CCC-Liv ready to take 'big step' as women's peloton prepares for a tiered-team system

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Marianne Vos has finished her best season in years, winning the 2019 Women's WorldTour upon its conclusion at the Tour of Guangxi in Guilin, China. The 32-year-old secured 32 top-10 finishes and 19 individual wins this year.

It was a rewarding season for the whole CCC-Liv team ahead of a changing landscape in women's cycling that will see a new two-tier team system and calendar restructure in 2020.

CCC-Liv's manager Eric van den Boom has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team will be registered as a Polish team, rather than Dutch next year. He also confirmed that Vos and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio would, once again, co-lead the team.

The team is currently ranked fifth in the respective Women's WorldTour team standings and is one of eight teams that have applied to be part of the top-tier – WorldTeams – of a new two-tier team system next year.

"It's a big step in women's cycling. It's a challenge, and although I guess the step is really big for most of the teams, I think it's a good one," said CCC-Liv's manager Eric van den Boom. 

"Maybe it's a little too early, and women's cycling is not totally ready for it, but you need to start somewhere. I hope the teams that applied now all get the WorldTeam licence, then we can have a serious and good kick-off of this structure."

In 2020, for the first time, the women's peloton will be tiered, with a maximum of eight WorldTeams making up the top division, while the rest of the registered applicants receiving a Continental Team status. 

The top-tier status comes with responsibilities of providing a stronger social and legal support for riders, including minimum salaries and maternity leave, but also will allow the holder to participate in top races of the calendar. 

The UCI is restructuring the scaffolding of the calendar. The first few seasons are assumed to be a step-by-step build-up. But a larger number of top teams racing in a gradually improving financial and broadcasting setting is expected to attract bigger investment and competition for the top spots.

CCC-Liv's bid to secure a WorldTeam licence is helped by the sponsorship of the Polish shoe manufacturer, CCC. The Polish sponsor also supports a men's WorldTour team and a development squad. The company sought to enter the women's peloton in late 2018 and joined Van den Boom's team.

The men's CCC Team took off as a merger between structures of second-tier CCC Sprandi Polkowice and the WorldTour's BMC Racing team. The women's outfit, on the other hand, relied on their Dutch structures that came from BSB Bank/Nederland Bloeit team, a squad that Vos spearheaded in the early part of her career.

Van den Boom, who now has two Polish riders on board, praised the cooperation and the ability to coordinate logistical operations.

"We have our own structure that works really well. In the past, we were a part of the Rabobank team, so our structure is mainly based on what is needed for the WorldTour. But indeed, we have a very warm relationship with CCC Team. If we need some information or they have some experience in travelling to some other places, we can share some ideas," Van de Boom said.

Over the years, the majority of riders in the outfit's ranks were Dutch and so, under the rule for UCI Women Teams, the team had a Dutch-registered licence.

CCC-Liv's team composition will not change significantly in 2020. Team management has decided to register the team in Poland, however, rather than the Netherlands, because its title sponsor CCC is headquartered in the country.

"If you register as a WorldTeam, the licence is not given a nationality, but a team can choose the nationality. Of course, we find it fitting, having such a big Polish main partner like CCC, that we choose the nationality the same as the men's team, Polish nationality," he said.

Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) celebrates her Women's WorldTour win at the 2019 Tour of Guangxi

Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) celebrates her Women's WorldTour win at the 2019 Tour of Guangxi (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Vos and Moolman-Pasio lead CCC-Liv in 2020

The team will again rely on Vos and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio for the results during the biggest races in 2020. Vos has traditionally brought the team their biggest victories, while Moolman-Pasio, who was new to the team this year, placed fourth in Giro Rosa, third in Setmana Valenciana and Tour of California, and both riders finished in the top 10 at the World Championships road race.

"We had a pretty good season. We saw nice developments from several rider, and of course we had great victories with Marianne, Ashleigh and Marta Lach. At the big races, being able to race as a team and finish it off quite a lot of times, that's very nice.

"The topping will be winning the WorldTour individual ranking," Van den Boom said ahead of the Tour of Guangxi – which Vos duly did after finishing third at the race.

"I must admit I was very happy that from the beginning we were very good at the races. Of course, we hope and we expected a little bit that Ashleigh and Marianne will be good, but after a few weeks of riding together, there was good chemistry between riders, and they were making each other better. Two leaders can finish the race off, and that was very motivating," he said.

Vos and Moolman-Pasio stressed from the beginning the importance of cooperation as co-leaders. The duo was seen riding in support of one another during multiple races this season. As expected, the Moolman-Pasio focused on the hilly Classics and more demanding stage races, while Vos once again rose above the level of the field in hilly and flattish Classics and smaller stage races.

"They are both very professional athletes, and they know where they are strong," Van den Boom said. "They know that if they help each other, we can succeed. For all members of the team, it counts that we try to win as a group, it's not so important who is winning. If you have two or more good riders in the final of the race, you have more chances to play good tactics and win the race. They know that they need each other to be able to play their tactical game."

CCC-Liv has also seen a few promising results from younger riders. Inge van der Heijden took the world champion title in cyclo-cross among women U23. Riejanne Markus finished sixth in Festival Elsy Jacobs. Marta Lach won a stage there, as well as a silver medal in European Championships in women's U23 road category.

"With the possibilities that CCC is giving us, we are more able to guide and help riders in a more professional way, to take the next steps in their career. And of course, it helps if you have some top riders like Ashleigh and Marianne. They know what it takes, but also they are very helpful. The rest of the team looks up more to these riders," Van der Boom said.

"For example, Marta Lach developed well. From the beginning, our sports director Jeroen Blijlevens thought that she could be a real sprinter. And then [with progress] you can give some chances to riders. She has been successful already, made a big step forward, from being a club rider to a professional level. That gave her a big push." 

CCC-Liv has not announced their full roster for the 2020 season. Vos and Moolman-Pasio are contracted to compete with the team next year, while the team also brings back Valerie Demey, Evy Kuijpers and Sabrina Stultiens. The team has already announced the signing of Soraya Paladin from Alé Cipollini.

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