Women's Race Secures UCI WorldTour Status
The Santos Tour Down Under women’s race will return next summer as a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Women’s WorldTour event – the top level of road cycling competition.
Fans can look forward to seeing elite international teams and riders compete across South Australia in a three-stage race from Sunday 15–Tuesday 17 January. The same peloton will also take part in a city criterium on 14 January.
The Santos Tour Down Under women’s race will be the first event of the year on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar, while the men’s event kicks off the UCI WorldTour season.
Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said category elevation also meant the state was now home to Australia’s only UCI Women’s WorldTour stage race.
“Today we celebrate a major milestone for an event that shares South Australia with a diverse international audience,” Ms Bettison said.
“Elevation to the UCI Women’s WorldTour will cycling offer fans another reason to holiday in our state and support its $6.2 billion visitor economy.”
The Santos Tour Down Under women’s race began in 2016 and maintained its initial UCI 2.2 status until 2020, when it joined the UCI ProSeries. In 2018 it became the first cycling event in the world to offer women the same prize money as men.
A place on the UCI Women’s WorldTour means an increase in the coveted season points available to the international teams and riders taking part.
Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Katrine Hildyard said it was an exciting move.
“This bold step reinforces South Australia’s strength in hosting major sporting events and our ongoing commitment to those featuring women,” Ms Hildyard said.
“It’s exciting to imagine the impact the Santos Tour Down Under will have, and how it will inspire a new generation of athletes, including more women and girls, to get involved in the excellent sport of cycling.”
Race Director Stuart O’Grady OAM will lead the women’s event as part of its elevation to the UCI WorldTour. He will be joined by two assistant race directors: South Australian cycling stars Annette Edmondson and Carlee Taylor.
“We share a passion for this great race and are committed to seizing the opportunities its new status will bring,” O’Grady said.
“Moving to the UCI Women’s WorldTour means elite teams – who increasingly have male and female rosters – can share resources, and it also reaffirms South Australia as the best place to begin each professional cycling season.”
O’Grady said he looked forward to working alongside Edmondson and Taylor, former professionals who are among Australia’s most accomplished cyclists.
“It’s such an exciting team – three proud advocates for South Australia with the knowledge and international contacts to shape a new phase for the Santos Tour Down Under and continue delivering a great experience for fans and riders,” O’Grady said.
UCI President David Lappartient said: “Since 2016 the Santos Tour Down Under women’s race has delighted athletes and fans with its fantastic organisation and high-profile racing. It is a pleasure to see this event join our leading series of races for women’s professional road cycling alongside the biggest and most important events in the world.
“This Australian race will showcase the depth and strength of the women’s peloton and set the tone for a season of intense and hard-fought racing.”
Santos Managing Director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said the company was passionate about supporting the elevation of the women’s race to UCI Women’s WorldTour, after having supported women’s cycling in South Australia for more than a decade.
“Proudly South Australian, Santos is proud to partner with the Tour Down Under yet again to see this prestigious event take to the Adelaide streets,” Mr Gallagher said.
“We’re excited for another action-packed summer watching the world’s elite cyclists compete while showcasing South Australia to the globe.”
The Santos Tour Down Under is taking place in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 13-22 January 2023. It will feature eight days of UCI WorldTour men’s and women’s racing.
Routes for the women’s race will be launched later this year.