Former UCI President Cookson to start women’s team in 2019

Former UCI President Brian Cookson announced on Monday that he is not leaving cycling and is looking to start a women's team for the 2019 season.

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Former UCI President Brian Cookson, who lost his reelection bid at the end of September to France’s David Lappartient, announced on Monday his intentions to start a Women’s WorldTour team for the 2019 season.

“Over the next few months, I am going to be exploring the possibilities of setting up a new professional cycling team structure,” Cookson wrote in an essay published on his personal website. “My intention is that this should begin with the establishing of a UCI Women’s WorldTour Team for 2019 – a team that will meet or exceed the new high standards that are likely to be put in place by the UCI for the new two-tier structure for Women’s Teams that was developed during my term as UCI President.”

Cookson’s ambitions come on the heels of ASO revealing during the 2018 Tour de France route ceremony last month that their women’s race, La Course, would be a single day. The consensus among the women’s peloton was general disappointment to see La Course move back to one-day event in 2018.

Lappartient called on race organizers and television companies to give more attention to women’s cycling just days after defeating Cookson, but that seemed to be heard on deaf ears after ASO revealed the details of La Course.

While the new Cookson project, which would be based in the United Kingdom, does not have any funding yet. Cookson believes there are companies out there “that could benefit tremendously” from being involved not just with the sport of cycling in general, but particularly with a women’s team.

“I am putting this idea out there because I want to stimulate the decision-makers in those companies, many of whom (men and women) enjoy cycling themselves, to start to think about the possibilities,” Cookson wrote. “The potential return on their investment could be very substantial, but I want to make it clear that it will need innovation, creativity, and a major effort from their side to make that happen.

“I am not looking for a company to simply underwrite the team, I am looking for partners who want to invest in an initiative that will make a real difference to people’s lives, potentially right around the world.”

Cookson ended the essay by writing his ambitions would not end at just a women’s, but that would simply be a start. He mentioned starting an under-23 men’s development team as well and possibly even building that into a men’s WorldTour team. He also wrote he is working on a book about his experiences in cycling.

Read Cookson’s full essay here.

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