WorldTeam Canyon-SRAM announced they will form a women’s development program starting in 2022.
Eight women will join a UCI Continental extension of Canyon-SRAM to create a two-tier structure, something never seen before in the women’s WorldTeam peloton. The development team will have access to supervised training, coaching, mentorship, racing programs, and opportunities with the Canyon-SRAM WorldTeam squad.
The team will be for women from overlooked areas of the world, countries where the leap to the professional peloton is sometimes too far. Dates for enrollment have not yet been announced. Preference will be given to riders from Africa, South America and Asia, but is open to other regions as well.
“Since the beginning of CANYON//SRAM Racing, we were always motivated to create opportunities for women from all over the globe to enter the sport of professional women’s cycling,” said team manager Ronny Lauke.
The new development program is not the first time Canyon-SRAM has looked for new talent outside the usual pathways. The WorldTeam adds a new member to the team each year via the Zwift Academy. Ella Harris and Neve Bradbury are both current members of Canyon-SRAM who won their contracts on the virtual riding platform.
“With Zwift, we started the CANYON//SRAM Zwift Academy and every year we have motivated more women to compete for the available spot on our team and are convinced this has had a positive impact on the growing numbers of female cyclists,” Lauke said in a press release. “We have understood that we need to do more and are excited to be able to present the CANYON//SRAM Racing development team.”
A few of the men’s WorldTeams have feeder programs that allow younger riders to find their footing in a professional setting, Jumbo-Visma, Team DSM, and Groupama-FDJ among them. Women’s teams often don’t have the funding to be able to support two programs. There are also some women’s teams that have development programs attached to their elite team, for example, Twenty24 in the United States.
“With this team, we are opening another unique pathway that talents from countries that are underrepresented in the women’s peloton can use and receive full support on a daily basis,” Lauke said. “We are very much looking forward to this new chapter and are confident that our impact and help to lower entry barriers and to give the sport a change will motivate many more women to enter the beautiful sport of cycling.”
The development program is tied to Canyon-SRAM’s Diversity and Inclusion program that launched in January of 2021.