Alpecin-Fenix are applying for WorldTour status for 2023, with the Belgian team also confirming they will change their name to Alpecin-Deceuninck from July 1, 2022.
Speaking at the team's Giro d'Italia rest day press conference, team manager Philip Roodhooft revealed plans to make the step up to the WorldTour, having competed as a UCI ProTeam since 2019. They have managed to secure automatic invitations to WorldTour races by being the top-ranked ProTeam, but Roodhooft suggested now is the perfect time for the team to further develop.
"The WorldTour is the next logical step for the team," Roodhooft said. "We see it as a consequence of the growth we have had.
“It is also not easy to win the UCI ProTeam ranking every year. We are now the best twice in a row, but this also creates a certain pressure. We're not afraid of pressure but this gives us a chance to work on the longer term.
"Two years ago there was already an opportunity to take over a WorldTour license after CCC stopped, but we weren't ready then. We wanted to grow in an organic way. However, we are now seventh in the UCI Team ranking, based on the last two seasons. We feel the time is right.”
Mathieu van der Poel, Alpecin-Fenix's star rider, feels the team's status can only benefit the riders they bring in for the long-term, and welcomes the WorldTour application.
"It's quite important for sure," Van der Poel said during the press conference. "In my opinion we are already at the level of the WorldTour, but it's easier just to be in it.
"For some riders it's also a smaller step to come from WorldTour teams to ours and I think that can be a benefit as well.
"I've never really had a problem with being ProTour, but I think we've shown as a team already we have our place in the WorldTour and now it's official. It's good to be part of it, of course."
Part of the process of applying to become a WorldTour team involves Deceuninck taking over from Fenix as joint-title sponsor of the team. The team will race under the new name for the first time at the Tour de France.
Deceuninck previously sponsored Quick-Step from 2019 to 2021, before joining Alpecin at the beginning of this year as a sub-sponsor to the team. Roodhooft suggests welcoming Deceuninck as a title sponsor will help the team develop financially.
"It will increase our budget to make us become a better team than we are today," he said. "Moving to the major league of cycling is a big step for us as a team, but also for Deceuninck."
The deal with Deceuninck will last until the end of 2025.
An Alpecin-Fenix statement also read: “Our horizon now extends to 2025 and we are ready to take the next steps. The budget will increase towards next year, which is necessary to remain competitive on the one hand and to improve further on the other.
"We want – and need – to professionalise even more and need to expand the basis of our success. We are now ninth in the three-year team ranking and we will also accept the associated World Tour license.”
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