Virtu Cycling Women announced Thursday that they have signed former world champion Marta Bastianelli and rising talent Sofia Bertizzolo to the 2019 roster. The team has also extended the contract with Barbara Guarischi.
"Team Virtu Cycling Women are known for their easy-going environment and at the same time with a lot of ambitions and aggressive way of riding," Bastianelli said in a team statement. "This is a perfect combination for me. I’m looking forward to flashing the European Championship jersey with the flying colors of Virtu."
Bastianelli, who won the European Championships this year, joins the team after a successful three-year term with Ale Cipollini. She opened the season with a stage win at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, and then won Gent-Wevelgem, Grand Prix de Dottignies, Brabantse Pijl and Trofee Maarten Wynants. In the second half of the season, she won a stage at the BeNe Ladies Tour, the European Championships and closed out the season with a victory at Giro Toscana.
"Marta is a powerhouse sprinter who fills a big hole in the roaster that we didn't have this season," said the team's director Carmen Small. "We have the best lead-out in the peloton both in knowledge and power so with this combination, we can support Marta to the finish line every time. She is brought to the team not just as a sprinter but as a leader. Marta has shown that she can win sprints not just on flat stages but also quite hard stages like the European Championships. She has only hit the tip of the iceberg of what she can do and we are excited to support her for the upcoming years."
Bertizzolo, 21, is becoming known as one of the most promising talents in the world-class peloton. She joins the team from Astana, where she secured multiple-top-10 performances on the Women's WorldTour, and won the series' overall title in the youth classification. She also won the young rider competition at the Giro Rosa and was second in the elite women's race at the Italian national championships.
"Sofia is our youngest rider and has proven already that she is the next generation and will continue to excel in both climbing races but also races of attrition," Small said. "We want to help her develop her time trial skills so we can push for results in the GC races. She won the young rider jersey in the Women's World Tour this season and a big goal is to repeat it in 2019. Sofia is an Olympic hopeful and we want to help her on this journey. She has huge potential and with the right support, she will accomplish many great results the next year."
The team has also renewed Barbara Guarischi's contract, and the Italian will continue her role as road captain during the 2019 season.
"Barbara has a lot of fire," Small said. "Barbara has showed that she can excel in technical sprint finishes and has given her hand in attacking the peloton, going into breaks, and trying to go solo. She offered guidance to other up and coming riders and leadership on the bike. Barbara is one of the most skilled riders in the bunch so we look forward to having her share her experience with the development riders on the team. We are happy to have her for another season and looking forward to growing the team in a positive way."