Guarnier to defend Strade Bianche title with Armitstead

23 teams named for first UCI Women's WorldTour race

The organisers of Strade Bianche announced the 23 teams that will contest the 2016 race, that serves as the first UCI Women's WorldTour event. Defending champions Boels Dolmans will return to the white roads of Tuscany with world champion Lizzie Armitstead and defending Strade Bianche champion Megan Guarnier for the 121km race on March 5.

The UCI rules require organisers of WorldTour events to invite the top 20 teams in the first ranking of the year. Organiser Giusy Virelli confirmed to Cyclingnews that 10th-ranked UnitedHealthcare and 20th-ranked Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx declined invitations.

Wiggle-High5, the top ranked team, intends to challenge with Italian Elisa Longo Borghini, who last year finished third behind Guarnier and Armitstead in the first edition of the race. The announcement stated that Rabo-Liv will come with Worlds silver medallist Anna van der Breggen and former world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, although the French woman has been recovering from a fractured tibia and missed the entire cyclo-cross season.

Also in the mix will be the Cervelo-Bigla team, who were fourth last year with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, and Canyon//SRAM, whose Belarussian Anna Amialiusik was seventh in the first edition.

Orica-AIS, Hitec Products and two American teams Cylance Pro Cycling and Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank made the list with the rest of the top 20 teams - Liv Plantur, Poitou-Charentes-Futuroscope 86, BTC City Ljubljana, Bepink, Astana, Alè Cipollini, Lotto Soudal, Parkhotel Valkenburg, and Lensworld-Zannata. The Italian teams Servetto Footon, INPA Bianchi, SC Michela Fanini, Aromitalia Vaiano and Top Girls Fassa Bortolo round out the list.

The women's race begins in Siena, and includes seven sectors of white gravel roads, ranging from a massive 9.5km stretch through San Martino in Grania, to a brief foray of 800m near Vico d'Arbia for a total of 22.4km.

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