Marianne Vos announced the name of her new team, Fortitude Pro Cycling, on her personal website and on her current team Rabo Liv's website Thursday. The roster will include 11 riders led by the multi-time and multi-discipline world champion in 2017. Vos will also look to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Rabobank announced last December that it would end all its professional sports sponsorship after 2016. Last year, the Dutch bank said that its current agreements with the Dutch cycling union, the Dutch equitation union and two cycling teams – the Rabo Development Team and Vos' Rabo Liv women’s team – all expire at the end of the 2016 season. The bank came on board as the title sponsor of Rabo Liv in 2012. The decision for the bank to end its funding left Rabo Liv's team management searching for a new sponsor this year to help keep the team afloat into 2017.
Vos confirmed to Cyclingnews in an interview in August that the team would go ahead in 2017, and although they had not secured a title sponsor at that time, she was confident they would find a replacement, but said it was a challenging task.
"We knew that Rabobank would quit sponsoring our team at the end of this year. They were in cycling since 1997 and we had our women's team for four years. We were searching for a main sponsor but we are happy that many of our current partners wanted to continue because they saw the strength of our young riders and the development and success of our team. It's nice to work with this group and continue with the strength of our program."
In the team's announcement, Rabo Liv’s current team manager Eric van den Boom invited new sponsors to the project, “Small businesses, mom-and-pop shops, larger companies with a sizable workforce, multinationals; really, all businesses that believe in our message and are interested in professional cycling are welcome to become part of the Fortitude Pro Cycling enterprise.
"We’re keen on collaborating with businesses and offering unique opportunities that, at least in the women’s peloton, are rather exceptional. The goal is create value for everyone involved."
Vos will lead the roster that also includes returning riders Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Yara Kastelijn, Jeanne Korevaar, Anouska Koster, Moniek Tenniglo. New recuits include Rotem Gafinovitz and Anna Plichta, both from BTC City Ljubljana, along with Lauren Kitchen (Hitec Products), Valentina Scandolara (Cylance) and Riejanne Markus (Team Liv Plantur).
Current Rabo Liv riders who are not involved in the new program next year are former world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, who has yet to announce her 2017 team, and Olympic gold medallist Anna van der Breggen, who is set to race with Boels Dolmans. The team also lost Lucinda Brand to Liv Plantur, Thalita De Jong to Lares-Waowdeals, Shara Gillow and Roxanne Knetemann to Poitou-Charentes -Futuroscope 86.
"The team selection was based primarily on ambition. In evaluating every contracted rider, we asked ourselves, 'Is there 200% passion and an unshakable desire to win, to go through hell for each other?' We are convinced that all of our racers score highly on the fortitude-meter," said van den Boom. "With this team, we're aiming to ride an admirable international program. The goal is to be in the running for prizes at the very highest level."