The Dutch women’s team AA is set to discontinue at the end of the season, reports Dutch website

The move would leave British riders Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley, Sharon Laws and Lucy Martin without a squad for 2013. 

Armitstead, Pooley and Martin represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games, where Armitstead recently won a much lauded silver medal in the road race, while Laws is current British national road race champion. 

Team manager Michael Zijlaard is reported to have told riders and staff earlier this week that their contracts would not be renewed after he and his wife, Leontien Van Moorsel, who both run the team, were unable to secure sponsorship for 2013. 

Sports drink manufacturer AA Drink opted not to continue funding the team, which is also home to Kirsten Wild, and Zijlaard and Van Moorsel were unwilling to search for a replacement.

The British riders thus look likely to find themselves looking for a team once again, a situation strikingly similar to last year when the Garmin-Cervelo women’s team, on which they all rode, was ended. 

The events will no doubt lead to further calls for a women’s Team Sky, an issue last covered at the end of 2011 when women’s academy coach Simon Cope left British Cycling.

Related links
Armitstead wins silver in women’s Olympic road race, Vos strikes gold
Sharon Laws wins national road race title
Pooley: where is our Team Sky?
Pooley, Armitstead and friends join AA Drink
Garmin-Cervelo women’s team on the rocks



  • Tim

    Virgin were keen to sponsor a team a few weeks ago, perhaps this could be an opportunity for the women.

    All women need is sponsorship and for the UCI to give them parity. None of this World Cup business, they need a Pro Tour series and parity means parity – same numbers on teams, not three for a team pursuit for example.

    Women’s cycling needs the support and assistance that the men receive – cycling is not gender specific. Men’s cycling has had dreadful coverage and sponsorship in this country for decades and decades. Only now has cycling in general got the lift the exposure and general acceptance it’s been working so hard to achieve.

    The women showed the men how to win a medal at the Olympics and there were thousands and thousands watching the race in the pouring rain.

    Women are here to race, they want to race, they should race and they need to be supported. There is absolutely no case or place for sidelining women’s racing, for men offering sexist opinions on why women should not be included and for men giving negative and unfounded guidance via a cracked crystal ball. We need more women in the sport and not just as cyclists, but running teams, involved with teams, owing teams and all the way up to the UCI.

  • stuart stanton

    Wonder if there’s a vacancy on Nicole’s team? Cymru am Byth.

  • Frank Green

    cmon guys and dolls- how much exposure will a sponsor receive from a womens team in the uk? Zero. Get a grip, mainstream sports media is only interested in the olympic womens cycling team. Pretty girl giggling and sobbing on the podium thats what team sh**e want.

  • Sim

    Some of the comments over Twitter etc are from people already involved in women’s cycling who feel quite strongly that the answer isnt Sky funding a new womens team but more funding coming from other sponsors and sources to build out existing set-ups. Just a comment.

  • Ol Rappaport

    None of my (mostly female) collagues were enthusiastic about cycle sport prior to the Olympics. But about two thirds turned out for the road events (most work and live in the Richmond/Kingston area) But there greatest interest has been for the velodrome events. Aside for an unhealthy fascination with Max Levy’s thighs (and not in a good way) they have all shown an enthusiasm for most the track events with an equal enthusiams for male and female athletes. People like Laura Trott are such positive models for active women. So where is the resistance? Is it amongst potential sponsors, worried about the subtext of having their product associated with what they see as second-class athletes? Well wake up, your buying public doesn’t see it like that!

  • Sam

    If the Olympics has taught me anything, it is that Womens Cycling is no less exciting or nail biting than Mens. We have some fantastic talent on two wheels, so Sky definitely need to open their eyes too and bring as many greats as possible under one roof, so to speak.

  • Lucille

    It seems like Women’s road cycling has a way to come in the eyes of big business however it’s perception on the ground is definitely more positive and its popularity is growing. With a shorter Olympic Road Race and Time Trials though female cyclists must feel sidelined. If Sky can sponsor a women’s team I have no doubt it would do great things to keep momentum going and create a viable future.

  • JD

    Women’s cycling matched the men for excitement and coverage at the Olympics. It’s time someone put some resources behind it in the pro scene.

  • Terry

    C’mon SKY, lets have a female road team, there’s enough UK talent to form the basis of a cracking team.

  • stephen anthony cotterill

    I think if SKY are serious about womens cycling and it’s future well being then they should sponsor a womens team on the same ethos as the men’s team.

    The problem is though, how is womens cycling perceived in the the cycling community and is there a long term viable future?