Paris (AFP) - A revised calendar from the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Tuesday revealed the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana will overlap by six days, while there was also a brand new women's version of the sport's toughest one day race.
The 'Hell of the North' Paris-Roubaix has been fixed for October 25, with a first ever women's version of the gruelling, mud-splattered slog over cobbled mining roads.
The race is epic in its length with swathes of riders not making it to the finish line and is a key date for sports fans in France.
Two other top one-day races Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Flanders already had women's dates and were rescheduled for men and women October 4 and October 18.
"We have the desire to increase the number of events in women's racing and give them media coverage," the chief of the race organiser Christian Prudhomme told AFP.
"We continue to bear in mind what riders like Marianne Vos ask of us in terms of media exposure."
Cycling's most prestigious race the Tour de France was pushed back two months to August 29, with the world road championships at Aigle in Switzerland to start on September 20.
The UCI also announced new dates for the two other Grand Tours, with the Giro to start in Budapest on October 3 and finish in Rome on October 25 and the Vuelta to be run between October 20 and November 8.
- Mixed feelings -
Despite the overlap Spanish cycling authorities said they were delighted with a 'great opportunity', after they feared being pushed back even further in the year.
"We have to try to turn this necessity into a virtue," said Vuelta director Javier Guillen.
"We have a great position in the calendar and we hope to have an exceptional participation level."
The Giro organiser RCS appeared frustrated by the overlap.
"We made a number of alternative proposals, which in our opinion, would have resulted in reduced overlaps," an RCS statement said.
But they expressed gratitude for the huge logistical reorganisation that was able to run the Giro.
"It is the result of an unparallelled extensive work involving the institutions, organisations, teams and others who have contributed to this difficult choice."
The UCI World Tour restarts in Italy on August 1 with the Strade Bianche, followed a week later by the longest race on the circuit the Milan-San Remo.
The first major race in France will be a shortened five-day version of the Criterium de Dauphine starting on August 12.
It will embark from Clermont-Ferrand as scheduled and then goes straight to the four toughest stages.
Organisers ASO, who also run the Tour and Paris-Nice, said they would do everything to keep the racing safe.
"We'll adapt like we did at Paris-Nice," ASO chief Prudhomme said of the February event where crowds were limited at the start and finish lines.
"This year the Dauphine plays an even more important role than usual as preparation for the Tour."