The days of the men's elite road race being the 'blue riband' event of the UCI World Road Championships are over, believes top Australian cycling race director John Trevorrow.
Trevorrow, who is also a former professional cyclist, believes the women's and men's elite road races at the UCI World Road Championships in Wollongong from September 18-25 deserve equal billing.
Saturday, September 24 will feature the 67.2km women's junior road race, followed by the 164.3km women's elite race.
Whereas, Sunday, September 25 will be highlighted by the 266.9km men's elite road race.
Trevorrow's assessment is based on the success of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes that started on Sunday, July 24 in Paris and finished last Sunday at La Super Planches des Belles Filles in the Vosges of north-eastern France.
Won by Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten, the Tour was highlighted by terrific racing, large crowds, and huge print and online media readerships and television audiences.
Trevorrow predicts a positive spin off effect on women's cycling, especially at Wollongong where the women's and men's elite road races will be the final two events.
"It'll be a blue riband weekend of racing, not a weekend where the men's race is the blue riband event," he says.
"The women's race is set be as exciting as the men's race."
Trevorrow's viewpoint carries plenty of weight. He is the race director of one of Australia's oldest stage races, the Herald Sun Tour that he won three times as a professional cyclist (1975,1977 and 1979).
He also founded and organises the Bay Classic criterium series, first held in 1989, and designed the race routes for the 2010 world road titles in Geelong when they were last held in Australia.
A 1972 Munich Olympian and four times Australian road champion (1970, 1978, 1979 and 1980), Trevorrow also raced professional in Europe, including in the 1981 Giro d'Italia.
He also rode in two amateur world road titles (1970 and 1973) and four as a professional (1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981). Trevorrow believes the Tour de France Femmes showcased women's racing at its best.
He says that was due to the riders racing so well and with so much emotion, and the massive interest in the Tour among the public who attended the race in droves, and the mainstream and specialist cycling media.
"Their passion was so inspiring," said Trevorrow of the women who raced the Tour. "And so many of those who are inspired are the younger women riders who are coming up.
"The race was seen by so many. It was great that it was shown on live television and covered so much by the media. Before, only a selected number of women riders were well known; but now, with the success of the women's Tour and how the women raced, so many more are known publicly.
"But the women's Tour showed how people in general - and not just within the sport - are really loving women's racing. You could see that by the crowds that came to watch it.
"They were bigger than what you see in many men's races. With many of the same riders coming to the worlds in Wollongong we should see more great racing and crowds."
The men's elite road race will hopefully see the French defending and two times world champion, Julian Alaphilippe
Other stars expected are this year's Tour de France winner, Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard; the 2020 and 2021 Tour winner and this year's Slovenian runner-up Tadej Pogear; Belgian Wout van Aert who won three stages in the Tour, the green points jersey and most combative rider title; Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel and Belgian Remco Evenpoel.
The women's field should be as strong as the men's, with NSW's Amanda Spratt set to lead the Australian team pending her recovery from crash injuries that led to her withdrawal from the Tour efore stage three.
Two other Dutch stars should be van Vleuten, who also won the last two stages in the Tour following her victory in the Giro d'Italia Donne; and Marianne Vos, a champion on the track, mountain bike and in gravel racing who in the women's Tour won stages two and six, wore the yellow leader's jersey for the first five stages and took home the green points jersey.
There is also the respective second and third placed finishers in the Tour, Dutchwoman in Demi Vollering who also won the Queen of the Mountains polka dot jersey and Italian Silvia Persico, Dutch stage one and five winner Lorena Wiebes and the respective winners of stage three and four, Denmark's Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Switzerland's Marlen Reusser.
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