Zaaf Cycling will not be using its wildcard invitation for the 2023 La Vuelta Femenina which starts this Monday. The race mentioned that the team has declined its invitation in the end and that no new team will take their place. The teams were announced originally at the start of March 2023, with Zaaf Cycling included as at that time, the issues surrounding the team hadn’t been made public.
Rumours first started circulating at the Tour de Normandie Feminin just 2 and a half weeks later with riders offering their services to other teams. Within 2 more weeks, Audrey Cordon-Ragot had left and signed with Human Powered Health. Her exit has seen other former teammates leave, some to new teams and some just to ride elsewhere.
“The team declined the invitation. We cannot say anything further about the future of the team. As a result, 23 teams will appear at the start. We will no longer invite an extra team.”Unipublic, La Vuelta Femenina organisers
UCI Continental Teams are required to have a minimum of 8 riders, with today’s announcement by Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed that she has left the team, Zaaf Cycling now only has 7 riders. It’s a rule that hasn’t been tested before, with teams traditionally just closing the doors once they reach this sort of situation. Normally management collapses before we reach the point where riders are leaving. Somehow the current situation is a combination of the Casa Dorada, Colnago CM and Paule Ka issues, that resulted in all of the teams effectively closing in those forms.
Another rider is rumoured to also be leaving the team shortly as well, making any potential restoration even harder to pull off. The rules are unclear about how long a team has to restore itself to the minimum 8 riders but The team currently has an invite to the Itzulia Women race starting on 12th May and whilst it feels unlikely at the moment, it’s still a possibility.