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2021 Pro Cycling Calendar

With the 2020 season just finished, here’s the pro cycling calendar for 2021, free to download for your diary or phone. It’s packed with racing and obviously conditional on the outlook for public health next year, already the Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour have been cancelled but there are a few additions and omissions so here’s a closer look…

All of the major UCI men’s and women’s pro races around the world are included. Some races might move dates and sadly others might vanish too. You can browse the calendar above and if you want the ical file it’s here:

https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/s8kn0lrqtiu2fvpiodlml1de6k%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics

If you want tech support on how to incorporate this iCal into your diary or phone, or an explainer on the UCI labels like 1.UWT or 2.Pro, see the permanent calendar page at inrng.com/calendar.

What stands out is just how dense the calendar is again. 2020 saw many races saved thanks to postponement but they tended to be the big events. Plenty of smaller races from March onwards were abandoned for the year and when the season resumed in August many due to take place in their habitual slot didn’t because of local issues, travel problems for the peloton or the problem of being in competition with a grand tour and a monument classic squeezed them out. Now publishing a calendar is no guarantee of a full season next year. Similarly filing with the local federation and the UCI months out is the easy bit for an organiser and putting a race on and meeting the bills is going to be harder. But it’s encouraging to see so many familiar names back.

What’s new? Not much but among the additions there’s a women’s Tour de Suisse, just two days long, but so new it might be a discovery on the calendar that’s yet to be announced, it’ll be a 2.1W-status race. There’s a Greek Monuments Tour, a 2.1 in May.

What’s gone? The Tour Down Under and Herald Sun Tour already and obviously the continuing pandemic is going to cause concerns for many other events. The Tour of Saudi Arabia, the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Yorkshire have yet to be confirmed for the year so they’re not on there. The Hammer Series events don’t feature either, nor does the early season Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tricky Hawes Monday, 9 November 2020, 8:59 pm

    15 weeks until the next World Tour race!

  • Lukyluk Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 2:58 am

    It’s a bit sad not to see the Tour of Oman restart, it was one of the far-away ones that I liked to watch, it’s far more interesting from a sporting standpoint than most of the recent Middle-Eastern additions, and the landscapes are breathtaking (especially the climb on Jebel Akhdar).

    I understand the environmental concerns and costs associated with traveling, but I still hope the UCI will keep pushing for races outside of mainland Europe when things reopen.
    Just do it for the right reasons – using the race to discover amazing landscapes from far-away places is much more meaningful than pleasing an autocrat who happens to be a cycling fan (okay, the Tour of Oman is a bad example).

    Take a National Geographic cover photo and add a cyclist in it. Now, doesn’t it look better?

    /goes back to staring at the Omloop clock.

    • Michael B Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 8:58 am

      Oman was the best of the Middle East races, although I’d rather the UCI focused on developing races in countries with a true cycling culture – Columbia, Australia and Japan – rather than accepting money from Middle East autocracies.

      • hoh Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 10:06 am

        In other words, first world and western allies. The cycling world is getting smaller and smaller.

        • Michael B Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 2:54 pm

          Well, I’d also like the UCI reach into African countries, North America, South America, Australasia, South East Asia, and many other countries with a cycling culture and interest in the sport. Great. But I’ll take a pass on the Middle East where there is close to zero public interest in the sport, the routes are really dull (Oman excluded), and autocratic Governments are simply using it to sportswash their reputation. A hard pass from me.

        • RQS Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 4:51 pm

          How would you expand cycling? It’s usually a case of supply and demand. You can market a race, but you need to have a willing/profitable audience to engage with. So much of racing is down to revenues from TV coverage. So if your race is happening while a large part of the world sleeps your product is perhaps cheapened somewhat if it has to be shown on replays and highlights.
          Really, for cycling to grow I think the issue comes down the national organisations finding ways of growing a base that has an appetite for cycling and then you’ll draw in other investors willing to make a more global appeal.

          • RQS Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 9:11 am

            Actually, a smart way to go would be to grow cycling on a regional basis, with National organisations in similar time zones being the way ahead so you can foster competition between those countries.

