Owner and manager of Wiggle-High5, Rochelle Gilmore has confirmed the British registered outfit will cease to exist after this season.
In a video released (opens in new tab) on her personal and team social media feeds, Australian Gilmore announced she needed a break from running the team, which has consumed her life since its 2013 inception. They will, however, compete until the end of the year.
The announcement comes just weeks after Cycling Weekly revealed the team had been suffering with various problems this year. Their season has been blighted with staff departures, discontent among riders, some equipment issues and problems with vehicles which left riders changing in cars or public toilets at races.
Talking to CW last month Gilmore admitted she had no riders or sponsors signed for 2019, but fell short of confirming the announcement she has now made.
After a successful career on other teams, Gilmore was one of the riders when she established the squad in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, but retired from competition in 2014 to concentrate on team management.
Throughout its existence, first as Wiggle-Honda, then as Wiggle-High5 the team has contributed to moving the women’s side of the sport on, increasing levels of professionalism and raising pay for riders, with some claiming they are the best paid in the sport.
Some of Britain's best cyclists have been part of the team, with Laura Kenny, Jo Rowsell-Shand, Dani Rowe part of the original roster, and Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, double junior world champion Lucy Garner and her sister Grace currently on the squad.
While they had to wait until their third season to win at the top level, with Jolien D’hoore winning the 2015 Ronde van Drenthe World Cup race, the team has consistently been one of the best in the women’s peloton.
In their six years they won 143 races, a tally they may add to at Saturday’s Prudential RideLondon Classique, where an on form Kirsten Wild has a good chance of success in what will doubtless be a sprint finish.
However, the team only briefly topped the world rankings and have occasionally struggled to win the biggest races despite their stellar roster. This year they have netted only two Women’s WorldTour victories, Wild bagging both sprint finishes in stage races.
The closure of Wiggle High5 is in part mitigated by the arrival of the recently announced Trek Factory Racing team. However, Hitec Products-Birk Sport who launched a crowd funding scheme earlier this year, are one of a number of teams whose future is in doubt for 2019.
Despite closing the team, Gilmore will remain involved in the sport with her long standing role on the UCI’s Women’s Commission, with which she intends to continue for the next four years. That role saw her as one of the driving forces behind the governing body’s flagship race series, the Women’s WorldTour.
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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