Human Powered Health expand women’s WorldTour team after demise of men’s squad

Daria Pikulik won the first stage of the Women's Tour Down Under
Daria Pikulik won the first stage of the Women's Tour Down Under (Image credit: Getty Images)

Human Powered Health has shifted focus from its men’s ProTeam to the development of its women’s WorldTour team for 2024, with new riders and staff joining the squad as they attempt to expand in scope, size, and capability amidst the rapid growth of the women’s professional racing scene.

The men’s Human Powered Health team was not part of the list of 17 ProTeams that have registered for the 2024 season, while the women’s team is amongst the 16 hoping to secure the 15 WorldTour places. Human Powered Health women's team are likely to hold onto their spot after moving up to WorldTour level in 2022.

News of the demise of the men’s team emerged in late August, while the Human Powered Health women’s team have made their ambitions clear for 2024 and signed former world champion Giorgia Bronzini as a new directeur sportif. 

Bronzini will work alongside Clark Sheehan after he worked with the men’s team. “On a team with female athletes, it is important to have women in leadership roles and in the entourage on race day,” General Manager Ro De Jonckere said.

De Jonckere explained the team's desire to capitalise on the growth of women’s professional cycling. 

“It has been an unprecedented period of expansion, highlighted by the return of a women’s Tour de France in 2022 after a 30-year hiatus,” said De Jonckere. 

“The growth of races, media coverage, and rider salaries for women in this sport was long overdue, and we see a great foundation to build upon from here.”

Human Powered Health took 14 victories in 2023 and bookended the season with the opening and closing WorldTour win through Daria Pikulik as the Pole won the opening stage of the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Guangxi one-day race.

The team’s new signings for 2024 include Ruth Edwards, née Winder, one of the most decorated cyclists of the 2010s. She makes her return to the WorldTour after initially retiring in 2021. “This is an exciting new adventure for me,” the 30-year-old said. 

“I don’t think I had a plan necessarily. I was just really missing it, and it has been fun to watch women’s cycling grow, and for me in particular, I thought I’d just rather live without any regrets.”

Edwards took wins at the Giro d’Italia, Tour Down Under and Brabantse Pijl before her retirement, with the growth in quality, funding and frequency of women’s Grand Tours playing a part in her return.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to race the biggest events,” she said. “The Giro d’Italia Donne is also getting bigger, and there’s now a true Vuelta a España, so the calendar has changed a lot in the last two years in a really cool way.”

Edwards won Brabantse Pijl ahead of the most recent Tour de France Femmes winner and now-dominant Demi Vollering (SD Worx), with the team hoping she can return to previous levels of performance and lead their GC ambitions.

“The level is super high now, but she believes she can do it,” said Kenny Latomme, the team Performance Manager.

“Two years ago, she was always close to Vollering in the results, but we will see in the early season, and then she will be our GC leader.”

Vollering and SD Worx is the standard the team is aiming for as they try to compete with the very best. The Dutch team were exemplary in 2023, taking the vast majority of wins at big races through Vollering and World Champion Lotte Kopecky.

“When we founded our women’s team in 2012, we aspired to compete at the highest levels of the sport,” said team managing director Charles Aaron.

“Since then, women’s cycling has grown tremendously. It’s something we have always believed in. Moving forward, we aim to advance our Women’s WorldTeam to stand among the very best in the world.”

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