          • Sly Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 5:27 pm

            Similar issue in international rugby. All well and good to say respect the pacific islands (I think they should) but it’s a lot of work for less than 20,000 home supporters in a weaker currency.

            I do wonder whether COVID might actually be a boom for cycling. A lot of tourist boards will need to spend money convincing people to come back and it’s cheaper to put on a bike race than it is another sport like F1. Would love to see a Tour of Thailand, Tour of Vietnam (please please please) and a Tour of Argentina. The Alps are great and all but there’s a lot more out there.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 9:31 am

      The Tour of Oman was always the one in the region to have been on TV thanks to the geography, landscapes and more but probably because it’s a smaller country and not awash with cash to throw at projects it’s been more fragile than the other races in the region.

      On a small point the UCI can have a calendar but it’s not a strategy: the governing body can’t make races happen in places it wants. If you live in a country which is part of the Olympics then you can organise an bike race and apply to the UCI to go on it’s international calendar, it works from the ground up rather than by a directive from the top down in UCI HQ. As implied the sport is missing or under-represented from many countries, Germany to start with as Europe’s largest and wealthiest country but also the USA and many more.

      • Lukyluk Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 10:29 am

        You’re right, it’s definitely a fair point that the UCI is only one of the many actors required to make it happen, but I don’t think it’s powerless either, for instance you’d think that the GP Frankfurt & Cyclassics Hamburg maybe wouldn’t both be on the WorldTour calendar if it wasn’t for the fact that we have very few races in Germany. Also, I’m not sure how many teams would bother traveling to the UAE if they didn’t have to field a team or face fines (and bad headlines).

        From what I understand, the Tour of Oman really was just a pet project from the now-defunct Sultan, and with him gone, there’s no real political incentive to keep it going? Who knows, cycling demographics are changing, and our approach to tourism is in a bit of a.. rethink right now.

        I believe there were rumors that the World Championships would happen in Africa in 2024-25? Hopefully they manage to pick a good spot, and get good TV coverage.

        Barely relate note – I’d love to see a UCI-run, 6-day national teams tour, on the format of top junior/U23 races like the Tour de l’Avenir or the Baby Giro. If they could set something like this together and rotate the parcours every year like they do for the Worlds, that could help a bit. Not sure that it would be a profitable venture though…

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 10:38 am

          The teams have enjoyed the UAE race because it’s a good training race, they get a 5 star hotel and a generous participation allowance with teams banking appearance fees for fielding star riders. I haven’t looked at the numbers for a while but the old Abu Dhabi Tour, a four day race, generated far more income for RCS than ASO got for a Tour de France grand départ. It probably keeps Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Torino and other races afloat.

          The Worlds is down to Rwanda (Kigali) and Morocco (Tangier) for 2025.

          • Lukyluk Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 11:58 am

            I didn’t realize that those races were such a huge revenue-raiser.
            Thanks for the details, it’s quite enlightening!

          • Richard S Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 1:39 pm

            Sportswashing I believe is the word. Natural resource rich country with ropey reputation pays organising body large sum to have an even in their country. They then give potential participants large sums of money to get them to turn up. All with the hope that it will make them look normal. Cycling is far from the worst when it comes to this kind of thing. There are more F1 races in places like that than there are traditional ones now. And future World Cups and Olympics will be predominantly in such places. I wouldn’t be surprised if Qatar even bid for and got the winter Olympics and worried about the lack of snow later. If it keeps the real races going then its fair enough but I suspect that is just an excuse. It was certainly notable when they held that first Abu Dhabi Tour how many riders tweeted about how great it was. Any sensible expansion of the World Tour (now a lot of its dead wood has been lost) would include the Colombia Tour at the start of the year.

          • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 6:41 pm

            It’s more complicated, we could have a World Tour race in Colombia but at the price of excluding local teams so the current 2.1 model with some big teams and others works well too, it helps local teams. There’s some flexibility in the system but sometimes the label doesn’t matter, eg the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is now a World Tour race but when it wasn’t it was arguably more important than some other one day races on the World Tour, there’s a lot of cultural baggage and tradition in the sport.

