Team Virtu Cycling women’s squad is the latest casualty in a harsh environment as the outfit will fold at the end of the season.
Owner of the team Bjarne Rijs, a former Tour de France winner, has confirmed that the Danish team will cease racing at the end of the season due to a lack of sponsorship.
The women’s squad is part of the Virtu Cycling Group which also owns the Continental tier Team Waoo, a men’s outfit that bosses will continue to run until 2020 with the ambition to move up to the Professional Continental ranks.
Riis, who won the Tour in 1996, told Danish broadcaster TV 2 Sport (opens in new tab): “I am incredibly sorry to report this – I was hoping it was a project we could continue to drive, but we simply lack sponsors. That’s why we have decided to make the decision.
“We have financed ourselves over the past three years and for business reasons we do not think we should keep it going.”
Team Virtu Cycling’s biggest star is Italy’s Marta Bastianelli, the reigning European champion, winner of the 2019 Tour of Flanders and a former world champion.
The squad would be the latest victim of a tough period for teams, following the announcement that stalwart British continental team Madison-Genesis would shut up shop at the end of the year.
Founder of the team and CEO of distribution company Madison, Dominic Langan, said he has frustrations with aspects of the UK scene and that the sponsor is looking to invest in other areas of the cycling world.
Racing in the UK has suffered a number of team closures in the last year, as the Virtu Cycling announcement suggests the problem reaches beyond Britain.
The future has also become uncertain for trade track teams, after the UCI announced they would be barred from racing World Cup events in future.
A number of teams have protested to the international governing body after it announced major changes to the track calendar.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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