Wiggle High5 announced Monday signing road development rider Italian Rachele Barbieri for the 2018 season. At 20 years old, Barbieri is the reigning scratch race world champion, and will continue her development as a top sprinter on the women's UCI road circuit next season. She joins the team after spending two seasons with the American outfit Cylance.
"I'm really, really excited for the season that is coming!" Barbieri said. "I am really proud that I will be part of a big team, one of most important women's cycling teams in the world. I'm sure that it will be a big opportunity for me to learn a lot of new things from these champions - World, Olympic and more!"
Barbieri won her world title at her first-ever World Championships in the senior level in Japan in April. In November, she made a winning appearance in her rainbow jersey at the World Cup in Manchester where she, again, took the gold medal in the Scratch Race.
Although she is a strong sprinter, Wiggle High5 will aim to develop her road skills in a lead-out role during her first year on the team.
"Wiggle High5 is always looking for young athletes with potential to develop, so we're delighted to have signed the young track world champion," said team owner Rochelle Gilmore. "Rachele has been dominating scratch races on the track for a while now which normally means that with a season or two on the road, with a balanced race program, she has the potential to win road race at the highest level in the future."
Relatively new to road racing, she placed fourth in the European Road Race Championships and second in a stage of the Santos Women's Tour, behind new teammate and women's cycling's dominant sprinter Kirsten Wild, who she will surely learn from during the 2018 season on the road.
Barbieri will meet her new teammates in Australia in January ahead of the series of women's events at the Santos Women's Tour, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and Women's Herald Sun Tour.
"It's always exciting to work with young motivated athletes hungry for success," Gilmore said. "The challenge can often be to keep them calm and relaxed.
"Our ambition at Wiggle High5 will be to offer Rachele a balanced race program in 2018 with specific targets and objectives in a domestique/lead-out role. We will be consciously aiming to develop Rachele's road endurance during her first year with the team and, hoping she will benefit long-term from working in a team with so many experienced athletes."
Wiggle High5 has been announcing its 2018 roster one-by-one and has recently announced new signings Eri Yonamine, Macey Stewart along with Kirsten Wild, Lisa Brennauer, Katie Archibald, Martin Ritter. Annette Edmondson and Amy Cure have also extended their contracts into next season.