          • Richard S Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 9:43 am

            That gets on to the bigger question of what is the world tour and does a race need to be in it. With the loss of races through COVID and travel restrictions the WT has gone back to more or less just being the bigger races in Europe. Colombia is probably the most passionate cycling country outside Europe so that’s why I meant it made sense. There was already flexibility in terms of some teams not having to do certain races, like Turkey I believe. With more World Tour teams dropping away and being replaced with ones with potentially smaller budgets, or not replaced at all, maybe there will have to be further relaxation. Like, do the 3rd best teams in Belgium and France (Wanty/Cofidis) really need to do a race in Colombia and would there place not be better taken by local teams. It would hugely over complicate things but maybe you could have a WT label for the Grand Tours, the monuments and the bigger one week races and a WT.1 or something level for the likes of DD Vlaanderen, E3, Plouay and any new races that pop up so that some teams can skip them and more relevant local teams take part. I’m waffling now though.

          • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 5:14 am

            I think it’s safe to assume that there’s going to be a lot less public money and assistance towards supporting existing cycling races in Europe that have been severely affected by COVID-19 never mind new races springing up around the globe?

      • Michael B Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 3:00 pm

        The Sultan of Oman died earlier in the year, so this might have an impact on the race? As an aside Oman had a very, erm, unique approach to leadership and government…

        The Guardian: “Qaboos had no children and, following protocol, had not publicly appointed a successor. A 1996 statute says the ruling family must choose a successor or the name would come from a sealed envelope left by the sultan and to be opened if the royal family could not decide. The family hurriedly convened a council over Friday night to discuss the matter, reports said, and decided to go with Qaboos’s “wise guidance”.”

        i.e. the dead dictator left a post-humous note telling everyone who their new leader was.

  • Somers Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 5:12 am

    Why is the calendar so dense for next year? (Race of the falling leaves in April???) Is it because of the (very small) chance that the Olympics might be going ahead?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 9:33 am

      It’s just back to normal, April and May are the busiest months for the pro calendar and we missed them this year. It looked busy when the Vuelta and Giro overlapped but look at a weekend in May and you can have seven races on the same day.

  • Richard S Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 10:01 am

    I hope it all goes off as planned. I’m pleased we got everything done that we could this year but some things, like having the Italian one day races in high summer and a thinned out cobbled classics menu, were a bit weird. If I could pre order a cold and windy Omloop, a damp Strade Bianche, a pleasantly sunny Milano-Sanremo and a muddy Paris-Roubaix then I would do right now!

  • Wipperman_15 Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 12:25 pm

    Might need to change the title to ‘Road’ pro cycling calendar. Otherwise, one may wonder where the CX, MTB races are.

  • plurien Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 11:26 am

    Good point on this being the road race calendar.
    Couple of observations;- The UCI has yet to deal with the matter of how it embraces races outside Flanders Classics, ASO and RCS. These are its top level race owners which it needs, more than the owners need UCI. Below this level the races are all contingent on current funding, with an insecure existence so the UCI has no place telling them what to do. In the end, the UCI puts on only the World Champs and simply provides refereeing services to all the rest. It can’t insist on say, women’s racing of equal status, let alone an ethical slant in which political systems get to have races.
    The real trend in racing is towards Adventure and Gravel, where UCI has no place nor any real means of getting one. This growth could even be as a direct result of UCI… Neither it nor any national level governing body has even been able to define and manage Enduro properly, yet these events continue to grow. Cyclocross, BMX, MTB, DH and lots of other disciplines would not miss UCI.
    Road racing is maybe where the money is for now in terms of ‘presented-for-TV events’ but cycling is pretty well unique among sports in allowing space for completely different forms which can be just as good. Maybe it’s time the UCI let go of a few things and stuck to the core of track and road so it can really concentrate on gender parity at the Olympics, with a calendar of races to bring this about. Let other bodies make the case for DH, ‘cross, enduro, gravel, adventure and so on.