At 2 p.m. today, in front of the Ljubljana City Hall, the twelve cyclists of the first Slovenian women’s professional cycling team BTC City Ljubljana, which is sponsored by the BTC Company and the City Municipality of Ljubljana, were officially introduced to the public. The pro cycling team has already been invited to participate in most races organized under the auspices of UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale).
The team consists of eight Slovenians, namely Sara Frece, Urška Kalan, Špela Kern, Alenka Novak, Urša Pintar, Anja Rugelj, Polona Batagelj and Tjaša Rutar, the Croatian Mia Radotič, the Pole Eugenia Bujak, the Italian Elena Valentini and the Austrian Martina Ritter. The latter are all current time trial champions in their respective countries. The Slovenian cyclists are all top notch athletes, who have recently been winning national championships in time trials and road races.
Gorazd Penko, head coach of team BTC City Ljubljana, marked the occasion saying that the foundation of the first Slovenian women’s professional cycling team is an important step in the right direction, building on all the successes Slovenian cycling has seen until the present moment: “I’m sure that the team will have a positive effect on the development of Slovenian women’s cycling as well as women’s cycling across the globe. The project and the cyclists present us with opportunities to raise awareness about women’s cycling. I believe that this step will be followed by an increased interest in this sport, not only in its competitive but also its recreational dimension. I’m proud of the cyclists and I believe in them. They are already bringing in great results and display a healthy sense of competition, which raises their levels of motivation and heightens the quality of training.”
Jože Mermal, President of the BTC Management Board and President of the ARWC 2014 Honorary Committee, added: “The formation of the first Slovenian women’s professional cycling team is a great achievement. It represents the first stepping stones of women’s cycling in Slovenia. I am proud to see the BTC Company sponsoring a team of professional women cyclists. In a way, I see this as a tribute to this wonderful sport, which the BTC Company has now supported for 14 years, headed by the Maraton Franja BTC City. I am confident that the girls will take full advantage of our support and that they will responsibly fulfil the difficult task at hand.”
Zoran Janković, mayor of the City Municipality of Ljubljana, said: “I am extremely proud to see the first Slovenian women’s cycling team, which will this year compete at the highest international level, bear the name of Ljubljana. Cycling will surely spread the name of our beautiful city and our country all around the world, together with the message that Ljubljana is a green, sustainability-focused and healthy city, where cyclists play an important role.”
The team’s goal, whose mission is to promote women’s cycling in Slovenia, is to place among the top 20 teams in the world. The team has already been invited to participate in most races organized by UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), but in order to reach the chosen goal, the races in which the cyclists will actually participate will be chosen very carefully.
The new president of UCI, Brian Cookson, is very much in favour of bringing women’s cycling closer to the popularity of men’s cycling and has assured us that UCI will take care to organize a TV broadcast of nine races in the women’s cycling World Tour.
Maja Oven, Director of the Market Communication and Public Relations Sector
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