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New loophole could offer WorldTeam status to new women's teams

SCHMOLLN GERMANY MAY 25 Amy Pieters of Netherlands and Team SD Worx Charlotte Becker of Germany and Arkea Pro Cycling Team Emilia Fahlin of Sweden and Team FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope Emma Norsgaard Jorgensen of Denmark and Movistar Team lead The Peloton during the 34th Internationale LOTTO Thringen Ladies Tour 2021 Stage 1 a 899km stage from Schmolln to Schmolln ltlt2021 lottothueringenladiestour womencycling on May 25 2021 in Schmolln Germany Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Women's peloton in 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

For 2022, the UCI will make space for 15 Women’s WorldTeams, with a rule change providing a possible loophole for new teams hoping to join the top tier immediately. 

Until now, any team that wishes to apply for a UCI Women’s WorldTeam license "must be registered as a UCI Women’s WorldTeam or a UCI women’s continental team during the current year", according to UCI regulations.

However, an amendment to these regulations introduced on Thursday — Article 2.013.034 bis — has been made to account for the possibility that the UCI receives fewer than 15 Women’s WorldTeam applications for the 2022 season from established Continental squads.

In 2021, there are nine Women’s WorldTeams currently registered - SD Worx, Liv Racing, Alè BTC Ljubljana, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, Team DSM, Canyon-SRAM, Trek-Segafredo, Movistar, and Team BikeExchange.

Article 2.13.034 bis states: “Licence applications from teams that do not meet the conditions of in article 2.13.034 bis may be considered, in 2021 only, if the number of teams holding a UCI WorldTeam licence for the following year, added to the applicant teams considered under article 2.13.034, is less than 15.

“If the number of licence applications from teams that do not meet the conditions of article 2.13.034, taking into account only those teams that fulfil the criteria set out in article 2.13.035 (administrative, financial, ethical and organisational), is greater than the number of licences available after the allocation of licences to the teams that meet the conditions of article 2.13.034, the licence commission will decide between them on the basis of the sporting criterion set out in article 2.13.042."

Under this amendment, new teams for 2022 such as the Cofidis and Uno-X women’s teams may be eligible to register at WorldTeam level without first having to spend one season at Continental level. Both Jumbo-Visma Women’s Team and TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank have stated their intent to apply for WorldTeam status for 2022, as well as the current nine Women’s WorldTeams.

Subject to the above two teams being awarded Women’s WorldTeam status, there would be four open spaces for WorldTeam applicants. In the updated regulations, the UCI states that teams applying for Women’s WorldTeam status must still meet "administrative, financial, ethical and organisational" criteria in order to be awarded a license.

If the number of teams who meet the stipulated criteria and then apply for WorldTeam status exceeds 15 then: “a ranking shall be established by adding the points of the 10 best riders per team. These riders must be validly and definitively registered in the team’s roster for the following year (in particular, the riders must be registered in UCI DataRide and the contracts deposited with the auditor appointed by the UCI) on 1 November. The points counted for this ranking shall be the points in the first published ranking following the last UCI Women'sWorldTour event of that year.

“Within the limit of the number of licences available after the allocation of licences to teams that meet the conditions of article 2.13.034, the teams with the highest ranking in the classification according to the previous paragraph shall be deemed to fulfill the sporting criterion.”

The deadline for applications for 2022 WorldTeam licenses is October 15, 2021.