The life-cycle of most athletes follows a familiar pattern similar to that of a bell curve, with their performance sloping downwards as they reach the end of their careers. Occasionally, however, there are some athletes whose careers follow a different trajectory, more akin to an exponential curve, as they align retirement with the peak of their powers. Teams can also conform to these templates and it was the latter of these two that the life-cycle of Alé BTC Ljubljana, in the end, resembled.
Their last season proved to be their most successful, accumulating a total of 20 wins including a gold medal in the time trial at the European Championships for Marlen Reusser. Next season, the newly formed women’s UAE Team Emirates will take over the WorldTour licence of Alé BTC Ljubljana, heralding a new era for the team although most of the riders currently contracted to Alé BTC Ljubljana are expected to stay on under the new UAE Team Emirates set up.
“In 2021 our project has reached its peak and the fruits of all that we have built over the years, both in terms of sport and image, have been seen,” the team manager Fortunato Lacquaniti said.
“We started with a small team of only Italian athletes, then came the big step in the WorldTour. Now we have a team that, although with a budget far from the top teams, has managed to reach fourth [fifth - ed.] place in the world ranking behind super teams and ahead of other realities much larger and structured than us. This should fill us with pride and I think it rewards everyone for the great work we have done”.
Founded in 2011, the Italian-based team began as a UCI Women’s Team before making the step up to the WorldTour in 2020, following the appointment of the Slovenian company BTC Ljubljana as a co-sponsor. Though it retained an Italian core as a WorldTour team, Alé BTC Ljubljana internationalized with the addition of riders such as Reusser, Eugenia Bujak, and Mavi García.
Alessia Piccolo, president of the Alé brand and the team, was instrumental in its formation. "As a woman, as a manager and as a cycling enthusiast, I have always believed in the potential of women's cycling and we can proudly say that we were among the first to believe in this movement and to create an exclusively female professional team,” she said.
“Over the years we've grown a lot, we've had some great satisfaction and I think we've made a big contribution to the growth of the sport and the image of this movement in Italy and around the world. With this agreement with UAE, we can guarantee continuity to a project that is very close to our hearts.”
Piccolo has confirmed that the Alé brand will continue in top-tier cycling and will outfit the men's and women's WorldTour Team BikeExchange through 2023.
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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.