WWT updates include development teams and maternity substitutes

The UCI is bringing in some changes for the women's peloton, but we still have to wait until 2025 for a separate U23 world championships race.

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After management committee meetings that took place at UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong last month, the UCI laid out various changes to the Women’s WorldTour that are due to come into effect on the 1st of November.

Some changes were already planned as part of the governing body’s plan to grow the WWT including increased minimum salaries, which first became a requirement in the Women’s WorldTour in 2020. Having started at just €15,000 for the first year the minimum grew to €27,500 for 2021 and will be increased to €32,102, in line with the minimum set for men’s ProTeams for next year. the minimum teams must pay their riders is due to increase again to €35,000 for 2024, and €38,000 for 2025.

There are still no minimum salary requirements for UCI Continental teams which, as highlighted in the women’s union The Cyclists’ Alliance’s annual survey, exacerbates an increasingly large gap between the upper and lower echelons of the women’s professional peloton.

The UCI also outlined a neo-pro framework for the women’s peloton. Previously new Women’s WorldTour riders had to be signed up on a full-professional contract.

In the future riders registered as neo-pros will receive a minimum salary of €26,849, rising to €31,768 for the 2025 season and teams may sign neo-pro rides in addition to the maximum number of 20 riders currently allowed on their rosters.

As well as neo-pros, teams will also be able to bring in new recruits to provide maternity cover (the provision of maternity leave is another requirement within the Women’s WorldTour framework laid out in 2020). The article states the sanctioning of the: “Introduction of the possibility for teams to register, at any time, a rider without a contract to substitute a rider on maternity leave. In addition, riders may register with a UCI Team at any time at the end of their maternity leave.”

Elsewhere, in what appears to be a move inspired by the unfortunate disqualification of Barbara Malcotti from the Tour de France Femmes after she received service from the team’s only car in the race as it was returning from a rider in the breakaway, the governing body will allow more vehicles in races of six stages or more.

Team sizes for races of the same length will also increase to seven riders.

Article 2.2.003; 2.6.033 reads: “For UCI Women’s WorldTour stage events of six stages or more, teams will be composed of seven starting riders. In addition, teams will be allowed to enter a second team car in the race convoy.”

While many teams have unofficially served as development teams for years, the UCI has now introduced the possibility of an official structure for teams to create development squads to feed into their elite teams “following the same process as the men’s professional teams.”

To qualify, the two teams must be operated under the same paying agent and the kit and names must “share a common identity.”

Despite much attention being paid to development pathways, the UCI confirmed plans to wait until 2025 to introduce a separate women’s U23 race at the world championships.

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