Team president Ruben Contreras, owner of the Cogeas group, told Cyclingnews that his team hopes to become the first Swiss outfit in the Women’s WorldTour. The name ‘Edelweiss’ is a nod to the Swiss national flower.
“What is important for the Cogeas group and the Roland group is that we enter the WorldTour, because it’s very important for Switzerland to have a WorldTour team,” Contreras said.
The team, currently registered in Russia but based in Lausanne, will be registered in Switzerland for 2022.
“Roland is such a big Swiss company and a big sponsor in alpine and cross-country skiing, mountain biking with Jolanda Neff, and in biathlon, so they’re a very significant group in the development of Swiss sport. The partnership with Roland gives us the ability to step up to a higher level.”
The move from Continental level to WorldTour will see the current team’s 14-rider roster shrink to ten.
“We have eight riders, and we are hoping to add two more. Currently we have received over 30 applications, so we are looking at our options and certainly we will be able to select the two final riders.”
Contreras told Cyclingnews that six riders from the existing Continental squad will ride for the team next year: Petra Stiasny (Switzerland), Hannah Buch (Germany), Olga Zabelinskaya (Uzbekistan) and the Russian trio of Diana Klimova, Tamara Dronova and Gulnaz Khatuntseva. They have also signed Swiss track cyclist Aline Seitz, and Inés Cantera of Spanish outfit Sopela.
Five teams have applied for six available UCI Women’s WorldTour licences, and though they were a surprise inclusion in the list of applicants, Contreras believes his team have done what is necessary to be granted the top-level status.
“All the documentation that they asked for, everything is in order, including the bank guarantee of €150,000. They have accepted all of our documentation. We weren’t missing a single page, everything was correct.”
On the new sponsorship, Contreras says Roland have offered two years of support, with the option of two more years. His own company, Cogeas, will continue sponsoring the team “for a minimum of five years”, and he expects his long-standing relationship with bike manufacturer Look to continue.
Though their first priority is to gain WorldTour status, Cogeas already have ambitious plans for the future, including attracting new long-term sponsors and forming a women’s development team.