American team Sho-Air Twenty20 has chosen to forgo a UCI Continental licence and instead compete as a women’s domestic elite team under USA Cycling in 2020. Team owner Nicola Cranmer told Cyclingnews that the decision will not affect time trial world champion Chloe Dygert, who will focus only on time trials and track racing in her approach to the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"We have a very specific schedule for Chloe this year, as we do every year," Cranmer said. "She will be racing road in North America only. It’s not necessary that we are UCI, there are zero benefits to us with our schedule this year. Track and time trials will be her focus."
Dygert won double world titles in the junior women's time trial and road race in Richmond in 2015 and has since spent most of her time training and racing on the track where she is a five-time world champion. She competes during the road season for development team Sho-Air Twenty20. Up until finishing fourth place at the UCI Road World Championships last September, she had never ridden a race in Europe nor one as long as the elite women's 150km parcours in Yorkshire.
Just days prior to that road race, she dominated the individual time trial to win the world title ahead of Anna van der Breggen and former two-time champion Annemiek van Vleuten.
Dygert is a major prospect for an Olympic gold medal this summer, and has a stated goal of racing in the time trial and on the track. In fact, she told Cyclingnews that she intends to follow in her coach Kristin Armstrong’s footsteps and compete at the next six summer Olympic Games. Armstrong is a two-time world champion and three-time Olympic gold medallist in the discipline.
Cranmer's decision to forgo a UCI Continental women’s team licence was in part because of the cancellation of the Amgen Tour of California. Race organiser AEG announced in October that it would put its men's and women's WorldTour events on hiatus in 2020. The loss of the Tour of California means that there are currently no WorldTour events in the US.
The UCI Continental licence would have cost Cranmer $11,000 plus an up front $25,000 bank guarantee, but it was worth it in previous years because it allowed domestic teams to be invited to WorldTour events like the Tour of California.
A team like Sho-Air Twenty20 races primarily on the domestic scene in North America, and does not travel overseas to race in other WorldTour events during the season, so a UCI licence, at least for this year, wasn’t worth the hefty fees.
Cranmer saved roughly $35,000 in UCI fees by instead paying USA Cycling a $400 registration fee to become a Women’s Domestic Elite Team along with the $350 RaceClean fee, which will get her team into all of the events across North America.
"It wasn’t necessary to register as UCI as the only domestic race we needed the licence for was Amgen Tour of California," Cranmer said. "Our freedom as a non-UCI team gives us agility to respond to the rapidly evolving multi-surface race events, overall race calendar, sponsor models and media coverage."
Sho-Air Twenty20’s roster includes Dygert along with Jennifer Valente (USA), Jasmin Duehring (Can), Georgia Simmerling (Can) and Sofia Arreola (Mex), who will be focussing on selections for the Tokyo Olympics.
The rest of the road team includes Simone Boilard (Can), Jennifer Luebke (USA), Shayna Powless (USA), Natalia Franco (Col), Emma Grant (GBr). The team also includes mountain bike specialist Lea Davison (USA) and in Paralympic athlete Jamie Whitmore (USA).
"With five athletes heading to Tokyo our focus will be North America," Cranmer said. "Track racing plays a big part of the schedule for these athletes and the UCI Track World Championships begin at the end of February."
Sho-Air Twenty20 racing calendar
- Team camp, Tucson AZ - Feb 4-12
- Valley of the Sun Stage race - February 14-16
- Joe Martin Stage Race (UCI) - April 2-5
- Sea Otter Classic - April 16-19
- Redlands Classic - April 22-26
- Tour of the Gila (UCI) - April 29-May 3
- Winston Salem Classic (UCI) - May 23-25
- Cascade Cycling Classic - May 27-31
- Dirty Kanza (TBD Jasmin 100) - May 30
- Roll Massif - June 7
- Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder - June 17-21
- National Road Championships - June 18-21
- Chrono Kristin Armstrong (UCI) - July 10
- Boise Twilight - July 11
- Elite Track Nationals - July 20-26
- Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremonies - July 24
- SBT GRVL - August 16
- Colorado Classic (UCI) - August 27-30
- RedBull Bay Climb - Sept
- Zwift eSports Nationals - Sept
- The HEMI Gravel - Oct 3
- Mt Lemmon Gravel Grinder - Oct 31
- Spirit World 100 - Nov 5-8
- Zwift eSport World Championships (UCI) - Nov