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Eighth rider quits Zaaf, team drops below UCI minimum roster size

Just seven riders remain at team, below the minimum of eight mandated by the UCI.

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The trouble at Zaaf continues with an eighth rider quitting the beleaguered squad just four months into the season.

Egyptian champion Ebtissam Zaied announced Wednesday evening that she would not race for the team any longer, leaving it with just seven riders from the original 15 that started the season.

The team is now below the minimum limit — which is eight — set by the UCI to register a Continental team. The UCI’s rules does not give a time limit for the team to replace a rider before disciplinary action is taken and VeloNews has contacted the governing body for clarification.

“I want to announce that I leave the ZAAF cycling team from today. The current situation made everything quite uncomfortable and it was the right moment to make this choice,” Zaied wrote in an Instagram post. “I have shared great moments with my teammates, and I wish them all the best in the future. I stay positive and I am looking forward to see new opportunities coming.

“This is definitely not what I was expecting for this season, but I will stay strong physically and mentally and I will continue to work hard especially for the next track cycling world championship in Glasgow at the beginning of August which is an important step for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Thank you to all the people who support me everywhere and every time.”

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Zaaf has been mired in problems for the last month after it had emerged that it hadn’t been paying its riders their salaries or expenses.

The UCI told VeloNews on Wednesday that it was keeping the team under daily monitoring and that rule breaches could result in anything from a warning to the revoking of its license.

The UCI has already made its exemption to its rules barring riders on UCI teams from signing for another UCI squad until June 1.

Since then, several riders have already found new teams with Audrey Cordon-Ragot moving to Human Powered Health, Lucie Jounier to Coop-Hitec Products, Mereille Meijering to Movistar, and Lizzie Stannard to Israel-Premier Tech Roland.

Heidi Franz is scheduled to ride for the U.S. national team at the Elsy Jacobs Tour later this week. Along with Zaied, Maggie Coles-Lyster, and Michaela Drummond have not yet signed new contracts since leaving Zaaf earlier this month.

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