The UCI have just announced their calendar of races for 2011 (although I prefer using Cycling Fever's excellent calendarisation, as you can hop through the links to their race pages, which include links to the race sites, info about previous year's races & results, & all kinds of goodies. They have a great racing calendar in general - start here, it's upated as they go)
After losing the Tour de l'Aude, and the Grand Boucle last year, we're down to only 1 stage race that's over a week, and that leaves a BIG hole in the calendar. There are a few more stage races added - the new Spanish stage race looks especially good, but as the organisers are already saying they're having money troubles, it may never happen. In fact, the whole calendar should come with a huge banner caveat of "just because they're announced, doesn't mean they won't disappear", so if you're thinking there are more new than old races on there, don't get your hopes up just yet!
I was planning to write an article on what the differences are between 2010 and 2011, and things to look out for, but the fantastic & knowledgable Skip Madness has already published a great analysis over on BBC 606, pointing out what's different for 2011 With Skip's permission, I've cross-posted it below the jump - thanks so much, Skip, for letting me cross-post - of course, once you get around to signing up here, you can post it yourself!
The Skip analysis. Any hyperlinks are mine (BBC hates links so it's easier to not bother) - so if they're wrong, it's me-not-Skip!
Along with all their other road calendars, the UCI revealed their women's calendar for next year yesterday. It has some stuff gone, some stuff new, and some stuff which was gone and is now back. Now this is women's cycling, so expect half of the new things to never actually happen, but meh. Here are the main changes:
One day races:
Gone: GP Comune di Cornaredo (I don't know if this will be on the Italian domestic calendar or not)
Gone: Omloop Door Middag Humsterland (with the same caveat)
New: Cholet Pays de Loire (March 20 - upgraded from French domestic race)
New: Clásico Aniversário de la FVC (May 16 - upgraded from Venezuelan calendar)
New: Copa Corre por la Vida (May 17 - upgraded from Venezuelan calendar)
New: Dorpenomloop Aalburg (May 28 - upgraded from Dutch domestic race)
Returning: GP Brissago (March 05)
Returning: All three of last year's scheduled Costa Etrusca races (March 18, 19 and 20)
Returning: Blauwe Stad TTT (August 27)
Upgraded: The Sparkassen Giro has been upgraded to being the final round of the World Cup (September 03)
Gone: Tour de l'Aude
New: Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (Spain, March 01-05, although race website says March 22-26)
New: Van Lauwerszee tot Dollard tou (Netherlands, April 07-10)
New: Puchar Prezesa LZS (Poland, June 28-29)
Returning: Tour de Bretagne (July 14-17)
Beyond all that, there are some notable date changes. Plouay has moved back a week, and now comes before the Sparkassen Giro which has been moved back a month. The Holland Ladies Tour and Giro della Toscana have also moved to slots one week later than usual.
So the stand-out loss is the Tour de l'Aude. One of only two ten-day races on the calendar, it's cancellation had been in the pipeline for a while and this just confirms once more what we already knew a few weeks ago.
On a more positive note, it's pleasing to see UCI-ranked events in Venezuela, even though I expect they will have more local than international fields. It's also good that other well-respected domestic races are moving up the pecking order.
Of more interest to me still are the new stage races, and in particular the Setmana Valenciana. The good news is that the organisers say they'll have a route with one time trial, one flat stage, two mixed flat and climbing stages and one proper climbing stage. Hopefully that last one means proper proper proper climbs, of which Valencia has plenty. God knows the calendar needs more mountains. They also say they're modelling their race on the success of the Emakumeen Bira, which is automatically cool. And on their website, the president of the club which is trying to put it together says they have conceived a "socio-sporting event" which beyond being a bike race plans to develop themes and actions related to the lives of women: violence against women; the status of women in sport and society in general; illnesses that affect women; women in the world of work, business and management etc.
The bad news? Another quote from the same person just below says that they feel capable and prepared to organise an event of this level, but they don't yet have the money to get it together and as such they are first asking for help from public institutions. Given the budget cuts in Spain, I hope they do OK but the alarm bells are already ringing. They also thank the media for turning up and reporting on it. I desperately hope this goes ahead.
So some good, some bad, some good which will go bad, some optimism, some pessimism, some soon to be deflated resignation. What were you expecting?
Sparkassen Giro as the final round of the World Cup makes absolute sense - and moving it back means that it doesn't clash with Holland Hills. Good to have a German race back in the World Cup, and they run a great race.... And I guess now that ChongMing Island Tour & WC no longer clash with the late, lamented l'Aude, we might see more of the big riders over there (although it's pancake flat, so it doesn't do as an equivalent....