British rider Sophie Wright will ride for Alé BTC Ljubljana in 2021 following the closure of Equipe Paule Ka, her new team has announced.
Wright was the 2016 junior mountain bike cross-country European champion, but joined what was Cervélo-Bigla on the road in August 2018, and rode with the same team as Bigla Pro Cycling in 2019 before it became Equipe Paule Ka in 2020. However, when the budget from the new sponsor stopped being paid from August, the team was forced to announce its closure in October, leaving a dozen riders high and dry without a squad for the 2021 season.
A number of riders have since found new homes for next year: Britain’s Lizzy Banks will move to Ceratizit-WNT, while New Zealand’s Niamh Fisher-Black has signed a two-year contract with SD Worx (Boels Dolmans in 2020), and will also be joined by the Czech Republic’s Nikola Nosková.
Emma Norsgaard had already announced her move to Movistar for next year back in August, but the Dane will now be joined at the Spanish team by American teammate Leah Thomas. Wright, meanwhile, will be joined at Alé BTC Ljubljana by her 2020 teammate Marlen Reusser of Switzerland, and the 21-year-old all-rounder is already looking forward to next year with her new team.
“I chose Alé BTC Ljubljana Cipollini because I’ve experienced racing with the team in the pro peloton and they always portray a positive and professional image,” Wright said in a team press release at the weekend. “The team seems to be very well united and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone.
“I was looking to take the next step up in my cycling career for the 2021 season and beyond, so signing for my first ever WorldTour team will allow me to do so and have new opportunities, so I’m very excited for what’s to come.”
Wright said that she hopes to be able to fulfil some ambitions with her new team.
“For next season, I hope to fulfil my allocated role as best as possible, whilst also being able to grasp the opportunity to win the best young rider’s jersey in some stage races and stand on the podium for the team,” she said.
Her new team manager, Fortunato Lacquaniti, added: “Sophie is a young girl from the MTB world, but in the last two seasons she has shown great promise on the road, too.
“She knows how to work, and she has great potential and skills, especially uphill. Her choice is part of our investment programme in young athletes for the future,” she said.