From Jon Miles


Stage races have always been an important part of the top women's racing scene but recently it would seem that some of the major tours might not be taking place after all.
Traditionally the start of the season has been the Tour de Snowy in Australia but that has now been cancelled; next to feel the heat is the Women's Challenge in USA, a race that has been going since 1984 with lately Hewlett Packard being the sponsors but it now seems that last year was the last time that HP would sponsor the event and it has been cancelled.
Although there has always been doubt about the Vuelta Femenina being actually organised for the first time, it has recently been announced that this was also going to be cancelled. The Tour of Holland has already announced that it cannot find the money to sustain its UCI place and although it wills till be run, it will be a smaller edition with perhaps the top riders staying away.
Perhaps the biggest shock has been rumours that La Grande Boucle in France cannot find the necessary sponsorship money and it may also be cancelled; if this is so then it really leaves just the Giro D'Italia as the only remaining top class women's stage race.