The Tashkent City team ahead of stage 4 of the UAE Tour.

Tashkent City is officially heading to the Tour de France Femmes

The Uzbekistan-registered squad earned enough points last year – even after the UCI deducted a substantial sum – to get an invite.

The Tashkent City team ahead of stage 4 of the UAE Tour.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 25.04.2024 More from Dane +

The Tashkent City women’s team is officially heading to the Tour de France Femmes this August in what marks a success for the organization’s controversial approach to accruing UCI points – even after the sport’s governing body acted to reduce the squad’s points total from the past year.

Tour de France Femmes invites are attained either via UCI ranking or discretionary wildcard picks. Tashkent City is in through the former.

The Uzbekistan-based squad has raced at the UCI Women’s Continental level since 2022, and last season, the team began to draw attention as it racked up UCI points via questionable methods. The not-quite-above-board approach used by the team to secure points included competing in races that did not feature the minimum of 40 riders required to make UCI points available as well as starting riders on both their own team and on an Uzbek national selection in various Uzbek races, initially allowing more riders than should have been allowed to accrue UCI points for their results.

The team ended 2023 in 18th on the UCI’s team rankings, ahead of squads like Cofidis, St Michel-Auber 93, and Lifeplus Wahoo.

As Cyclingnews reported in November, team coach Gleb Groysman said that the team had not been aware that what it was doing was in violation of UCI rules.

Tashkent City also apparently delivered utterly dominant showings – filling out most of the spots in the top 10s across multiple disciplines – at last year’s Uzbek national championships, which have been alleged in reports across multiple media outlets to have never actually happened.

Longtime pro Olga Zabelinskaya, who was previously registered as a Russian athlete and who served a doping ban in 2014 and 2015, did secure a top 10 GC finish for Tashkent City at the Tour of Chongming Island last year, but that was the team’s only notable showing in a Women’s WorldTour event.

Towards the end of last year, the UCI reviewed the team’s season, apparently spurred by a request from the St. Michel-Mavic-Auber93 team to look into alleged irregularities. The governing body decided to deduct a substantial haul of points from Tashkent City’s total – but even after the reduction in points, the team remained high enough on the standings to put them in line for one of the automatic bids to the Tour de France awarded to the highest-ranking Continental squads.

As such, when the ASO made the official announcement of teams invited to the 2024 Tour on Wednesday, Tashkent City’s name was included alongside all 15 WorldTour teams and fellow automatic invitee Cofidis. The ASO also extended discretionary invites to Arkéa-B&B Hotels, EF Education-Cannondale, Laboral Kutxa-Fundación Euskadi, Lotto Dstny, and the aforementioned St. Michel-Mavic-Auber93.

Tashkent City will thus be the first-ever Uzbek registered team to start the Tour de France when the women’s race rolls out from Rotterdam on August 12.

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