The road for equality in women’s cycling may be a long one, but it will get there eventually. We look into why we’ve renewed our sponsorship of Matrix Pro Cycling women’s team.
It’s a struggle that is felt not just in cycling but across many sports. The simple fact is that, across the board, men’s sports are better supported than women’s. Although women’s cycling is fighting a great battle, the road to equality is long. This is not going to change anytime soon if the teams continue to struggle to get funding. An issue felt across many teams and the main reason listed for Dame Sarah Storey’s team Podium Ambition gave after folding at the end of 2016 after just one year racing.
Funding has become more and more competitive within women’s cycling. Whilst it is fantastic to see more and more women’s squads launching, they are all fighting for the same pot of cash.
This is a struggle that is not unfamiliar for Matrix Pro Cycling. Uniquely however, the team has secured funding from their lead sponsor, Matrix Pro Fitness for the fifth consecutive year. We’ve been involved with the team since 2015 and we’re really excited to be continuing our support into 2017 for the squad.
Matrix Pro Cycling at their 2016 launch event
Matrix Pro Cycling took a step back in 2016 when they decided not to register as a UCI pro team. Instead they kept their races within the European circuit with the aim of helping to develop riders, give them confidence and allow them to move into a pro team, as Alice Cobb did in 2016.
For 2017, Matrix have decided not to compete with the increasingly crowded UK race team circuit but instead to create a squad with a roster of experienced and new riders who will use the structure as a platform to help develop the individuals to best suit their needs – whether that be movement into a pro team or to allow a focus on an Olympic programme, for example.
Team manager Stefan Wyman explained to us that over the past year, while the squad has been outside the pro schedule of road racing, they have been supporting junior riders and Olympic stars alike and this has allowed them to pinpoint exactly that they are looking to achieve moving forward.
“Until now we have been a pure racing team fulfilling a full race program with riders with mixed skill sets within a professional environment. Those elements combined with our work off the bike allow us to provide the investment return our partners need to justify their continued support. These additional activities have included our involvement in events, either directly or via partnerships with team sponsors, leading to the creation of the televised criterium series the Matrix Fitness GP.
“It has become clear that developing riders for strong international UCI teams is a far greater goal for us and we are now looking at forging development pathways for riders in two ways:
- Creating sustainable links to leading professional teams, and being able to provide those teams with World Tour level riders that match the skill set they are looking for.
- Continue putting the best riders we can into our set up, and giving them the highest support available in all the areas they can get, to allow them to move up to the right team.
These two clear branches of our operation mean that going forward we will be moving away from the traditional racing team format, and creating a ‘performance centre’ environment, where we focus on fewer riders, with each rider having a far greater input from us into a fully customised program.”
With our training facilities in southern France, as well as in Belgium, we have options as to where we can best position riders to achieve their goals. We want to ensure our program is the most tailored structure available to aspiring female riders who will then be able to best position themselves to move up the ladder of women’s cycling.
Elinor Barker cruising to victory at Six Day Amsterdam. Photo: Bart Hazen
The team will continue working with Olympic Champions Corrine Hall, Lora Turnham, Laura Kenny (Trott) and Elinor Barker, with more rider news still due to be released. By being outside of the UCI team structure, the Matrix Pro Fitness squad will be able to continue our support for all these riders to achieve their own goals. This follows their outstanding performances in Rio, bringing home a Gold and Bronze medal.
Here’s the line up so far:
Laura Kenny CBE
Lora Fachie MBE
Corrine Hall MBE
Laurine van Riessen
Not a bad line up with a CBE, 3 MBEs, 6 Olympic Gold (and 2 silver and 2 bronze) medals and 7 UCI World Championship titles between them. And that’s just on the road and track. Helen Wyman has a phenomenally impressive list of Cyclo Cross titles to her name, and Laurine van Riessen remains the only Olympic Cyclist to have also won a medal at the Winter Olympics.
We look after all of Matrix Pro Fitness’s cycling team insurance and will be working alongside the team to help generate awareness of the squad’s performances across the season. We’re thrilled to be continuing our involvement and looking forward to an exciting year ahead. We like the flexibility of the model they are running for the riders which really lets them excel in their chosen cycling segment.
Stefan even had some nice things to say about us too:
“Working with Yellow Jersey has not only been essential, it’s been a pleasure. Making sure our riders and staff are insured correctly is something we take seriously. With YJ the process is easy, both in terms of set up and claims. It’s peace of mind knowing we are covered professionally.
“In 2017 we’ve got a big year planned, with a busy program on the road and in the velodrome. We are looking to take part in a full Matrix Fitness GP series next season, as well as major road events in Europe. It’s going to be a busy year!”