There had been plenty to take care of during the winter in the middle of Jutland in 2013. A planned women’s team for 2014 on the other side of the Great Belt folded before it had even started, but way beyond deadline it was still possible to put a DCU (club team) together around Mejrup Cykelklub, where the club’s sponsor BMS stepped up, and thus the team Team BMS Ladies was ready for its first season.
The four riders Marie Julie Hansen, Camilla Møllebro Pedersen, Karen Gjendal and Mia Lacota rode mainly in the Danish A-races, and it was often with great success. During the spring, the four riders took several victories and podium finishes, and the success brought more success.
Towards one of the season’s big goals the Danish national championships in Faaborg, the team took in three more riders. Experienced Iben Bohé, talented Marie Schousboe Vilmann and the Swede Kristina Morin joined the team, and they helped creating more good results.
Camilla Møllebro Pedersen made the biggest results for the team in 2014, when she did a great ride and finished 3rd at the Danish ITT championships and she could take a bronze medal. In the road race it was 6th and 7th for her and Marie Julie Hansen when they finished with the front group.
During summer the success of Team BMS Ladies continued as they first went on to the Swedish 6-day stage race in Tidaholm, where Camilla Møllebro Pedersen took the overall victory and where the team also won the team competition. A month later, the team took a big step up.
The team started its first UCI race, when they beside several of the world’s best riders were part of the newly started Norwegian stage race Ladies Tour of Norway. Camilla Møllebro Pedersen impressed once again when she was placed 15th in the prologue, which was a position she kept in GC throughout the race.
It was therefore a nice debut season for the little team, and during the offseason work was done to make both the environment and the team even better.
For the 2015 season, the company Birn joined the team changing its name to Team BMS Birn. The focus remained on developing Danish Women’s cycling, and with Birn’s involvement it gave the opportunity for the team to attach more riders and participate in more and more international races.
On the rider side it was an exciting team for 2015. Three Swedish Riders with Alexandra Nessmar in the lead joined the team and also Dane Rikke Lønne joined. The silver medalist at the junior ITT World Championship 17-year old Pernille Mathiesen also joined the team despite only being in her 2nd year as a junior, but she was ready to get her feet wet in the senior ranks.
During spring, Team BMS Birn continued to perform great on the Danish roads, where they often fought for the victory – and took it several times. In the international UCI race, however, competition was somewhat harder, as it was often some of the best riders in the sport that they were up against.
However, the team gained important experience in the many Belgian spring classics they attended, where Camilla Møllebro Pedersen and Alexander Nessmar was responsible for the best results with 15th place in Trofee Marten Wynants and 17th in Gent-Wevelgem.
Over the summer, the hopes became even higher. Team BMS Birn took their first TTT Danish title, and shortly after Rikke Lønne won the Danish ITT-championship in front of Camilla Møllebro Pedersen, Pernille Mathiesen took care of the junior title, and subsequently the team placed all five Danish riders in the top 10 in the road race.
In the Dutch stage race BeNe Ladies Tour Camilla Møllebro Pedersen took the team’s first UCI-top 10 place as she was 7th on the ITT and finished 8th in GC and 22-year-old Marie Schousboe Vilmann also rose to the challenge as she was 13th in the stage race Lotto Belgium Tour.
With several international starts boosting the morale, the team was ready to take another step up, and during the fall of 2015 the team began preparing to ride its first season as a UCI team in 2016.
With nine riders on the team, team BMS Birn was ready for its first season as an UCI team. For 2016, the team also got some new quality riders as some of the best young Danish riders had joined. Among others was former Junior World Championship-bronze medalist Christina Siggaard along with former junior world championship silver medalist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
Team BMS Birn started out in the Belgian spring classics, where Camilla Møllebro Pedersen already in the second race weekend made sure the team got its first UCI-points when she was 10th in Pajot Hills Classic. A few weeks later, the team also got its first UCI-Victory when Pernille Mathiesen in her first senior season rode solo to the top on stage 4 in Gracia Orlova ahead of Marie Schousboe Vilmann who was 3rd and also finished 6th in GC.
