The Movistar team have confirmed the creation of a new professional women's squad that will compete internationally from 2018 onwards.
On Monday, the Spanish team held a press conference in the headquarters of Telefonica, parent company of the Movistar phone network, to announce the news formally, two weeks after it emerged that plans for a women's team were in the works.
The team will comprise around ten riders, with the same name, kit, and sponsors as the men's team.
"The main news is the creation of a women's team that will participate in the most important international competitions next year, 2018," read a press release.
"The project is another initiative from the company to encourage integration and equality of opportunities between men and women, offering equality in a traditionally masculine sport."
The men's team dates back to 1980, with Movistar coming on board as title sponsor in 2011. They will join Sunweb, Lotto-Soudal, Orica-Scott, FDJ and Astana as WorldTour outfits with both men's and women's squads, and will become the third UCI-registered Spanish women's team alongside Bizkaia-Durango and Lointek.
It was explained that the team will have a predominantly Spanish focus, and will form part of a wider drive to develop women's cycling in the country. Spain is currently ranked 15th in the UCI nations standings, 23-year-old Giro Rosa stage winner Sheyla Gutierrez being their best ranked rider.
"It's a medium-to-long term project that seeks to dynamize women's cycling as a competitive sport, boosting the number of licence-holders and ensuring that Spanish female cyclists have the best sporting means to compete in the international peloton," read the press release, adding that the team will work with the Spanish Cycling Federation on other projects to develop the women's side of the sport.
President of the federation José Luis López Cerrón said: "This project will revitalize and dynamize the landscape of women's cycling as a whole in Spain, offering better visibility both to races and athletes, and creating a point of interest to potential sponsors."
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