ONE Pro Cycling announced on Saturday that they will disband at the end of the season. The British team, founded by ex-cricketer Matt Prior, will instead create a women's squad in the hope of competing in the Women's WorldTour in 2019.
Prior created the team in 2015 and, after one season at Continental level on the British domestic circuit, secured a Professional Continental licence for 2016. All along, the ambition was to take the squad to the WorldTour.
It was hoped they could make the step up in 2017 after a year in the Pro Conti ranks, but they ended up going the other way, dropping back down to Continental level due to a budget shortfall. The blow was attributed to bike sponsor Factor moving away to join AG2R La Mondiale.
At the time Prior said the ambition to make it to the WorldTour remained in tact but, two years on, he has now decided to pull the plug. The team currently has 10 riders on the books.
"ONE Pro Cycling today announce that they will not be running a men’s UCI Continental team for the 2019 season," read the statement.
However, the team will not disappear as such. The decision to cut the men's squad has been made to allow for the creation of a women's squad, which is similarly envisaged to compete at the top level of the sport.
"We see the opportunity within the women’s side of the sport and this is something that is very exciting," read the statement, which suggested the team's current sponsors will continue, having reacted "with great positivity" to the news.
"ONE Pro Cycling has always been about effecting positive change in the sport of cycling that goes far beyond winning bike races. We believe that the greatest opportunity to do this now lies within the women’s side of the sport and our passion and ambition has only increased to make this change of direction a success."
The team said they hope to finalise the women's squad before the end of September. They would become the second new women's team, after Trek-Segafredo announced their new project with Lizzie Deignan earlier this summer.
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