Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling (also known as ‘On the Drops’) made the giant leap from domestic to pro team in 2015, but next season they will be scaling back to focus on European races.
They’ve made the decision that focusing on events closer to home will provide more return for investors in a sport where funding is tough, and will also give them a firm base to support Olympic hopefuls Laura Trott and Elinor Barker.
Team Owner Stefan Wyman explained: “Over the past twelve months we’ve seen big advances within Women’s Cycling, with the proposed introduction of the Women’s World Tour in particular.
But it’s also the case that the funding situation for teams isn’t getting any easier.
“This has led us, and our key sponsors to review what we are doing, and look for our niche within the sport that we believe will give our riders the best opportunity to progress, but will also still provide the best return on investment to the sponsor.”
Wyman went on to say: “It’s clear to us riders want to get out and win, they want to race in Europe, Belgium and Holland, and many have said to us that a pro team environment can actually restrict opportunities at times. After all, in a small team you never know too far in advance when you’re going to get race entries, if at all.”
Competition is tough – and a smaller team like Matrix will suffer against the might of larger outfits with huge names and budgets. Wyman said: “This season has also seen many smaller UCI races being dominated by mixed teams, taking away a developing rider’s opportunity to impress at the business end of the race in some cases. So we thought we’d try to find a solution.”
Sponsored by Matrix – the sports equipment company owned by Jonson Health – as well as Trek Bikes and clothing brand Millitag, the team have a roster that includes Olympic champion Laura Trott and Elinor Barker.
Matrix Fitness will aim to provide a stress-free base for the two track stars, and will also be helping to develop racing with its Rider Academy Programme. They will target races in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and France – and they will still compete in UCI level races where they are within these boundaries.
Worldwide racing isn’t off the cards – as Wyman explains: “I would like to think we will have a team which can be competitive at World Tour level in the future, when the time is right, but for now we feel this is the most valuable place for us. We can have a real impact on rider’s careers; provide a more generous package and more input to each rider. As we have seen this year our riders can progress onto UCI teams at any point with our complete blessing.”
The team has been sponsored by Johnson Health Tech brands for the last six years – and Wyman added: “This company, in my opinion, has changed the face of women’s cycling in the UK. It has given us televised racing, significantly contributed towards the formation of the Women’s Tour through its vision, and given a huge number of riders’ opportunities. I can’t really put into words my thanks to them and to Jon Johnston.”
Trek and Milltag will continue their support, but a co-sponsor is also being sought.