New Canyon // SRAM Women's Team Launches with Rapha Partnership - Total Women's Cycling

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New Canyon // SRAM Women’s Team Launches with Rapha Partnership

The team which replaces Velocio-SRAM has been unveiled with Rapha as clothing partner

The pro women’s peloton and its fans received a sad blow at the end of the 2015 season when it transpired that the world class team Velocio-SRAM would cease to be – but it was promised that the team manager Ronny Lauke would return with a new women’s World Tour Team. Today that team and its riders were unveiled.

Canyon//SRAM Racing is the newest UCI Women’s World Tour team on the block, and they’ve picked up a partnership with Rapha clothing, who will end their relationship with the men’s team, Team Sky at the end of 2016.

Joining the roster will be UK rider Hannah Barnes – the 22-year-old who raced last year for United Healthcare and won the final stage of the Women’s Tour along with Australian Tiffany Cromwell who continues her relationship having raced for Velocio-SRAM in 2015.

Tiffany and Hannah at the launch in London

Lisa Brennauer, Trixi Worrack and Mieke Kröger from Germany are all listed on the roster, as well as Alexis Ryan, Barbara Guarischi, Elena Cecchini, and Alena Amialiusik.

Director Ronny Lauke will pair up with Director Sportif Beth Duryea to manage the team, with Duryea focusing on Marketing and Communications.

The team’s website wmncycling.com is now live and they state inspiring more women to ride and furthering the sport as key aims.  They want women to get involved, sharing their reactions and riding stories with #TakeTheLead.

As well as allowing riders to focus on qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the team will compete in the full World Tour Calendar. They’ll specifically target the Amgen Tour of California and Philadelphia Cycling Classic in the USA, the Aviva Women’s Tour, and La Course.

Tiffany Cromwell at the launch in London

The assault upon 2016 will begin with Tiffany Cromwell racing the Australian national championships road race in January, and Santos Women’s Tour on January 16. Their first full team appearance will be at the Ladies Tour of Qatar on February 2-5.

 “Cycling here is so huge that when you have a UK brand involved with a team you get more mainstream interest.”

We chatted to Cromwell at the launch about the team – and she said:  “I was one of the first ones to know [about the new team] … now seeing it all come together is really exciting.  The brands that we have on board are amazing – Canyon has just skyrocketed – and Rapha obviously, being with Team Sky has just exploded too.  Cycling here is so huge that when you have a UK brand involved with a team you get more mainstream interest. We want to get into that mainstream audience and with them on board I think we can do that.”

She also hopes having a brand with fashion in its blood will aid women’s interest – explaining: “If you can combine [cycling] with fashion, women will say ‘I want to do that because I feel good, I look good’ – they learn more about the sport.  They learn more about the riders, you get more ambassadors and role models for the sport, and we’re getting more and more of that. It’s exciting, giving women something to look up to.”

“The newer nations are like ‘men or women, we don’t care – we love it, it’s cycling sports, its freedom’, and that has brought excitement to the sport.”

Cromwell says that from the inside, women’s cycling is clearly on the increase and has grown rapidly in just a few years: “I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, and 100% it’s growing – it’s really been these last couple of years where I’ve seen a big change.

“Before it was a very old school sport with the Italians, the French, the Belgians, now with riders such as Bradley Wiggins the Anglophobe [English Speaking] World has become more interested. And the newer nations are like ‘men or women, we don’t care – we love it, it’s cycling sports, it’s freedom’, and that has brought excitement to the sport.”

She sees social media as a major contributor, too – saying: “It has made it a lot more accessible – people can make a connection without seeing an athlete in a magazine or on TV. We can share our personalities – people see profiles and say ‘we want to follow them’, and they know them as a personality as well as an athlete.”

All of this change makes Cromwell’s career more exciting for her – validating her choices – and she said: “Now people can actually watch me race – too. Coming from Australia my friends and family can’t be at my races all the time, they want to see me race but you have to explain to them ‘this race, I’m doing, but you can’t see it’. Having that push to be on TV really excites me.”

This year, much of her focus will be on the Rio Olympics, and races that will help her qualify for the Australian team as well as Canyon // SRAM performances.

Also with an eye on the Olympics, Hannah Barnes will be joining her most high profile team yet. She explained: “Going to America [to race with United Healthcare] was a big step, I was like ‘Oh My God, America!’ and at the time it was the right thing to do. And now I’ve developed and got more confident. My aim for the year was to get onto a European team – and to get on to this one is really cool. And all the sponsors we have now are probably the best we could ask for.”

“The riders are the most successful I’ve been on a team with, I’m going to just try to learn everything I can.”

She hopes to learn a lot – and said: “We’ve got the best Team Time Trial team in all the world, my Time Trial is probably the weakest so I’d like to improve and I’ll be learning from the best. The riders are the most successful I’ve been on a team with, I’m going to just try to learn everything I can.”

Barnes joins the team with existing teamie, Alexis Ryan – but doesn’t know many other riders first hand. She said: “I’m looking forward to our team camp late this year, and meeting everyone  you don’t really ‘meet’ at a race.”

The 22-year-old has her eyes on Rio, and said: “Being an Olympic year, everyone’s main goals are there –I’d like to be in the team, having Lizzie [Armitstead] as World Champion I think is really cool and I want to be there to see what GB can do.”

Lauke said at a press conference today: “Women’s sport is very dynamic. We want to take a approach things differently – to be accessible as a team, the riders are just humans and we want people and fans to feel they can talk to them. Beside that, of course we want to win!”

He added: “We look forward to the journey ahead – it feels really good already.”

The team will be competing aboard top of the range Canyon Ultimate CF SLX road bikes and hyperaero Canyon Speedmax time trial machines.

Canyon//SRAM have signed a three year deal with Rapha clothing who will supply the riders with specially designed race wear based on the Souplesse collection, while also outfitting staff and racers off the bike in Rapha’s City collection.

The team will help Rapha to test and develop their women’s kit, as was the case with their high profile relationship with Team Sky. They’ll receive a custom fit for their race gear whilst at a training camp in Majorca from December 8 to 20.

Simon Mottram, Rapha founder and CEO said: “The world-class riders, team management and cutting-edge partners, will further elevate our product design and performance, and help us develop the finest racing and riding products for women.”

For Canyon, transferring their success and experience to women’s cycling is a key goal. Chief Brand Officer, Frank Aldorf said: “We believe in racing and we believe in women‘s cycling. Canyon has the tools to make great riders and our knowledge is that of a performance partner. We will be behind Ronny and the team every step of the way. It’s very exciting to have such a fantastic line-up of riders and partners that together will push women’s racing to the next level.”

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