The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) announced this week that it has added a women's chapter at the latest meeting of its Board of Directors.
Former Italian pro racer Alessandra Cappellotto, the 1997 road world champion, will lead the section, which will focus on improving business aspects for female racers.
"The women riders need support to see the respect of their essential rights in terms of insurance, security, employment contracts and retirement," Cappellotto said in a CPA press release. "There is so much to do and we believe that through the CPA it will be easier to achieve our goals and give the women's cycling a better future."
There has been talk of the CPA adding a women's section since ex-pro Iris Slappendel was invited to speak at the union's meeting in February.
"The CPA say they want to support a women's cycling union," Slappendel said to Cyclingnews earlier this year. "We are making a plan - women have so many different issues from the men. Legal assistance, good insurance, education about rights and resources. It's more important than minimum wage, I think. [Women] want a really professional team, not some crazy manager/director/mechanic/someone's boyfriend who runs everything."
CPA President Gianni Bugno supported the idea from the beginning, and urged all CPA members to provide women racers with the necessary support in their respective countries.
"I believe that our federative model is the best solution to meet the territorial needs and bring them to an institutional level through the CPA, the same way as for the male athletes," Bugno said. "We realised that even the male professional riders are looking for some better conditions for their female colleagues and we will do everything possible to make this happen."