VN ticker: Zaaf to keep Vuelta Femenina wildcard despite rider exodus, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB signs speed skater
Here's the news making the headlines on Friday, April 21.
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Zaaf to keep Vuelta Femenina wildcard despite rider exodus
The organizers of the Vuelta Femenina have confirmed that they will not revoke the Zaaf team’s wildcard entry to the race, despite nearly half of the squad’s roster quitting in the last month.
Zaaf has been embroiled in controversy for over a month after it was accused of failing to pay its riders their salaries or expenses. After Audrey Cordon-Ragot departed the team and signed for Human Powered Health earlier this month, several other riders have left the team.
Lizzie Stannard, Lucie Jounier, and Mareille Meijering have also signed for new teams while Heidi Franz and Maggie Coles-Lyster have also left but are yet to confirm new teams. It leaves the team with just eight riders and at risk of folding.
The team earned many high-profile wildcards for the opening months of the season and the Vuelta Femenina is one of its last confirmed races after it was rejected for a spot at the Tour de France Femmes. Despite the challenges at the team, the Vuelta Femenina said that it was not looking to replace the team at this time.
“The organization keeps the wildcard for the team, so it is confirmed to race. If the team folds prior to the race we’ll decide, but now we’re not considering this issue at the moment,” a spokesman told VeloNews.
Elinor Barker extends with Uno-X
After enjoying one of her strongest starts to a year on the road, Elinor Barker has secured a two-year extension to her contract with the Uno-X squad. The new deal sees the Welsh rider stay with the Norwegian squad through 2027.
Barker signed with the team ahead of the 2022 season but did not make her debut with the team until October after she took time out to have her first child. She only raced three times with the squad last year but has hit the ground running this year.
The 28-year-old plans to continue mixing track and road programs, as she has done for her whole career, but she is putting more focus on the road this year.
Elinor Barker 🏴 Decorated top athlete. Highly valued person and colleague. Mum.
Confirmed racer for Uno-X until the end of 2027.
File by @FirstCycling: https://t.co/pCVg7Dz9Ph#development
📸: Harry Talbot pic.twitter.com/d8MU2aJ9OZ
— Uno-X Pro Cycling Team (@UnoXteam) April 21, 2023
Juan Ayuso to debut at Romandie
Spanish star Juan Ayuso will make his injury-delayed season debut at Tour de Romandie next week.
Ayuso will join his UAE Team Emirates at Romandie (April 25-30), with Adam Yates as designated leader .
“The past months with the help of many people I’ve been slowly getting back from injury. Now especially the past weeks I’ve been able to get back to regular training and to a good level to compete,” Ayuso said. “The goal this week will be to find my feet in the bunch after a few months out and to get back into the team environment which you miss when you’re away. I’m motivated and excited to be starting my season which already feels like a big step.”
Ayuso injured his tendon, and hasn’t raced since finishing third in the 2022 Vuelta a España.
Speedskater Femke Beuling signs for EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
Speedskater Femke Beuling will ride for EF Education-TIBCO-SVB at the Vuelta Femenina next month after penning a contract with the squad.
Having initially taken cycling up for training, the 23-year-old has been focusing on it more recently due to a persistent foot injury. She has won two national-level events already this season.
“Last summer, when I knew the extent of my foot injury, I focused more on cycling and on racing,” Beuling said. “I was really enjoying that. I started to properly train for bike races. I felt an improvement every time I did a race. So, when I decided to quit speed skating, I was really sure that I wanted to see how far I can go on the bike.”
We are pleased to announce that Femke Beuling has signed with the team! The Dutch former speed skater will be breaking into the Women’s WorldTour peloton when she rides la Vuelta Femenina next month. We’re so excited to welcome you, Femke! https://t.co/nrCtzm4ILX pic.twitter.com/Q6qxuJaMYZ
— EF Education-TIBCO-SVB (@EF_TIBCO_SVB) April 20, 2023