Ina Teutenberg jumped at the opportunity to be the head directeur sportif of the newly announced UCI women's team Trek Factory Racing, run under the same management as the men's WorldTour Trek-Segafredo team, that is set to makes its debut during the 2019 season.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, the retired German sprinter said she is delighted to see more men's WorldTour teams launching women's programmes.
"It is always great to see another men's WorldTour team create a women's team," said Teutenberg, who has signed on to lead the team in a full-time position for one year. "It is the most professional platform women can work at and I'm thrilled to be part of helping create that environment for the riders.
"I think the main thing is that the resources are bigger with being part of a men's team. Not just money-wise but with everything involved."
Management of the Trek-Segafredo team confirmed that it is set to launch the new UCI women's team, Trek Factory Racing, at a press conference during the Tour de France. At that time, they also confirmed the signing of former world champion Lizzie Deignan, who is currently taking time off as she is pregnant with her first baby. The new deal with Trek effectively ended her five-year term with Danny Stam's Boels Dolmans.
In a post on Twitter, Deignan said that she was looking forward to working with Teutenberg in the coming season. "Every ship needs a captain! I think our chances of success just trebled! Can't wait to work with [Ina Teutenberg], one of the best bike riders the women's peloton has ever seen, and my new boss."
Although Teutenberg declined to comment on the roster details, rumoured to be joining the team are Sunweb's Ellen Van Dijk, along with Wiggle High5 riders Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot after the team's owner Rochelle Gilmore announced that she is not registering the team next year.
The team is also expected to be racing on the UCI Women's WorldTour, along with many other events that are part of the UCI women elite calendar. They will also hire a second director to help Teutenberg with the project, to be announced at a later date.
"It is exciting to be working with a big team and therefore amazing riders," Teutenberg said. "We are working on the schedule now but it for sure we'll do the Women's WorldTour events and whichever other races make sense. Our goals are to win big races, and I do believe we have good riders for pretty much any race."
Teutenberg ended her illustrious career in 2013, largely because of a concussion. During those years, she won 21 stages of the Tour de l'Aude, six stage wins in the Route de France, 11 stage wins of the Giro d'Italia Femminile, four Liberty Classic Philadelphia titles and a win in the women's edition of the Tour of Flanders. Upon her retirement, the two-time Olympian could count over 200 race victories during her 12-year professional cycling career.
She competed for teams Specialized-lululemon, where she ended her career, along with HTC-Highroad, T-Mobile and Saturn Pro Cycling – all women's teams that were run in conjunction with professional men's outfits. Other men's WorldTour teams that also have women's teams are Movistar, Mitchelton-Scott, Lotto Soudal, Astana and Sunweb.
In a statement on Thursday, Trek Factory Racing expressed their vision to support women's continuous fight for equality and respect within professional cycling, and that "having a rider of Teutenberg's stature return in a head director's position is precisely what's needed".
"In the past, opportunities like these have been sparse, and women have had little choice but to go back to careers or families they put on hold, but with the growth of professional women's cycling in the last few years, including the creation of a UCI Women's WorldTour in 2016 and the UCI taking a more interested and active role in women's cycling, the chances for legendary role models like Teutenberg to stay in the sport are on the rise," the statement read.
Teutenberg has some experience directing after a temporary role with USA Cycling's junior women's and men's programmes overseas. She also worked as a part-time director for the Rally Cycling women's team at the Chico Stage Race and the Redlands Bicycle Classic this year.
She currently resides in San Luis Obispo, California, and recently completed a massage-therapy certificate programme with the goal of eventually setting up a practice in her home. Being pulled back into the world of professional cycling, however, means that those business goals will likely have to be put on hold while she embarks on a one-year contract with Trek Factory Racing.
Running a top-tier women's team is no easy task, but Teutenberg is up for the new challenge. "I have got all the support I can imagine, so I think I will be OK doing the job. It's still a big job, but I have lots of help."