Marta Bastianelli is forced to search for a new team after Bjarne Riis announced that he will bring an end to Team Virtu at the end of the season due to lack of sponsorship. The former world champion, who is currently injured, said that she was contracted with the Denmark-based UCI Women's Team through 2020, but will now need to look for a new contract elsewhere.
"The Virtu, my club team, closes at the end of the season due to financial problems," Bastianelli told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The team manager Bjarne Riis has confirmed to us as well. Very unfortunate, I believe in this project to the point that I had signed a two-year contract, so even for 2020. From now on I will commit myself to find another solution for next season. It is crucial considering that next year there will be the Tokyo Olympics."
Riis, who started the team in 2017, said he hoped to continue the women's programme but with a lack of sponsors, continuing isn't possible. Meanwhile, Bastianelli said she had other teams show an interest in signing her for next season, but because she signed a two-year deal with Virtu, she didn't follow-up.
"We remain displaced," Bastianelli said. "The team is well organised and the results are coming. We did not expect this. Some other teams had been in touch with me, but knowing that I had a contract for the following year as well threads soon ended. Now it's different, and I'll have to go look, but in the meantime the priority is to get back physically. We'll see."
Team Virtu began in 2017 after Bjarne Riis and business partner Lars Seier Christensen took over the BMS Birn squad. It was part of Riis' ambition to build a Denmark-centric cycling organisation with the aim of creating a feeder team for an eventual Danish WorldTour squad. The men's program, currently operating as Team Waoo at the Continental level, will continue in 2020.
No Giro Rosa
Bastianelli has been sidelined from racing for much of June with tendonitis in her knee. She said it is likely due to work overload. The injury will force her to skip the upcoming Giro Rosa from July 5-14. Bastianelli said that her tendonitis is on the inside of her right knee and she has not been able to ride in 10 days.
"The [Giro Rosa] course is very hard and it would not make sense to try in the conditions in which they are," she said.
Bastianelli has had an outstanding season that includes victories at Tour of Flanders, Ronde van Drenthe, Omloop het Hageland, along with two stages and the general classification at Gracia-Orlova and a stage win at Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, where she did not finish the final stage. She won the world title in 2007 in Stuttgart.
Bastianelli said she will recover now and focus on race in August and September ahead of her bid to win a second world title at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
"Better to think about to prepare well the objectives of August and especially in September, because there is a World suited to my characteristics," she said.