When the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift rolls out of Rotterdam on August 12, 2024, there could be a few surprising names in the peloton.
A UCI Women’s squad from Uzbekistan, Tashkent City Women’s Pro Cycling Team, currently looks set to be invited to all Women’s WorldTour races in 2024 after finishing 19th in the UCI World Ranking of teams at the end of 2023.
The merger between Liv Racing TeqFind and Jayco-AlUla (to be renamed Liv-AlUla-Jayco in 2024) and the folding of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB has effectively pushed the Uzbek team up to 17th and into the third of the three wildcard spots normally reserved for the top three Continental teams in the world ranking.
Tashkent’s road to racing in the Women’s WorldTour in 2024 has not been a straightforward one and it has not yet been confirmed – several rival teams have lobbied with the UCI over the validity of some of their points-scoring results since the summer.
The wildcard allocations are yet to be made official for the 2024 season, with the UCI having told Cyclingnews that the “registration procedure is currently ongoing and a list of all obligatory invitations for the 2024 UCI WorldTour events shall be published on the UCI website at a later date” – thought to be the December 12.
Tashkent planning a limited WorldTour schedule
Tashkent geared their entire 2023 season around winning as many UCI points as possible, with the intent to earn Uzbekistan a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games road race, which they achieved comfortably.
The team, backed by the Uzbekistan government, expects the wildcard to be confirmed by the UCI. However, they are only planning to race a few WorldTour events in 2024 due to budgetary constraints, team size and a lack of cycling infrastructure.
“The finance from the government is just for Olympic medals, not for the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia,” the team’s coach, Gleb Groysman, told Cyclingnews.
“We cannot race all WorldTour races because we don’t have enough riders. We have maybe three or four girls ready to race in the WorldTour, and they are very young.
“We have a very, very hard situation because there are not enough bikes, wheels, anything…staff is problem number one. There are no professional staff there.”
It’s symptomatic of a nation that has risen through the cycling ranks at a sensational pace since Groysman took the reins as coach of the women’s national programme in 2021.
The team are hoping for additional financial support from the…