Dutch sprinter Amy Pieters will move across from the Wiggle-High 5 squad to Boels Dolmans, signing a two-year contract with Danny Stam's number one squad. Stam says he sees Pieters as a boost for the team's Classics squad.
"Of course, she can have a leading role in the bunch sprints, but that's not the main goal with Amy," said Stam. "I see her doing important work for the team in the spring classics. She fits in with our classics team perfectly."
Pieters, 25, had her breakout year in 2014, coming into the Ladies Tour of Qatar as a foil for then-teammate Kirsten Wild. She won the second stage from a breakaway and then helped Wild to the overall victory, finished second overall and won the youth classification. She later won the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. This year she won a stage of the Aviva Women's Tour and the prologue of La Route de France, but has been missing a 'big victory'.
"My main hope for the next season is to achieve a really big victory," said Pieters. "I made a step higher this year, but I didn't have the big victory I had hoped for, and that's the goal for next season. I hope I can do a good winter and be important for the team in the spring and in the sprints."
"My biggest ambition is to be there for the team in the spring," said Pieters. "I hope by stepping up for the team, I can help the team achieve more victories and have a win for myself. I can sprint, but I also like the other roles. I want to be in the breaks and race aggressively and show that I can help the team in every situation."
"When I'm the rider that is there for the sprint, I can do the sprint, but we have a lot of fast riders on Boels-Dolmans," Pieters added. "We'll have to see how things are going in the spring and how the other girls are riding and racing before we really know."
Pieters joins Olympic champion Anna Van der Breggen and Jip Van den Bos as newcomers, joining returning riders Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead), Amalie Dideriksen, Megan Guarnier, Nikki Harris, Christine Majerus and Kasia Pawlowska.
Elvin, Spratt renew with Orica-AIS
Spratt started off strong, winning the national championships and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. She went on to win a stage of the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen and finished 15th in the Olympic Games road race.
Elvin was second at the Ronde van Drenthe WorldTour race, and won Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik in May.
"We are very excited to have Spratt and Elvin back with us for the 2017 season," sport director Gene Bates said. "This season both riders have really stepped up and had some great victories."
"Gracie continued her progression in becoming a serious classics contender. She is a very versatile rider within the team, achieving victories in both Australia and Europe whilst showing her commitment to her teammates.
"In 2017 we expect great things from Gracie, and believe she will really fulfil all the potential she has showed thus far."
"Next year will be Spratt's sixth season with the ORICA-AIS family," Bates added. "This year was a breakthrough year for Spratt, she had great consistency and achieved victories in Australia at the national championships, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and in Europe at Thuringen Rundfahrt."
"2016 was Spratt's most successful season to date. She brings incredible professionalism and great leadership with her to the team and after such a strong 2016, we are all excited to see her back with us and chasing big results in 2017."
Podium Ambition to drop back to amateur level
Dame Sarah Storey's Podium Ambition squad will not continue at the professional level in 2017, she announced today. She said that they were not able to secure enough budget to remain at the top level.
"We've worked really hard over the past 12 months on and off the bike, and we haven't been able to find sufficient sponsorship," Storey said to Sky Sports News. "Unfortunately we've had to make that really tough decision to step back from the UCI level, and try and create something more sustainable for the future perhaps in some other way.
"It's interesting, we're celebrating women's sports week and are trying to get more women into sport, and that's working brilliantly, but we still have this shortfall at the top end. It's one of the big challenges in women's sport. We still struggle to get the coverage on television which would then attract the sponsors.
"We're not the only team in this position," Storey said. "There are other teams who have been UCI-registered teams for one or two years and then have had to step back. Costs are going up for teams all the time. Costs are going up for organisers all the time. As everyone tries to make the sport more professional, at some point it's going to give, and for us it's given already because we haven't found the right investment."
Daiva Tuslaite signs with Ale Cipollini
Lithuanian national champion Daiva Tuslaite has signed with Alé Cipollini for the 2017 season.
Tuslaited won the overall mountains classification at the Trophée d'Or Féminin with Inpa-Bianchi this year, and was third overall.
"I'm sure Daiva will make a huge leap in quality with us, she's a strong athlete, winning, mature to the right point and that made a valuable experience, even internationally," team director Fortunato Lacquaniti said.
"I'm happy with my choice, I always liked the team led by Alessia Piccolo, and now I am proud to be part of it," Tuslaited said. "I thank the team for giving me this opportunity, the team has been strengthened a lot, it will be a great season, here I can make surely a quality leap."