Vuelta a España
What we knew
The race was announced in February this year, during the push for a women's Tour de France, so this is not unexpected. Read more.
What we know now
It'll be a day race on the final stage of the Vuelta, 13th September, on Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid. This means it'll clash with the Lotto Belisol Belgium Tour, but enough teams will want to race this to make it worthwhile. What will it be like? Vuelta Director Javier Guillén told Cyclingnews:
"It would be very similar to La Course, and have the same objective: to help boost women’s cycling and try to give it the same kind of high-profile it gained in France on the last day of the men’s Tour."
Hopefully this doesn't mean it'll be a short race like La Course was, and is over 100km - but the indications about tv are very good. It'll be flat and sprinty, and likely to be full of time triallers, as the pre-Worlds Chrono Champenois is the day before.
What we don't know
Pretty much everything else. Hopefully it will be UCI-ranked race, and if it is like La Course, maybe it'll be 1.1? But this is especially good news for Spanish cycling, which has been suffering in recent years. And of course, the ASO is under pressure to up their game...
Amgen Tour of California
What we knew
The Tour of California has been under pressure to put on a proper women's race, as they use to run a UCI-level crit, dropped it, replaced it with an "invitational" ITT in 2011 (very limited numbers, no national/UCI points, and originally launched with a big PR fail), repeated since then, with another crit this year that was announced late, and non-national-level. In September they announced they'd add a multi-day women's race for their 10-year anniversary in 2015, which was much-welcomed, especially by the USA-based teams and pros.
What we know
There'll still be an "invitational time trial" on 15th May, in Big Bear Lake, before the men's ITT. We don't know who'll be invited - it's tended to be North American riders, and include triathletes and riders from other disciplines.
What's new is a three-day stage race, 8th-10th May, with the first two stages held before the men's race starts, in South Lake Tahoe, and the third in Sacramento, on the same day/place as the men's race starts. More information on the AToC website.
What we don't know
We don't know what level this will be - whether this will be UCI-level, USA-national or like last year, un-ranked. If it's UCI-level, that would fit really well with the USA-UCI-mini-season, synching nicely with the newly-UCI Joe Martin Stage Race (23rd-26th April) and the Silver City Tour of the Gila (29th April-3rd May). It's fantastic for the domestic teams that USA races will give them UCI points - and if there are three UCI races this close together, we might see more European-based teams crossing the Atlantic to race.
New addition to the 2015 Road World Cup - the Parx Hotel Philly Classic
This is very interesting - it seems like there's been a change to the UCI calendar, as the Philly Classic is now showing as part of the Road World Cup. Bidone Jack found this, and I can't see any more information about it, on the UCI or the race website, so we can't count this as 100% confirmed yet, though Megster found this article from August about them hoping to do this. But it would be very good news, as the World Cup is 9 races, with all but one in Europe, when it used to have 12 rounds, including in Canada and Australia. And the Philly Classic is such a tough, fun race, which has been running since 1994, and ending with an uphill sprint up the Manyunk Wall.
It would also add balance to the World Cup calendar, which currently has four Spring Classics rounds in March and April, the Tour of ChongMing Island in China on 17th May, then a break until the last four rounds (Sparkassen Giro, the two Vårgårda races and GP Plouay) in August. Having Philly, on 7th June, means there's less of a break in racing - and as we've seen this year, with Lizzie Armitstead winning the overall despite skipping ChongMing and Germany, it's not necessary for riders to race all rounds to do well, though riders who cross the Atlantic will have an advantage. And the race already fits nicely with the Canadian ITT races, GP Gatineau and Chrono Gatineau on 4th and 5th June, so again, there's a real incentive for Euro teams to make the journey.
Philly Classic had home-made livestream this year, so hopefully this means we'll step up to a proper livestream for 2015. But as I say, wait for a formal announcement before getting really excited.
So, good news, in that more races are always better - but qualified good news, as the ASO could definitely do more this year, and there's very little to go on about Cali. Still, it does prove that the pressure from the peloton is paying off, and it's a relief to be talking about new races at this time of year, rather than disappearing races. Things are getting better!
You can see how these two races fit into the 2015 women's calendar, and how they fit into the pattern of the last ten years of changes - as I say, we're on the way up!