Tour de Suisse Women Faces Uncertain Future Amid Financial Struggles


The future of the Tour de Suisse Women, a race only initiated in 2021, hangs in the balance due to financial difficulties and a lack of sponsorship. A crisis meeting in March, previously undisclosed, put the event’s future firmly on the agenda after consistently incurring losses since its inception. The 2024 race, scheduled to run from Villars-sur-Ollon to Champagne in the West of Switzerland from June 15 to 18, might still face cancellation this year if financial backing falls through or if security costs unexpectedly rise, according to Thomas Peter, CEO of Swiss Cycling.

Despite these challenges, Joko Vogel, co-director of Cycling Unlimited, the event’s organising body, affirmed, “This year, the Tour de Suisse Women will definitely take place.” However, the consensus among stakeholders reveals a complex situation, with varying degrees of commitment to ensuring the race goes ahead as planned.

Swiss Cycling, pivotal in launching the women’s edition by agreeing to cover any potential losses with public funding initially, finds itself in a particularly difficult position as this financial support has since ceased. “Swiss Cycling has invested more in the Tour de Suisse Women than other shareholders. We did this with great conviction to promote women’s cycling,” Peter stated, underscoring the potential disappointment of having to cancel or shorten the race.

Elise Chabbey and Lizzie Deignan sprint at the end of the first-ever Tour de Suisse stage in 2021
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The challenge of sustaining the women’s race contrasts sharply with the men’s Tour de Suisse, which can just about cover its high costs. Unlike other major events that receive funding from cantons or municipalities, the Tour de Suisse’s nomadic nature means organisers must fund road safety measures, further straining the budget. “Just waiving these costs would defuse the situation,” Peter remarked, although no such concessions are currently in sight.

The rise of women’s cycling on the international stage, marked by increasing team budgets and athlete earnings, offers a glimmer of hope for the Tour de Suisse Women. High-profile athletes like last year’s winner Marlen Reusser, who recently suffered a severe crash, play a crucial role in raising the event’s profile. Yet, as Vogel pointed out, the event desperately needs broader recognition and support to thrive. “It’s important to find a large company that wants to flag up its support for women’s cycling,” he noted, highlighting the general challenge of funding women’s sports events outside of established arenas like tennis or skiing.

Looking forward, the organisers might have to consider scaling down the race to ensure its survival, potentially losing its WorldTour status only a year after achieving it. This would be a significant setback for an event that represents a crucial step towards parity in cycling, reflecting the broader struggles and gradual progress of women’s professional sports in Switzerland.

Main photo credit: Thomas Maheux

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