams arrive on site..— Karl Lima (@Karl_Lima_Hitec) May 16, 2013
Wat een schandaal! Lanquedoc organisatie laat op het laatste moment de koers niet door gaan. Alle ploegen zijn er al! UCI doe hier iets aan!— Martine Bras (@martinebras) May 16, 2013
It seems really, really bad management for the race to be cancelled so close to the start time - and I can't understand how a police problem could only be identified the night before. And, as Karl Lima says, these organisers have history. I am really feeling for teams who have made plans around this race, in the context of preparing for the Giro Rosa next month - and have spent the money travelling to get there.
Check back later, and I'll update with more that we find out - and if you see any updates, add them to the comments. I would be very interested in hearing any statement from the UCI - because while women's cycling is in a really exciting place, in terms of teams and riders, the calendar is in a really, really precarious situation.
UPDATE! Marijn de Vries and Annemiek van Vleuten are tweeting that the race has told teams to come anyway, as although the organisers have told them it's cancelled, there's apparently a chance it'll go ahead, and they'll know in 2 hours' time - at 17:00 the night before the race should start....
UPDATE! CJ Farquharson has more news. She says
A source within the organisation divulged that there are insufficient funds to run the race.
This explains why, despite the late hour, some, if not all, hotel lists were not yet released by the organiser. Speculatively, the rooms probably had not been booked. Police and race security and planning meetings had taken place, as recently as last weekend. At the time, the organiser was claiming to be overwhelmed with workload, preparations, but did not mention that there was a deficit in funds.
UPDATE! The race is going ahead, starting on Saturday, but teams are really angry about this. Rabobank-Liv/Giant and Boels-Dolmans have left in protest, Rabo citing concerns about safety and lack of trust in the organisers. Other teams are staying - for the moment - but saying that if the police issues aren't sorted out, they won't ride tomorrow. It's a total fiasco. Check the comments for more information as it comes....
and World Champion Marianne Vos isn't there, but she's supporting her team-mates all the way....
MEDIA UPDATE! It's Friday evening in Euro-land, and so far, only one of the big cycling sites is covering this story - which is bizarre, it raises really important issues, AND it's got controversy. But anyway, we can always rely on the lovely Ben Atkins at Velonation - his article has comments from teams that left and are staying - though no comments from the race organiser, the UCI or the French Federation, as none of them would answer his questions....