It’s mid-February and we’ve already seen three races in the 2023 Women’s World Tour. We’re going to pretend that didn’t happen and consider this a preview anyway, not because we disrespect Down Under or the desert (although we do, kinda) but because those were really just appetizers and the real feast is yet to come. For sanity reasons we’ll split this into two parts, in this article I’ll focus on the teams and riders and later on we’ll do a bit of a presentation of the races and calendar because I’ve been told it’s very important that fans understand the narrative of the season. And I have every confidence that by the time we get to the second article I will definitely understand the narrative and will be able to explain it. Well, I have some confidence…… ok, realistically I have at least a small glimmer of hope that I will understand it by then*.
But first, on to the players and what has happened since we last played WWT.
(*I probably won’t)
What are WWT teams and why do they matter?
The Womens World Tour has been around since 2016 but the real start date is really 2020 when the registration of WWT teams started. With this came the big step up in demands both on teams, in terms of minimum wage and whole new levels of team organization, and on races to provide live video coverage and a host of other things. The expectation was that very few teams would be able to meet the financial demands but already the first year 8 teams got WWT licenses and as of 2023 all the 15 available licenses are filled, with the UCI even having more applicants than they had licenses to give. This means that if the trend holds then there will be the same relegation/promotion points fight among the women’s teams as we have just started seeing on the men’s side. In fact we may already have seen a taste of this with a handful of the teams in that uncomfortable zone finding it worth the sacrifice to make the trip down under for the two first legs of the WWT and the points available there.
A notable difference between the men’s and women’s WT is that participation in every event is not mandatory for the women teams. Races are obligated to invite all 15 but they are free to accept invites or not. Understandably most teams do attempt to do as much of the WWT calendar as possible but with smaller team size and an expanding calendar it will be intriguing to see how teams handle invites strategically in 2023. But more on the calendar and the…
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