Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Zaaf loses UCI team status after eighth cyclist leaves team

The Spanish women’s team’s roster fell below the minimum requirement, with riders leaving amidst accusations of unpaid wages

Zaaf Cycling Team has lost its Continental licence after Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed became the eighth cyclist to quit the Spanish team within a month, which left it with just seven riders, below the governing body UCI’s minimum requirement of eight, after reports of the team not paying wages emerged.

In what has been in the making for a few weeks now, UCI has revoked the women team’s status for the next competitions now, just days after it pulled out of La Vuelta Femenina, the first proper stage race of the season due to begin this Monday.

Yesterday, UCI issued the following message: “Please be informed, that according to the UCI Regulations (Part 2 - Road Races - art. 2.17.004), a UCI Women's Continental team must have a minimum of 8 riders. Since ZAAF Cycling Team does not currently meet the requirements for registration as a UCI Women's Continental team, the team has been removed from the list of registered teams.”

The Spanish squad had suffered a mass exodus in recent weeks amidst accusations of not paying salaries or expenses since the start of the season. Several members of the team had approached the Spanish Federation to inform them and access the bank guarantee submitted by Zaaf in order to retrieve the missing payments.

The team had been under investigation since March, and some of its cyclists had reportedly planned to stage a protest at Gent-Wevelgem by not starting the race. The Cyclists’ Alliance, the union representing professional women’s peloton had also been supporting the riders.

The UCI last month allowed the team’s riders to look for new teams, after French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot – who was also one of the high-profile casualties of the ill-fated B&B Hotels project over the winter –  terminated her contract to join Human Powered Health ahead of Paris Roubaix.

The exodus also included Canadian national champion Maggie Coles-Lyster, as well as Lucie Jounier and Mareille Meijerin, who signed for Coop-Hitec Products and Movistar respectively.

> Under-pressure Zaaf team pull out of women’s Vuelta

Two weeks ago, L'Équipe reported that the team had missed out on an invitation to Tour de France Femmes, with race director Marion Rousse stating “we couldn’t condone having a team at the start that didn’t pay its girls”.

And earlier this week, Vuelta organisers Unipublic confirmed that Zaaf’s management opted to pull out of the week-long race and the beleaguered team won’t be lining up at the start in Torrevieja — the first edition since its expansion from the men’s race.

Now, the team which started the season with 15 riders, is down to just seven after the latest resignation of Egyptian cyclist Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed. There were also reports this week which included allegations that the team had been short staffed as well as lacking bikes and other equipment.

> Women's Tour cancelled for 2023, organisers cite lack of financial backing

The team is still on track to ride in the reVolta one-day race today in Catalonia, and will participate in the Itzulia Basque Country women’s race, which it could still race as a club side, despite losing its Continental license.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

Latest Comments