As the UCI readies itself to implement a two-tiered team system in women's pro cycling, Ale Cipollini announced on Thursday that they would request a top-level Women's WorldTeam licence in 2020. If approved, they would become the only team in Italy to hold a licence at the highest level of the sport.
"Now, ahead of celebrating our 10th year in the sport, I'm proud to announce that our project is continuing and that we're going to request a UCI licence for the Women's WorldTour 2020," said the team's president, Alessia Piccolo.
"If the response is positive, we'll be the first Italian team to be part of the UCI's reform. We'll represent Italy in cycling in the highest category, as there aren't any teams in the men's WorldTour from our country."
The team will celebrate its 10th anniversary next season, and is ranked among the top teams in the world. Under the current rules, the top 15 teams in the UCI world ranking are automatically invited to compete in events that are part of the Women's WorldTour. Ale Cipollini was positioned in 13th place in the world ranking that was published in January.
Title sponsors Alé Cycling, Cipollini and DMT announced their intent to become a Women's WorldTeam for 2020. The team also recently added new sponsors in Windtex, Deine and Bardiani CSF.
"I started this project nine years ago, investing and believing in women's cycling at a time when it didn't get much coverage," Piccolo said. "There were very few brands supporting us, but I've seen the team grow year by year, and have dedicated my time and work to the ladies – not just in terms of increasing sponsorship, but also through management, logistics and communications.
"I'd like any potential new partners to receive this message, and extend an invitation: believe in, and support, this project. Both the sporting and marketing forces of these girls and this team will give great results."
As part of cycling's reforms, the UCI announced that it would restructure the women's teams into two tiers: WorldTeams and Continental Teams. UCI President David Lappartient said that the aim was to have five teams represent the top tier in 2020, with the goal of becoming 15 teams by 2022. The top-tier teams will also be obliged to pay a newly implemented minimum salary to their riders, along with other insurances.
Lappartient told Cyclingnews in September that the five teams will be chosen via an application process and not by UCI World Ranking points. He said that he hoped that there would be five teams that were able to meet the Women's WorldTeam requirements, but that if there are additional applications, he would consider increasing the number of teams in the top division.
Ale Cipollini's roster this year includes two former junior European road race champions in Anna Trevisi and Nadia Quagliotto, 2016 junior time trial world champion Karlijn Swinkels and three current national road race champions in Eri Yonamine (Japan), Jelena Eric (Serbia) and Na Ah-Reum (South Korea). The team also includes Chloe Hosking, Giorgia Bariani, Romy Kasper, Soraya Paladin, Diana Peñula, Jessica Raimondi and Marjolein Van't Geloof.