Eight women's teams apply for new UCI WorldTour licence

Applications came from eight squads, with notable absence from the UCI WorldTour leaders Boels-Dolmans

BUILTH WELLS, WALES - JUNE 14: Start / Coryn Rivera of The United States and Team Sunweb Red Eisberg sprints jersey / Liane Lippert of Germany and Team Sunweb OVO Energy Green leader jersey / Lizzie Elizabeth Armitstead-Deignan of United Kingdom and Team Trek - Segafredo Blue HSBC UK British Cycling best British rider jersey / Christine Majerus of Luxembourg and Team Boels Dolmans Black SKODA Queen of the Mountains jersey / Jolien D'Hoore of Belgium and Team Boels Dolmans Pink Breast Cancer Care points jersey / Chantal Blaak of The Netherlands and Team Boels Dolmans / Peloton / Landscape / during the 6th OVO Energy Women's Tour 2019, Stage 5 a 140km stage from Llandrindod Wells to Builth Wells / #OVOWT / #UCIWWT / on June 14, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

The UCI has listed the eight women's teams which have applied for the first UCI Women's WorldTour licences.

Teams receiving the new status will be required to pay riders a minimum wage and to field a squad for all UCI WorldTour ranked races.

Five of the top 10 ranked women's teams have not applied, including Boels-Dolmans, who currently lead the women's WorldTour rankings.

>>> UCI reveal more details of minimum wages and other changes to women’s racing

The Dutch team has sponsorship from plant hire company Boels and landscaping company Dolmans secured until the end of 2020, when the new format will be introduced.

The once dominant team has not possessed the same power over the peloton as in previous years through 2019, with Anna van der Breggen losing out to Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) at the Giro Rosa, and sprinter Jolien D'Hoore sidelined by first a broken collarbone, then a fractured elbow.

However, consistent high positioning and stage wins still sees them top the leaderboard.

Teams who have put their names forward include Alé Cipollini, Canyon-SRAM, CCC-Liv, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futurescope, Mitchelton Scott, Movistar Women, Sunweb and Trek Segafredo.

Aside from Boels-Dolmans, those absent but ranked within the top 10 based on UCI points this year are Parkhotel Valkenburg, Team Virtu, WNT Rotor, and Bigla.

Alé Cipollini currently sit in 13th place, with FDJ 18th.

The new license will see the women's peloton split into two groups: UCI Women’s WorldTeams and UCI Women’s Continental Teams, taking the structure a step closer to the men's set up with WorldTour, Pro Continental and Continental teams.

To gain acceptance, teams must fulfil a range of requirements, "on the basis of sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria," according to the UCI - with organisational criteria coming in for 2021.

The restructure also sees races split into UCI WorldTour and UCI ProSeries ranking. Teams who receive the licence will need to commit to fielding 6-7 riders to attend up to 23 WorldTour races.

Commenting on the decision to apply for a license, Canyon-SRAM team manager Ronny Lauke told Cycling Weekly: "It has been our aim, from the day we started this team, to give women the best platform to be the best professional rider possible.. so each rider can focus on the sport and reach her full potential as an athlete.

"I believe it's instrumental to be part of the Women's WorldTour, this presented some obstacles, but those standards are important to install certain qualities amongst teams."

He added: "The biggest difference is the registration process in itself. From the requirements towards riders and staff, we have complied with it already. It will be an interesting journey to see the impact the installation of the WWT has on the sport."

Six of the eight teams putting themselves forward for the higher classification also field a men's squad - where a minimum wage is already in place and was increased in 2018.

Lauke said: "Teams where they have a men's and women's squad have some advantages, using the combined infrastructure, it's a nice challenge to take on."

According to Cycling Weekly sources, some teams think the UCI is placing the financial burden for the development of women's pro cycling solely on the teams and race organisers, by handing down diktats from Aigle.

A maximum of eight teams will be awarded the WorldTour licence in 2020, with this increasing to 15 in 2021.

Now that the teams have applied, the UCI will assess them for suitability, before awarding licences. Cycling Weekly understands that the focus will be on the grounds of sustainability not necessarily sporting success.

Selected teams will be officially announced in December this year.

Commenting on the teams who have put themselves forwards, the UCI it was "pleased with the number of applications received, which is a sign of the vitality and professionalism of women’s cycling."

Cycling Weekly has contacted Boels-Dolmans about why they've not applied - and will provide updates when we have them.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.