The women's peloton races at the 2023 Strade Bianche.

Two new women’s WorldTeams and a controversial wild card

The UCI revealed the 2024 Women's WorldTour lineup, but a small Continental team's jump in the standings raises eyebrows and questions.

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 13.12.2023 Photography by
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The UCI announced on Wednesday the final lineup of teams for the 2024 men’s and women’s WorldTours. While there’s little real change on the men’s side a year after relegation – all 18 existing WorldTeams continue and the second-tier ProTeam division sees just one addition in the TDT-Unibet outfit against the departure of Bolton Equities and Human Powered Health – the women’s side sees more changes.

There will be 15 Women’s WorldTeams, the same number as in 2023. While there is some churn to the lineup, that’s not due to the relegation cycle but rather what you might call market forces: specifically the closure of the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB team and the merger of Liv Racing-Teqfind with Jayco-AlUla. That opened two spots that allowed the 13 remaining teams to retain WorldTeam status rather than face relegation. The new EF Education-Cannondale team will start at the Continental level.

AG Insurance-Soudal and Ceratizit-WNT step up to the WorldTour level to round out the 15 squads. The small Spanish outfit Laboral-Kutxa Fundacion Euskadi also applied, but was not accepted for WWT status. But the biggest point of contention is around the automatic wildcards to all WorldTour races that are offered to the top two Continental teams from the 2023 standings.

Cofidis took the top spot, with 1,975 points. The small Tashkent Professional Cycling Team was second, at 1,708. But substantially all of those points came in small, regional events, most notably the Uzbekistan national championships. The team raced a limited calendar, and in its only WWT-level events at the Tour of Chongming Island and the Tour of Guangxi, its best finish was seventh overall, by former Olympic medalist Olga Zabelinskaya at Chongming.

The team does count several developing talents among its 2023 roster, including Poreč Ladies Tour winner and Uzbek road and TT champ Yanina Kuskova, who is 22. But Tashkent’s elevation leaves several well-regarded Continental teams, including next-best placed Saint Michel-Auber 93 and VolkerWessels (formerly Parkhotel Valkenberg), dependent on discretionary invites to big races, as Tashkent reportedly plans to race the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the Giro Donne, and several other marquee WWT events.

As reported by Dan Challis in CyclingNews, the UCI heard complaints from several teams that Tashkent’s point total was built on stacking results in smaller races with less-competitive fields, but even after points from some events were disallowed due to too-small field sizes, Tashkent remained in second place, which guarantees it entry to whatever races it wants.

2024 Women’s WorldTeams

  • AG Insurance-Soudal (Belgium)
  • Canyon-SRAM (Germany)
  • Ceratizit-WNT (Germany)
  • FDJ-Suez (France)
  • Fenix-Deceuninck (Belgium)
  • Human Powered Health (USA)
  • Lidl-Trek (USA)
  • Liv-AlUla-Jayco (Australia)
  • Movistar (Spain)
  • Roland (Switzerland)
  • DSM firmenich-PostNL (Netherlands)
  • SD Worx (Netherlands)
  • Visma-Lease a Bike (Netherlands)
  • UAE Team ADQ (United Arab Emirates)
  • Uno-X Mobility (Norway)

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