Spanish cycling has been typically dominated by the men in the past, they are consistently one of the top performing nations in the world, whilst the women are rarely amongst the best on a global scale.
The Spanish women rank 14th in the world, mostly off the back of solid performances from Sheyla Gutierrez (Cylance Pro Cycling), whilst the men are currently 4th and are regular finishers on top of the rankings.
According to the Movistar press release, one of the main aims of the squad is to correct some of the imbalance between the male and female arms of the sport, both at an elite and grassroots level.
"The birth of this squad is a boost from Telefónica and Abarca Sports to the strength of women's cycling in Spain, committed to offer Spanish riders the best conditions possible to compete in the international peloton, with the same equipment the men's team uses.
"Movistar will also collaborate with the Spanish Cycling Federation into several projects to foster grassroots cycling in the country, aiming to reach 1.9 million women on bikes in the future. An official statement from the Federation considers “this project will revitalise women's cycling as a whole in Spain, offering more visibility to both races and sportswomen and attracting new sponsors.”
Movistar may have difficulty attracting a quality squad, with most World Tour riders having already secured contracts for next season. The late announcement of the team means that a number of Spanish riders, who Movistar would hope comprise the bulk of their squad may not be able to ride with the team this coming season.
With the move, Movistar join the growing list of men's World Tour teams that also have a women's squad. Orica-Scott, Team Sunweb, FDJ, Lotto Soudal and Cannondale-Drapac (connected to womens team Cylance), all have a strong presence in women's cycling.