The new Riis-Seier Project, managed by Bjarne Riis, confirmed Thursday that it has taken over the men's continental team Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept and the women's team Team BMS Birn, which will change their title to match the men's outfit during the 2017 season and compete in the Women's WorldTour. The announcement also confirmed 13 men and 10 women including US time trial champion Carmen Small.
"I see great potential in both teams," Riis said in a team statement. "They have proved themselves several times in the last years and have played an important role in helping Danish talents on to a bigger stage. We wish to make the teams even better and continue to develop the talents on both teams."
Riis, who was dismissed from his role as general manager at Team Tinkoff in 2015, returned to professional cycling at the Tour of Denmark in July with the newly named Team Virtu Pro-VeloConcept. The squad had previously been registered as Team Trefor but was taken over by Riis and his business partner, Lars Seier, the former CEO of Saxo Bank.
Bo Handberg Madsen will continue to direct the women's program Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept next season. The team has signed 10 riders and their combined UCI points will rank them among the top level teams that will compete in the second edition of the Women's WorldTour.
The roster includes Small, who split 2016 racing first for Cervelo Bigla and then Cylance, along with Pernille Mathiesen, Christina Siggaard, Camilla Møllebro Pedersen, Louise Norman Hansen, Jannie Sand, Sara Mustonen, Sara Penton, Claudia Koster and Natalie Kerwin.
"With a professional women's cycling team on the WorldTour we hope to inspire young Danish female cyclist to pick up cycling, so Denmark can continue to develop world-class riders," Riis said.
Michael Skelde will direct the men's Continental team Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept, which has finalized their roster with 13 riders; Alexander Kamp, Rasmus Guldhammer, Michael Carbel, Kasper Asgreen, Niklas Larsen, Andreas Hyldgaard Jeppesen, Michael Reihs, Thomas Nybo Riis, Mark Sehested Pedersen, Anthon Charmig, Mads Rahbek, Nicolaj Moltke Steen and Niklas Eg.
"From next season the teams already consist of some of the best Danish talents and experienced riders who can battle for victory in both Danish and international races," Riis said.
Riis told Cyclingnews in July that the long-term goal of the Continental men's Team Virtu Pro-VeloConcept is to become a feeder squad for a WorldTour project in future.