Podium Ambition – previously Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International – will become a UCI Professional women’s team for 2016.
More riders are to be confirmed, but the line up will be all-British. Barney Storey said: "The number of British women riding in the professional peloton on a regular basis has not increased a great deal over the last few years and it is our intention to change that with a team that is going to be almost 100% British."
The team accumulated 28 victories in 2014, and have been on the first step of the podium 29 times in 2015 already - we spent a day with the team over the course of the Women's Tour and were impressed with their professionalism.
They’ve registered for UCI Pro Team Status ahead of the new Women’s World Tour which replaces the World Cup - and will allow for 60 per cent more racing days within the UCI women's calendar.
Barney Storey has said: “We always knew we wanted to take our riders up in to the professional peloton and the announcement of the Women’s World Tour for 2016 helped to us to make that decision for next year."
“Our race programme in 2015 included 4 UCI stage races, two of which [the Amgen Tour of California and the Aviva Women’s Tour] are now both included in the Women’s World Tour for its inaugural year in 2016. It is exciting to see two of the Women’s World Tour events being held in the UK, as well as a third professional race in Wales in May and as such we felt it was important we moved with these developments."
“We have a group of riders aiming for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, but we are also intending to add some key riders to ensure we have a strong squad throughout the year."
“With the line-up of riders we are putting together our aim would be to qualify for the World Team Time Trial Championships in Qatar next October."
In addition to the professional line up, the team will create a cycling club to be registered in the UK which will be open for anyone to join. Further details of this club will be available in the coming weeks but it is expected that the club will form the basis of a new development programme and supporters club for the professional team.
Sports Tours International and Club La Santa UK are already confirmed as playing key roles for the team in 2016. CEO of Sports Tours International Chris Bird has said: “We at Sports Tours International and Club La Santa are delighted to see Podium Ambition taking this team in to the professional ranks for our third year together. It has been impressive to watch the progress of the riders and see the collective effort of everyone and the reward is now a team that is ready for the step up next year. We are delighted to be supporting this progress and look forward to assisting with the final line up or partners that will join us in 2016."