Dame Sarah Storey's road racing team to turn professional

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Dame Sarah Storey
Dame Sarah Storey has won Paralympic gold medals in both swimming and cycling

Dame Sarah Storey's Podium Ambition road cycling team will turn professional for the start of the Women's World Tour in 2016.

Storey, 37, has raced for the team - previously known as Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International - since it launched in 2014.

Storey, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Katie Archibald are the first riders to be named in the new line-up.

"The team will be almost 100% British," said team principal Barney Storey.

"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."

Dame Sarah Storey is married to former Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey
Dame Sarah Storey is married to former Paralympic gold medallist Barney Storey

Podium Ambition becoming professional coincides with the beginning of the World Tour, the replacement for the UCI Women's Road World Cup, which ran from 1998 to 2015.

Two of the 17 events will be based in the UK - the Aviva Women's Tour and RideLondon.

In August the established Velocio-SRAM team folded because of a lack of financial support, while Matrix Vulpine - whom double Olympic champion Laura Trott rides for - are urgently seeking new sponsors to be able to compete.

"Aspiring young women who have ambitions to be road professionals in the future will now be able to see the world's best here in the UK," said Dame Sarah Storey, a six-time Paralympic cycling champion.

"This is a huge positive as we look to further develop women's cycling in Britain."

Trott previously competed for the high-profile Wiggle-Honda road racing team before her switch to Matrix Vulpine.

The 23-year-old, who won three British track cycling titles at the weekend, believes the new Tour is a positive move, but that staging more women's races alongside established men's competitions could help struggling teams.

"Women's road cycling has always been on the back foot compared to the men's with all these races that just don't get the coverage they deserve, but this is a massive step forwards," she told BBC Sport.

"However we need the coverage and although some people say don't run races alongside the men's it may help with the coverage and bring in new sponsors."

Dame Sarah Storey explains why her team will turn professional next year

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