Sofia Bertizzolo was all set to capitalise on her 2019 season next year, as she was on her way to Movistar after a string of hugely promising results.
But things took a sudden turn when Movistar announced that the 22-year-old was not legally allowed to ride for the Spanish team because of a quirk in employment laws.
Bertizzolo has a contract to ride for the Italian national police team, but because of a clash between labour laws in Italy and Spain she was blocked from joining Movistar.
She has now had another shift in fortune while facing an uncertain future, as CCC-Liv have signed Bertizzolo at the 11th hour.
CCC-Liv general manager Eric van den Boom said: “We have had Sofia on our radar for a long time and are happy that we managed to reach an agreement at the last minute.
“Already in 2018, by winning the youth ranking in the Women’s WorldTour, she has shown that she is a rising talent.
“With Sofia we get a versatile rider and we can be even more dominant in 2020.”
CCC-Liv made the surprise announcement on Monday (December 16) during their training camp in Denia, Spain.
Bertizzolo had a contract to ride for the Italian national police team while racing for Team Virtu Cycling in 2019 because of an unusual system in European women’s racing which means many riders work as civil servants to support their cycling careers.
In some European nations, including Spain and Italy, national cycling federations work with governments to give women racers professional civil service jobs in order to support their racing careers.
The introduction of UCI Women’s WorldTeams next year will mean that female riders can be officially recognised as professional athletes outside of their contracts as civil servants.
However, employment law in certain nations make it difficult for a rider to be defined as a professional athlete under the new UCI regulations – under Italian law a rider cannot be recognised as an employed professional athlete outside of their role with the civil service.
In Bertizzolo’s case, this Italian law means she would have to class herself as self-employed in order to rider for Movistar as a professional athlete while also keeping her status as a member of the Italian armed forces. But this clashes with laws in Spain, where Movistar is based, as an athlete cannot be classed as self employed.
In this case, the clash between Spanish and Italian employment laws mean Bertizzolo cannot ride for Movistar.
Bertizzolo raced for Astana Women’s Team from 2016 until 2019, when she joined Danish outfit Virtu in January.
This season, she placed fourth in the Tour of Flanders and took a top-10 in the Italian national championships, won by Marta Bastianelli.
Bertizzolo said: “I am extremely happy with this transfer and also grateful to CCC-Liv as the team has always shown an interest in me.
“This team is a good choice for me, because I can take the next step in my career with them. The team is very experienced and has built a solid organisation with people who have been involved with the team for a long time, also having generated many champions over the years. I am happy to work with top riders like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Marianne Vos and to be able to learn from them. In any case, I hope to have a strong season in the spring and I am convinced that the team can help me to tactically race in a smart manner.”
In August, Movistar, which will become a Women’s WorldTour team next season, announced they had signed Bertizzolo on a two-year contract, with women’s team manager Sebatián Unzue describing her as “one of the biggest up-and-coming talents in the sport.”
But on November 25, Movistar announced that Bertizzolo would not be joining the team because of the legal issues.