The new Aussie women’s team, funded by fans

The project's $100,000 fundraising goal has been met. Now the hard work begins.

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Just weeks after Pat Shaw joined as director sportif of the Inform TMX Make women’s setup, the Australian domestic team announced it was folding. So Shaw, an experienced former Continental-level racer, took matters into his own hands. He started fundraising to create a new women’s team for the 2023 season.

“There is a lack of opportunity in sport for women as it is, let alone the considerable gap that remains in the sport of cycling domestically in Australia,” Shaw wrote on the project’s GoFundMe page. “We want to help bridge the gap and leverage the dedication and talent of these incredible young women to assist them in achieving their dreams in the sport.

“Our motivation to help these women matches their motivation to achieve these dreams.”

Shaw has big ambitions for the new team: “To become one of the best teams in the world. To offer the best possible pathway for young women to reach their potential in the sport of cycling whilst inclusively completing studies and/or other professional career developments.

“To deliver as many riders to WorldTour racing (the highest level of racing in the world) as possible and to educate young women in the cycling profession, specifically in nutrition, training, recovery, race tactics, team dynamics and media training.”

Shaw set up the fundraising goal in early August, aiming for a total of $100,000. “We require more than the $100,000,” he wrote, “however, we have tentative agreements for sponsorship of bikes, components and clothing.”

Over the first month donations gradually trickled in, with supporters from all walks of life contributing. A handful of pro racers were among those donors – Chloe Hosking pitched in $500, Grace Brown did the same, Amanda Spratt contributed $400, and Luke Plapp donated $250.

But by early September the total raised was still sitting at around $12,000 – a sizeable sum but a long way from the project’s aim. This past weekend, though, the project received a game-changing donation of $100,000 from one anonymous donor, instantly tipping the project over its funding goal. At the time of writing, a total of $120,260 has been raised.

Shaw is confident that the project will now go ahead and that the team will race at Continental level in 2023. “These funds mean that our dream of helping these young women pursue their dreams is now a reality,” Shaw told CyclingTips.

Shaw plans for the team to take part in a combination of domestic and international racing in 2023, including the Australian summer races at the start of the new year (ideally including the now-WorldTour-ranked Tour Down Under), plus a “four-month European calendar”.

But that’s still many months away. While the project has now reached its initial fundraising goal, the hard work of actually creating the team must now begin.

Shaw tells CyclingTips he’s still looking for corporate sponsors for the project and would love to hear from anyone who’s interested and able to help. If that’s you, you can reach him at +61 438 860 219.

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