The UCI has confirmed seven of the eight Women's WorldTeams that will mark the highest level of the new two-tier team system set to launch in 2020. Absent from the list of top-tier teams is world champion Annemiek van Vleuten's team Mitchelton-Scott.
The UCI announced in August that eight teams had applied to become a Women's WorldTeam, and Mitchelton-Scott was among those applicants. The UCI has said that it was still evaluating the team team's application file.
"Approval of our Men’s WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour licenses is still 'under review' due to a slight delay in one of the documents required by the UCI," a representative from Mitchelton-Scott told Cyclingnews. "This paperwork has since been provided and all criteria is met. We expect confirmation in the next few days."
The seven teams to secure Women's WorldTeam status for the very first time after the reforms of women's cycling are Canyon-SRAM, Alé BTC Ljubljana, CCC-Liv, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Movistar Team Women, Team Sunweb and Trek-Segafredo.
The 2020 season marks the launch of the new two-tiered teams system that will change the landscape of professional women's cycling. The two levels of teams are classified as WorldTeams and Continental Teams.
There was much controversy and speculation as to how many women's teams could feasibly make the jump up to the top tier given the new financial requirements that include a minimum salary of €15,000 (employed) or €24,600 (self-employed), along with social insurances and benefits such as maternity leave.
The teams must also be able to offer a four-year sponsorship guarantee.
Boels Dolmans, which is the current number-one ranked women's team in the world, submitted an application but had it declined because it could not offer a four-year guarantee.
The team's title sponsors, Boels Rental and Dolmans, announced at the UCI Road World Championships in September that they would end sponsorship of the team after the 2020 season. The team is searching for new financial backing and aims to be among the WorldTeams in future.
Over the next three years, the UCI is aiming to gradually increase the number of Women's WorldTeams to 15 teams and the minimum salary requirements to equal the men's Professional Continental, which is currently set at €30,855.
Part of the new women's professional cycling reforms will also see a change in structure of events. There has previously only been one category of teams that included 46 UCI Women's Teams. The top 15 of those teams, according to the UCI World Ranking, were automatically invited to compete in Women's WorldTour events, although those teams are not obliged to accept the invitations.
The introduction of the new two-tier system and calendar called the UCI ProSeries includes four classes - UCI Women's WorldTour, UCI ProSeries, Class 1 and Class 2 - and means that top-tier Women's WorldTeams will be required to race in the Women's WorldTour events. Organisers will be able to invite Continental-level teams based on UCI ranking to fill out the remaining participation spots.