Ineos Grenadiers Lacks a Full Women’s Team, But That Could Change Soon
From their time as Team Sky, Ineos Grenadiers has always been known to be at the vanguard of bike racing. Armed with one the sport’s biggest budgets and demonstrating an ability and interest in searching out the most modern in training and technologies, Ineos Grenadiers is often one of the teams that paves the way for everyone else.
However, one arena in which they’ve long been lacking is their involvement in women’s racing.
That’s about to change… maybe.
In response to a recent interview in which the British team’s off-road pro Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, told Cycling Weekly that she hopes to return to her roots as a road racer, Ineos deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said the team is open to the idea of launching a women’s team in the near future.
The 31-year-old Ferrand-Prévot won a road racing world championship in 2014 before shifting her focus to mountain biking, gravel, and cross racing. Across all disciplines, she has amassed ten world titles. She joined Ineos in October of 2022, becoming their only female rider.
“I come from road racing originally, so of course I’d like to return to the road one day,” Ferrand-Prévot said, before adding that she’ll first focus on next summer’s Paris Olympics, where she’ll be competing in the cross-country mountain biking event.
“We’re certainly looking at (adding a women’s team) moving forward,” Ellingworth said. “Obviously bringing Pauline in at the back end of last year, purposefully bringing Pauline in to support her in her Olympic mountain bike campaign.”
The conversation around an Ineos Grenadiers women’s team goes back a few years at least, however. In 2021, former Team Sky CEO Fran Millar admitted that the team explored options to start a women’s team after the 2012 London Olympics. According to Millar, that plan was rejected at the “board level” and had much to do with marketing reasons. At the time, Millar admitted the decision should have been handled differently.
“Not seizing that opportunity was, with hindsight, an oversight,” Millar said. “There was a generation of young women that did miss out. Lizzie (Deignan) had to blaze her own trail, as have many others.”
Since those London games, women’s cycling has made massive strides. With women’s editions of some of the world’s most famous and beloved cycling races like Strade Bianche Donne, La Vuelta Femenina, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes becoming art of the regular calendar, a more robust landscape for teams has grown over the last decade.
Perhaps the two biggest—the introduction of a women’s edition of Paris-Roubaix in 2021 and the launch of the Tour de France Femmes in 2022—have already had noticeable impact on women’s cycling.
Meanwhile, since Ineos was founded in 2010 as Team Sky, some of their biggest rivals like Movistar, Jumbo-Visma, and Trek-Segafredo have launched their own women’s teams, enjoying massive successes.
But despite all of its newfound interest, women’s racing still faces a regular series of financial hurdles. We need to look no further than a few weeks ago, when the UK stage race Women’s Tour announced it was canceling this year’s edition due to a lack of funding.
Maybe a team with pockets as deep and one as innovative as Ineos Grenadiers can help bolster the foundation of the women’s World Tour.
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