Rumours that the Velocio-SRAM team would disband at the end of the year were confirmed on Monday, when Team owner Kristy Scrymgeour announced that Velocio Sports, Scrymgeour’s management company, would cease operation of the team and Scrymgeour would be moving on.
The internet reacted in surprise and disappointment but, most of all, sadness as the team and Scrymgeour alike have been fixture in women’s cycling.
“My story is that I have been doing this a long time. And it’s definitely been a challenge, but a good challenge I think. It’s a hard decision to make, but I just felt like it is time for me to move on,” Scrymgeour told Ella CyclingTips in a phone interview.
A former professional cyclist and two-time Australian national champion, Scrymgeour has been involved in just about every side of the sport for the past 20 years. From rider to press officer to team owner, Scrymgeour has worked tirelessly to make sure female cyclists had a home in the sport and a platform from which to launch or build their career.
Her involvement in team management started in 2007 when she joined Bob Stapleton at Highroad. Initially she managed the women’s team. Eventually she moved into a communications director role across both squads. When HTC-Highroad disbanded at the end of 2011, Scrymgeour scrambled to keep the women’s team alive. Her efforts proved fruitful with the birth of the highly successful Specialized-lululemon squad.
Among the best teams in the world, Specialized-lululemon made a name for themselves by winning no less than 48 UCI races –including the team time trial at the 2012 World Championships – in its first year alone. Under Scrymgeour’s leadership, the team continued to win an additional 73 races, including two additional team time trial titles. Despite their success, the struggle for sponsorship continued and the team’s future was in limbo after the 2014 season. But Scrymgeour managed to rally public and industry support, and Specialized-lululemon became Velocio-SRAM for the 2015 season, which is proving to be yet another successful one.
Now, after nine years of running teams, Scrymgeour says it’s time to step away from team management and move on to new ventures.
“It’s always been my goal to grow the sport of women’s cycling, which I think is happening,” she said. “Bit by bit it’s getting better with new sponsors coming in, the new Women’s World Tour coming up in the future, and the help of the media and sites like Ella.”
“But I am also involved with building up two brands –[Velocio and Ally’s Bar, two companies she co-founded in 2014] – and I’m getting pulled into a lot of different directions. Both brands are still in their infancy and developing stages, and they need a lot of work. And we are excited about that,” Scrymgeour added. “It came down to having to consolidate my efforts and make the choice of what to do next year. Continuing to building [Velocio-SRAM] would also have been an exciting option, but obviously I had to make that call. And I think this was the best decision for everybody.”
The team’s future
Even with Scrymgeour’s departure from team ownership, the institution she has built may very well continue. A large part of the current operation, including sports director Beth Duryea and team manager Ronny Lauke and the majority of the riders, is rumoured to continue under new sponsorship next year.
“Obviously the girls have had a great year. We have a great team, great staff and I know everyone would like to stick together. And if Beth and Ronny can pull that off, it’s really great and I hope that it can happen,” she said. “Ronny and Beth have done a really great job managing the team, and I have a lot of respect for them. I think if they’re able to pull everything together it’s great.”
Saying goodbye, of course, is never easy.
“I have dedicated a lot of years to women’s cycling and growing the sport, so yeah, closing that chapter is sad,” Scrymgeour said. “At the same time, I will always look back at those years of working with women’s teams as something really positive. The challenge and the riders have always inspired me so that’s what I have to carry with me now.”
Scrymgeour remains committed to her team and its riders for the remainder of the season as two exciting months of racing –including the world championships –remain. And she will cheer for the riders for years to come.
Her commitment to the growth of women’s cycling hasn’t changed, however, and she plans to stay involved in the sport through the Velocio and Ally’s Bar.
“As a brand, we are obviously big supporters of women’s cycling, and that will definitely continue to be our focus,” Scrymgeour said. “I hope to continue to help grow opportunities for women in the sport in a some small way, just from a different aspect.”
Ella CyclingTips has reached out to sport director Beth Duryea for comment on the future of the team – and will continue to report as the story develops.