At the Danish National Championship, the team repeated the triumph from the year before by winning gold in the TTT, before the team’s youngest rider Simone Eg took the ITT Danish National Championship gold for juniors and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig did it for the elite. And the 20-year-old Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig continued to show her potential during summer.
In Tour de Feminin she won stage 1 and grabbed the leader’s jersey firmly, before she cemented her overall victory when she also won stage 5 of the race. Later she also won the mountain jersey in the Tour of Norway and in Plumelec she put the took another step up when she won silver at the U23 European Championships road race. Christina Siggaard had also found her level in the fall when she finished on the podium on stage 3 of Ladies Tour of Norway and finished on 4th place in GC.
In all Team BMS Birn performed well in its first season as a UCI team, and with a place on the world ranking as number 24, they managed to pull off the best Danish result for many years.
Although the season was over, big things happened in the organization of the team. At the beginning of November, Riis Seier Project (now Virtu Cycling Group) announced that the group took over the team, so it became part of a series of cycling-related brands that also includes a men’s continental team.
For the remainder of 2016, the team changed its name for Team Virtu Pro – VéloCONCEPT Women and more new international names were revealed with the goal of creating a World Tour team with Danish roots for 2017.
From the beginning of January, Team Virtu Pro – VéloCONCEPT Women was changed to Team VéloCONCEPT Women. The team had taken a very big step up as it for the first time ever was part of the World Tour. It also meant that there was a big change in the riders on the team. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marie Schousboe Vilmann had been given the opportunity to sign with Cervélo-Bigla, but there were several new strong riders instead to complement the Danish core.
The ITT world champion, American Amber Neben, was one of the new profiles together with her countrywoman Carmen Small, and in all the team had become quite international with 13 riders from seven different nations. For more of the riders it was their first season on a World Tour team, and therefore it was important to settle in to begin.
Christina Siggaard made some decent results among others a 5th place in Pajot Hills Classic, but Team VéloCONCEPT Womens spring season had a big setback as the supposed leader Carmen Small crashed in her second race and hurt her head so badly, that it put an end to her season before it really started.
Slowly the team began to settle in at the highest level of the sport, and Christina Siggaard took the team’s first World Tour-points in Tour of Chongming Island through several top rankings and she finished in 5th place in the GC. Camilla Møllebro Pedersen was also riding well and she grabbed the mountains jersey in Tour of Zhoushan Island a few days later.
June was also a very good month for the team. In Ovo Energy Women’s Tour Sara Penton and Christina Siggaard took several World Tour-points before the team took the third Danish TTT-title in a row. Then the national medals came in a steady stream. First Shani Bloch-Davidov won the Israeli ITT-championship, then Pernille Mathiesen and Louise Norman Hansen was 2nd and 3rd at the Danish ITT Championships and two days later the team took three jerseys.
Camilla Møllebro Pedersen became Danish road race-champion, Sara Penton became Swedish road race-champion and Amber Neben became American ITT-champion, and the day after she did it again as she won the road race as well.
Team VéloCONCEPT Women added to the team in the middle of the season when the former ITT world champion Linda Villumsen joined. Her first race was Giro Rosa, where she, despite a half year without professional cycling, finished in a fine 21st place.
The New Zealand-rider continued performing well by finishing 12th in Ladies Tour of Norway and later 5th in Boels Rental Ladies Tour, where the strong rider also too the teams first World Tour-podium when she was 3rd on stage 3.
In early September, Riis Seier Project became Virtu Cycling Group when Jan Bech Andersen entered the circle of owners in the group. The team therefore also changed its name to Team Virtu Cycling for the remainder of the season, which only included a few races.
However, in new uniforms the team made its debut at the TTT world championships and despite a mechanical for Amber Neben Team Virtu Cycling finished 5th, and in the world ranking the team improved its 2016 season by finishing in 21st place.