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Brian Cookson plans to launch Women's WorldTour team

Recently defeated former UCI President looks ahead to a new Women's WorldTour team for the 2019 season

Brian Cookson has posted as statement on his website about his new plans to launch a Women's WorldTour team from the start of the 2019 season.

The former head of British Cycling was recently defeated in a landslide election by Frenchman David Lappartient as he attempted to secure a second term as President of the UCI.

'After a number of weeks considering my future, I have decided that I am not quite ready to disappear altogether from the world of cycling,' Cookson's statement said.

He lists his current engagements 'doing a small number of speaking engagements, media interviews, podcasts' and how he'll 'be writing a book about my lifetime of experiences in the sport.'

However, it's Cookson's moves into women's cycling that are of particular interest.

He intends to go about '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.

This team will not be like those already in existence, Cookson says.

'There has never been so much interest in women’s sport, fitness and health generally, and this is clearly reflected in the interest in women’s cycling, not just at the elite level, but in terms of general participation.'

Stable partners

The statement, which can be found in full here, goes on to discuss the need for engagement from sponsors and partners, but Cookson is quick to add that he is 'not looking for a company to simply underwrite the team.'

Adding, '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.'

It's an interesting distinction, as in the case of Team Sky for instance sponsor BSkyB actually owns the team. The alternative of an independent company seeking sponsors year-to-year brings with it possible instability, as we've seen with the near-closure of Cannondale-Drapac, who will now be known as EF-Drapac.

Cookson was also on the supervisory board for Tour Racing Limited, Team Sky's holding company. So there's every hope he'll bring the same expertise to forming a women's equivalent to the financially buoyant Team Sky.

Cookson is open about the fact that this is all an exercise in generating support and interest at this stage, with no funding or infrastructure yet in place to make it happen.

Cookson's replacement as the head of cycling's world governing body has already made clear that he's be targeting motor doping, the use of corticosteroids and race radios.

However, his rise to the top hasn't been universally praised with WorldTour team manager Jonathan Vaughters saying that Lappartient 'seems focused on popularising himself.'

Any changes he hopes to make will start to appear from January when the new WorldTour seasons kick off.

Additional reporting by Peter Stuart

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