Trek Factory Racing has made a fantastic new investment into women’s cycling that could help move the bar even higher for our sport. They already sponsor a men’s WorldTour team, but this will be the first time they are the sole sponsor of a women’s road team. More importantly, Trek is making this investment as a long-term commitment to help increase the participation of women in cycling, and to help women’s racing touch more fans world-wide.
Trek’s Director of Sports Marketing, Tim Vanderjeugd, reached out to The Cyclists’ Alliance before the team’s announcement to talk about women’s cycling and the Factory Racing project. Vanderjeugd and his colleague, Emily Bremer, who is Trek’s global women’s marketing manager, spent a lot of time planning the team over the past two years.
Many women racing today are very familiar with the Trek co-sponsored DROPS team, which is registered in the UK and competes in the Women’s WorldTour. Trek has gained a lot of experience and knowledge from this rider development-focused team, but Bremer and Vanderjeugd have also performed market analysis on women’s racing broadcasts on television and the internet. And importantly for the Alliance, their exposure to our survey in 2017 helped them to better understand the support riders really need to be successful professionals. As the result of all of Trek’s research, they have created something new to compete in global women’s road cycling.
Bremer has described the three main goals for the program. First, it will be a great team with an atmosphere and career opportunities that athletes want to join, with a proper living wage for compensation, the operational support any rider should expect in a pro team, and the support of personnel and resources expected of a high performance racing program. Second, it will be a program that all fans of pro racing want to support and that will inspire women around the world to enjoy cycling. And third, it will make women’s racing better with great role models that sets the example for what the riders deserve.
Bremer is excited to have women professionals participate in an innovative women’s outreach program that is connected to Trek’s dealer regions around the world. She says that the team’s riders will visit these stores during stops on the WWT calendar to improve marketing and to engage directly with women who want to enjoy cycling. “We see this project as a shift towards celebrating women as professional athletes,” says Bremer. “We want to be a catalyst to change how the sport of cycling sees its female athletes.”
Other than 2015 World Champion (and current Alliance member) Lizzie Deignan, other riders rumored to be joining the Trek Factory Racing team won’t be confirmed until later this summer. The Alliance is very excited at the possibilities, because the team’s WorldTour focus means that some of our best colleagues could be wearing Trek jerseys next season! Luca Guercilena, the current General Manager of the men’s team, will also be in charge of the women’s team.
Bremer and Vanderjeugd will soon announce the team’s Director Sportif, but we have been told it is an important and well-respected person who will be instantly recognizable in the women’s sport. “The women we’ve approached and who have already signed for our team are among the best we've ever seen, and we want to help them achieve new heights,” says Vanderjeugd.
The Alliance hopes that Trek’s investment and commitment encourages even more sponsors and brands to follow, but from what Vanderjeugd shared with us last week, they at least hope to set a new tone for sponsorship in our sport. Changes are coming, with a two-tier Women’s WorldTour system approved for next year, and new rules for ethics which we helped the UCI to define. But Trek’s new team could set a standard which sits in perfect harmony with the Alliance’s mission: to help women’s racing be viewed as an employment opportunity and professional commitment for women athletes, and not just as a labor of love.
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