The CIC-Tour Feminin International des Pyrénées 2023 has been called off after two stages over safety concerns.
Friday's opening stage was marred by a spate of dangerous incidents, including oncoming traffic on the race route and parked cars blocking roads elsewhere.
On Saturday, the peloton staged a protest, with repeat neutralisations that effectively reduced stage 2 to a hill climb up Hautacam, where Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Suez) took victory and the leader's jersey.
However, the final stage of the race will not take place. After multiple teams pulled out and decided not to start, the UCI took the measure of pulling the plug on the whole thing.
"To maintain the safety of the riders, the UCI has taken the decision to stop the Tour des Pyrénées," read a statement from the governing body.
"After consulting with key stakeholders of the event, including the CPA, teams, commissaires, and the organising committee, today’s stage will not go ahead."
Adam Hansen, president of the CPA, which is the union for pro riders, held talks with riders, teams, and the race organisers after the opening stage, with assurances supposedly given that conditions would be improved for stage 2. However, as the riders protested on Saturday, there was still cause for concern.
"The situation on day two was significantly better than during the first stage, but safety is a condition within [the team] to be able to practice the sport in a responsible way," said Jumbo-Visma.
"The riders do not consider it responsible to ride the third stage."
According to a letter published by Hansen to the race organisers on Sunday morning, 17 teams expressed their desire to discontinue the race, while seven were in favour of racing the final stage.
As teams announced their decision to step out, it opened a debate over UCI points, with some teams reportedly reluctant to withdraw if valuable points were still to be dished out to their rivals for racing licences in future seasons.
"Considering the safety risks involved, we firmly believe that a bike race is not worth endangering the lives of the female cyclists," read the letter from Hansen.
"Therefore, we stand in support of the decision made by the women to discontinue the race, and we believe the race results should remain as they are, including UCI points, ensuring that the women are duly recognized and rewarded for their efforts."
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.