Is the 2018 Giro Rosa really the biggest women’s bike race of the year?

2018 Giro Rosa
2018 Giro Rosa
Tour of Britain

Every year at this time I write about the Women’s ‘biggest’ stage race of the year – the 2018 Giro Rosa, a race that is starting at the end of this week. This year I’m going to take a slightly different approach because I think the Giro Rosa, while it’s the women’s race with the most stages, it’s been pipped as the ‘biggest’ by some other events that are getting more attention like the Women’s Tour of Britain.

The Women’s Tour of Britain which took place last month for the fifth time is getting more attention because its organisers are doing a much better job of promoting the event. It was a five stage race held in mid-June and was even shown on Eurosport on pay TV in Australia which is fairly unprecedented. I believe it is organised by their same group as the men’s tour but they have made a deliberate decision to separate the tour events with the men’s race running in September each year.

Unlike the Giro Rosa which always coincides with world’s most popular bike race, Le Tour de France, the Brits have made sure its big women’s race can stand alone and get the attention it deserves. It has its own website, not just a couple of pages on the men’s site and it seems to be growing in popularity every year. So make sure you keep an eye out for coverage of this great race in June next year.

In the meantime you should still follow the Giro Rosa 2018 on social media or via some of the cycling news sites like Cycling News. This year’s race begins on Friday, 6 July with a flat 15.5 km team time trial in the town of Verbania. The race route will wind across northern Italy, with a mountain time trial on stage 7 to the Campo Moro dam and final circuit stage in Cividale del Friuli on Sunday, 15 July.

The race officially known as the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, will cover a total of 964 km during the 10 days of racing. On Stage 9 the riders will tackle the infamous Monte Zoncolan with the riders climbing via Ovaro, with gradients of up to 22 per cent.

I read that this year’s Giro Rosa will have highlights on television in Italy to be broadcast after the Tour de France coverage and there’ll be live streaming. Although I couldn’t find any links to this on the Internet, so I’d believe it when I see it.

Another race that I’m disappointed with in 2018 is the high profile La Course by Le Tour de France. This year is the fifth edition of the race and it will be just one stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, 17 July when the women will ride 118 km on the same course as the men’s Tour de France from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand.

Since the Tour de France organisers started the race in 2014 there have been vague promises about increasing the number of stages. The first three editions were a fast-paced crit race on the iconic Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris. While the race was short, the ambience, the TV coverage, the crowds, and the fact that it was held on the same day as the men’s Tour de France finale made it one of the most talked about events on the calendar.

But in 2017 it was moved to one mountain stage, followed by a pursuit style time trial in Marseille ahead of the men’s stage. The whole event fell rather flat for most cycling fans. The mountain stage was fairly entertaining, but only the top 19 riders (out of 119 starters) qualified to race in Marseille. So they took 19 women who were great climbers and got them to sprint around a flat circuit. Needless to say it was flop.

Despite the disappointment from me and many other cycling fans, riders and advocates I’ll still enjoy watching it on TV from the comfort of my couch on the other side of the world.

Do you enjoy women’s bike racing and the 2018 Giro Rosa? Share your experiences via comments or the Women Who Cycle Facebook page.