The Wiggle Honda women’s pro team was formally unveiled in London this morning, at a glitzy launch in Millbank Tower.
The team includes Commonwealth Games road race winner Rochelle Gilmore, who is also the squad’s owner-manager; 2011 and 2010 world champion Georgia Bronzini and several of Britain’s brightest rising stars, Joanna Rowsell MBE, Laura Trott OBE, Dani King MBE, Elinor Barker and Amy Roberts.
The team is the culmination of a seven-year dream for Gilmore, who said she has long been frustrated by the lack of support for women’s teams. She cited the example of one team she’d ridden for who had been expected to travel across Europe for 13 hours the day before a race, and arrived at their hotel after midnight too late for dinner. “When we performed badly, the management said it must be because of the way we were training, but I knew we were in great form and it would have been different if hey’d put us in a hotel for a couple of days instead of trying to save money."
Gilmore’s ambition is to run a team that properly looks after its athletes and with the backing of Wiggle and Honda that looks eminently doable; neither organisation can exactly afford to do things by halves.
Gilmore said she’d been helped in getting the team together by Team Sky mastermind David Brailsford as well as top coach Shane Sutton and Sky’s Fran Millar. With backing like that, she’s unsurprisingly ambitious.
“We’re aiming for World Cup wins and I think a world championship with Georgia is not impossible this year. With the young track riders we can put a lead-out train together that should help win lots of races," she said. The team will target the one-day classics and sprint finishes to ease the transition for the track specialists who are crossing over to the road.
Bronzini’s face lit up at the idea of netting a third world championship, especially as this year’s race is in Florence, not far from her home town of Piacenza.
For the team’s main sponsor, Wiggle chairman Andy Bond said that Wiggle wants to encourage all types of cycling, but especially women’s cycling. Jamie Fuller, of clothing sponsor Skins said he felt women’s cycling had been “abysmally neglected. We are changing that."
Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell said they were looking forward to racing on the road as part of a team. Both have previously said that they preferred riding the track, but the atmosphere of the new team seems to have inspired them, along with the idea of not having to hit the road on their own.
This was a very upbeat launch. Gilmore and her team are determined to raise the standard of women’s racing and they’re pulled in an impressive array of sponsors: Colnago C59 bikes; Campagnolo Super Record electric components; fizik shoes and saddles; Deda components and Continental tyres to name but a few. As Gilmore put it, “I want everyone who races against us to feel that they have to have the best equipment in order to compete. None of the sponsors have said no to anything I’ve asked for."
Team roster & Twitter handles
Amy Roberts (Great Britain) - @AmyRoberts94
Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier (Germany) - @AnaSchnitzmeier
Beatrice Bartelloni (Italy) - @beatricebartell
Danielle (Dani) King (Great Britain) - @DaniKing1
Elinor Barker (Great Britain) - @elinorbarker
Emily Collins (New Zealand) - @EmilyCollins_NZ
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) - @GiorgiaBronzini
Rochelle Gilmore (Australia) - @RochelleGilmore
Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan)
Lauren Kitchen (Australia) - @LaurenKitchen1
Laura Trott (Great Britain) - @LauraTrott31
Joanna Rowsell (Great Britain) - @JoannaRowsell Great Britain
Follow the Wiggle Honda team at www.wigglehonda.com