The Vårgårda races have been part of the women’s cycling calendar for a long long time. There has been a Vårgårda race in the women’s World Cup since 2006 and the TTT has been raced at the highest level since 2008. The road race has seen big names like Marianne Vos, Iris Slappendel, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Jolien d’Hoore, Marta Bastianelli, Kirsten Wild and Audrey Cordon-Ragot all take the victory. Last year’s race had a slightly controversial ending with Marianne Vos disqualified whilst waiting to go on the final podium. She had briefly adopted the ‘puppy paws’ position, banned at the beginning of 2022.
The race is going to no longer be held due to the costs involved to host the race. The budget required had increased to around 4 million SEK, which works out at around £315k to host the races. Despite receiving support from the Vårgårda region, Sparbankstiftelsen and Sparbanken Alingsås, the Västgötaklubben that organises the races feels like it can’t continue to host the race without affecting the club’s future.
Other factors include demands from the UCI both organisationally and financially, plus from 2023 the Swedish Transport Association will apply new regulations about sports competitions using the road. That is another way that the costs will begin to increase to a prohibitive level.
“It is a very heavy decision to have to make. After a two-year hiatus and the loss of Hans Jönsson in 2019, we summed things up with a great event in 2022. But when we got to the end, the club, frankly speaking, had not a single penny to show for all the non-profit hours spent on the race. The economy is a big part of the decision, but also an increasing demand on us as an organisation.
In many ways, we have been involved in developing women’s cycling in the world. We fought for TV broadcasts and better conditions for the ladies ever since we started running the World Cup in Vårgårda in 2006. Women’s cycling is really on the right path, but we see no possibility of shouldering the increased demands that are being made on a non-profit organisation running competitions at the absolute highest level.
The bicycle festival has been a long-standing event for a quarter of a century and put Vårgårda and West Sweden on the world map. We are incredibly grateful and impressed by all these efforts and forces that have acted over the years.”Helen Henriksson, chairman of Vårgårda CK