Cooke's new team gives women's peloton a boost

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The International Cycling Union (UCI) recently announced that the number of women's professional teams registered in 2011 will be 28, up one from last year.

This year's registration procedure required teams to provide a bank guarantee, a new addition to the requirements, intended to increase the teams' levels of professionalism.

Six new teams registered this year, as five came to an end. The new teams include Canadian team Juvederm-Specialized, ASPTT Dijon - Bourgogne (France), Abus Nutrixxion (Germany), two Italian teams - the Kleo Ladies Team and MCipollini-Giordana - and the Dutch team Dolmans Landscaping.

Overall, teams have registered from 13 countries in three continents - Europe, America and Asia.  

The biggest new name on the list is that of MCipollini-Giordana. The team includes 2007, 2008 and 2009 World champions, Marta Bastianelli, Nicole Cooke and Tatiana Guderzo, its equipment provided by the company of the legendary sprinter Mario Cipollini, who has just launched a new range of bikes.

Nicole Cooke, Britain's gold medalist from the Beijing Olympics, moves from a low-key 2010 season with Team GB to being surrounded by some of the world's top women riders. Cooke was forced to cycle with Team GB last season after Team Nurnberger collapsed at the beginning of the year.

Emma Pooley was picked as Cycling Weeky's Top British Rider of 2010. She will be hoping to emulate her success of last year once more. As reigning World Time Trial Champion, winner of the Flèche Wallonne and the Tour de l'Aude, and national time trial and road race champion, this may be a hard ask.

However, she will be helped by a Garmin Cervelo line-up that looks like the strongest in the peloton. The team includes prolific Dutch sprinter Kirsten Wild as well as British riders Lizzie Armitstead, Lucy Martin and Sharon Laws.

Emma Trott is the sixth British rider in the women's pro peloton. She will be riding for the Nederland Bloeit team along with multiple world champion Marianne Vos.  

The women's calendar has an unfamiliar look this season as a number of major races have struggled financially and been lost. Most notable is the fact that the Tour de l'Aude has not secured enough funding to continue, leaving only the Giro Donne in terms of women's grand tour races. One day races Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and the GP Comune di Cornaredo have also gone from the calendar.

The women's season kicks off at the Tour of Qatar on February second.

2011 Women's teams

Kuota Speed Kueens (Aut)

Lotto Honda Team (Bel)

Topsport Vlaanderen 2012 - Ridley Team (Bel)

Juvederm - Specialized (Can)

Bizkaia-Durango (Spa)

Debabarrena - Gipuzkoa (Spa)

Lointek (Spa)

ASPTT Dijon - Bourgogne (Fra)

Team GSD Gestion (Fra)

Vienne Futuroscope (Fra)

Garmin - Cervelo (GBr)

Abus Nutrixxion (Ger)

China Chongming - Giant Pro Cycling (HKg)

Forno d'Asolo Colavita (Ita)

Gauss (Ita)

Kleo Ladies Team (Ita)

S.C. Michela Fanini Rox (Ita)

SC Mcipollini Giordana (Ita)

Top Girls Fassa Bortolo (Ita)

Vaiano Solaristech (Ita)

AA Drink - Cycling Team (Ned)

Dolmans Landscaping Team (Ned)

Nederland Bloeit (Ned)

Hitec Products - UCK (Nor)

Alriksson Go:Green (Swe)

Diadora - Pasta Zara (USA)

HTC Highroad Women (USA)

Tibco - To The Top (USA)

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