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Officials from the U.S. team recently confirmed their intention to file for UCI Women’s WorldTour license for 2022 and 2023.
“We’ve grown every year since 2007 and this is the next step,” Charles Aaron, the team’s managing director, told VeloNews. “This has been the goal since the formation of the women’s WorldTour.”
Rally launched its women’s program in 2012 under the name Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, and over the years it has worked with some of the top riders in North America. Sara Poidevin, Megan Jastrab, Alison Tetrick, Jade Wilcoxson, and Leah Kirchmann — among many others — have passed through the program. The race has competed at the UCI Continental team level, and its current lineup includes Madeline Bemis, Holly Breck, Katie Clouse, Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, Heidi Franz, Leigh Ann Ganzar, Clara Koppenburg, Poidevin, Olivia Ray, Emma White, and Lily Williams.
For 2021 the team has pursued a largely international racing program. The team completed the Giro d’Italia Donne, La Course by Le Tour de France, Vuelta a Burgos, and the Navarra and Nafarroasko races in Spain. Team officials said they hoped to continue with the European-centric racing program in 2022 and beyond.
The step up to the top level of racing has not been without its setbacks. Rally lost three of its riders during the Giro d’Italia Donne, as Koppenberg and Doebel-Hickok abandoned with injuries, and Breck was time cut during the individual time trial.
Still, officials are confident that the squad can accomplish the move into the UCI Women’s WorldTour.
“Our team is growing. It’s an exciting time for women’s cycling and upgrading to women’s WorldTour is the next logical step,” said manager Jonas Carney, who helped launch the squad in 2007. “I never thought we would be doing this for 15 years. It’s quite amazing that after all this time, we’re still experiencing growth. Growth and change keep things interesting and I’m very fortunate to be a part of this organization.”
Rally is not the only U.S. squad looking to join the UCI Women’s WorldTour for 2022 — Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank recently revealed its intentions to apply for WorldTeam status as well. Currently, there are nine teams at that level: Alé BTC Ljubljana, Canyon-SRAM, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Liv Racing, Movistar Team, SD Worx, BikeExchange, Team DSM, and Trek-Segafredo. For the 2022 season, the UCI hopes to increase that number to 15 teams in the top-tier WorldTeam level.
The move up to UCI Women’s WorldTeam status requires additional investment for salary and benefits, as well as a multi-year commitment from sponsors. For 2022, the UCI will require all Women’s WorldTeam teams to maintain a minimum wage of €27,500 for riders. Paid maternity leave, holiday time, health insurance, and other benefits are also required.