The new-look team that’s helping cyclocross stars make it on the road
As the Women’s WorldTour heads to northern Europe for a flurry of big one-day races, a new-look Belgian team has entered the fray.
Launched Wednesday, the Plantur-Pura Cycling Team is set to make its 2021 debut at Thursday’s Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne, headlined by former cyclocross world champions Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Sanne Cant.
Plantur-Pura isn’t a new team exactly. It was founded as Ciclismo Mundial last year by Belgian brothers Philip and Christoph Roodhoft, managers of the Alpecin-Fenix road and cyclocross setup (where Alvarado does her CX racing). The goal of the team was to give cyclocross stars the chance to race on the road in summer, to supplement the cross racing they do in the colder months.
“We expect women’s cycling to continue to evolve in the coming years,” said Philip Roodhooft when the team was created last year. “If you do not want to lag behind, it is necessary to be able to offer our ladies a full road program. That was a problem so far. Starting up a Continental team eliminates that problem. And hopefully we will stay one step ahead of the competition.”
Alvarado is perhaps the most exciting prospect on the roster. As she told CyclingTips late last year, she’s keen to race more on the road in the coming years. And already she’s shown some good signs – she was 12th overall and finished top-10 on two stages at last year’s Tour de l’Ardeche.
Despite only taking part in a handful of races last year, Ciclismo Mundial did have some minor success with Dutchwoman Inge van der Heijden winning the UCI 1.2 Trophée des Grimpeuses ahead of teammate Yara Kastelijn. In 2021, now known as Plantur-Pura, the team has bigger goals on the horizon.
After Thursday’s WorldTour race in De Panne, the team is due to line up at Gent-Wevelgem (another WWT race), Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders (also WWT), the first-ever women’s Scheldeprijs, and the first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix (another WWT, assuming it goes ahead).
As some fans have pointed out, spotting Plantur-Pura riders in the bunch might prove a little challenging at times. While the team’s new kit is navy blue with pink highlights, it’s not too dissimilar to the purple of both SD Worx and Liv Cycling. Picking those two teams apart has already proven tricky this season, and adding another similar colour palette to the mix could make things harder again.
The 2021 Plantur-Pura roster is 14 riders strong and is backed by German caffeine shampoo brand Plantur (the sister brand of Alpecin), and Dutch architectural materials brand Pura NFC. Plantur was previously a naming sponsor of the team now known as DSM when it raced as Liv-Plantur in 2015 and 2016.