Reflecting on 2015: The best of Ella’s first year

by Anne-Marije Rook


It’s been almost a year since the launch of Ella. And what a year it’s been!

There is a huge lack of coverage of women’s sports, cycling and otherwise. With Ella we set out to use our voice, reputation and medium to give exposure to women’s cycling and showcase its beauty and protagonists to help everyone become more knowledgeable cyclists and fans.

Mirroring the CyclingTips site but with a voice and feel of its own, Ella has been populated with everything from training tips and nutrition advice to race coverage and features about the personalities that are building women’s cycling.

We take our responsibility of meeting the demand for more and better women’s cycling content seriously, and we continue to strive to offer something for anyone who finds their way onto our home page. Almost a year in, we are proud of what we’ve accomplished thus far and extremely grateful for the readership we serve.

Thanks to the merger with BikeExchange and the expansion into the US, we have another exciting year ahead of us. But before we look ahead, we want to take this opportunity to reflect on the wonderful year we have had and leaf through our archive.

There are a multitude of articles we’ve published this year that we’re tremendously proud of, but for the purposes of this review we have selected our top articles in three categories: most read, most important despite pageviews and best personality profiles.

Starting off, these were some of our most read stories of 2016:

  • An Open Letter to Oleg Tinkov
    Editor’s note: I’m probably proudest of co-writing this article with Jessi. It was one of those moments where you just cannot remain silent and just have to say something. We were blown away by the positive feedback we received. Of course we are fully aware that this letter will have no impact on Mr. Tinkov’s behaviour, but I do take pleasure in the fact that for days on end, Mr. Tinkov’s Twitter feed blew up with criticism. So much so that he personally respond to us. More importantly, it sparked a conversation about the way women in sport are treated and the more broadernotion that women are considered weak or lesser athletes. This behaviour needs to stop and we’re not afraid to call someone out for it.
  • Don’t be that cyclist
    Verita Stewart’s take on “that cyclist” – the one who does all the small but wrong things that have a large impact on the group’s enjoyment of the ride –and how to avoid being that person.
  • Women are not small men: How gender dictates nutritional needs during training and recovery
    We consider it a major coup to have landed Osmo founder Dr. Stacy T. Sims, MSc, PhD, as a monthly columnist for Ella. Sims has contributed to the environmental exercise physiology and sports nutrition field for more than 15 years as both an athlete and a scientist. Her first column on women’s dietary needs was highly informational and popular with our readers.
  • Café Etiquette 101
    Another Verita Stewart tips-driven piece with valuable lessons for all of us who like to end our rides at a coffee shop.
  • How to get ride-ready in 15 minutes
    In an effort to get enough sleep while also getting up early to train before work, Verita Stewart developed some impressive habits that allow her to get out the door for her training ride 15 minutes following her early morning alarm. These are her tips.
  • How To: Talk like a cyclist
    When you’re new to riding or racing, cycling lingo can feel like a foreign language. This handy guide will help you understand the cyclists that surround and learn to sound like one, too.

As an online business, pageviews are important but articles with impact are far more important to us. There are a number of stories we published throughout the year that, to us, were important no matter how many or few reads they received.  Here’s a small selection:

  • Inside the business of women’s cycling
    How much do female cyclists get paid? Should there be a minimum wage? What does it mean to be “pro” – athletes and managers discuss these topics and more.
  •  Racing for last place
    At Ella we are committed to inspiring as many people as possible to fall in love with cycling just like we have. There are many avenues to fall in love with cycling and this particular article discusses the many reasons to give racing a go, even (especially?) if it means coming in last.
  • Can your period affect your performance
    Does your menstrual cycle have an effect on athletic performance? Should you consider your menstrual cycle in planning your training or racing schedule? As women, we all have these questions but we don’t know who to ask. We are here to ask these questions for you.
  • Behind the lens with Balint Hamvas: “The biggest revelation for me is how awesome women’s road racing is.”
    We have had the privilege of using Balint Hamvas’ beautiful photography to help us tell the stories of various women’s races this year. From the Ronde van Drenthe to the Giro Rosa to La Course, his photos tell a story our words never could.

We are committed to raising the profile of women’s cycling and helping our readers become knowledgeable fans. With few opportunities to watch the events live, we want to not only give you quality race coverage but also to introduce you to some of the peloton’s main characters and role models. Here’s a small selection:

  •  The slow but steady return to racing for Marianne Vos
    Multi world champion Marianne Vos suffered a hamstring injury in December 2014 and was sidelined for month, missing the start of the 2015 road season. Back in April, Vos seemed recovered and ready to return to the peloton, and spoke optimistically in this exclusive interview with Ella CyclingTips ahead of her 2015 road racing debut at the Ronde van Gelderland. We now know that it was only the start of a full year away from the pro peloton.
  •  What I know now that I wish I knew then
    “What do you know now that you wish you knew then?” is a question we ask repeatedly in interviews. We ask professional cyclists. We ask industry leaders. We ask the women we met on group rides and in the bike shop and cheering on the side of the road. We’ve asked beginner riders and experienced racers and everyone in-between – because everyone has something to offer. These tips get shared in our tip section on the website and sometimes appear as a full feature.
  • My first race
    Similar to the ‘What I know now’ features, we occasionally sit down with professionals cycling teams and ask them to share their ‘first race stories’ with us. They proved to be as insightful as humorous.
  • Kristy Scrymgeour speaks about stepping away from Velocio-SRAM’s management
    In August Velocio-SRAM 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.
  • Anna van der Breggen’s unassuming rise to the top
    Meet Anna van der Breggen, the Dutchwoman who took over the leader role at Rabo Liv when Marianne Vos was sidelined. Rising in Vos’ shadow, Van der Breggen added some of the season’s biggest wins to her palmares.

In closing we’d like to say a big thank you to all of our sponsors and commercial partners that have made it possible for us to get Ella off the ground. And of course, we’d like to say a big thank-you to all of you, our loyal readers.

From the start we wanted Ella to be much more than a website. We want to foster a community of women who bike, get more women riding, and create an online space where women and men can celebrate, connect and geek out over all things cycling. Thank you for being part of that community and we hope you’ll join us in 2016 for what’s shaping up to be another amazing year.

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