Being outside the day-in day-out schedule of road racing whilst supporting our Olympic stars has given us the chance to pinpoint exactly what we want to achieve in the coming seasons. Until now we have been a pure racing team fulfilling a full race program with riders with mixed skill sets within a professional environment. Those elements combined with our work off the bike allow us to provide the investment return our partners need to justify their continued investment. These additional activities have included our involvement in events, either directly or via partnerships with team sponsors, leading to the creation of the televised criterium series the Matrix Fitness GP.
In recent seasons we have worked in an increasingly crowded market, with more teams created and pushing for their place at the top of the domestic scene, most having very similar objectives and all targeting the same pool of riders. When we entered the sport under the Matrix banner in 2010 it seemed a distant dream to have so many strong and successful teams at the top of the domestic scene.
Reflecting on what we have achieved as a team at our team launch back in April, we highlighted the 2015 graduation of Molly Weaver to the upper echelons of women’s professional cycling as the previous year’s biggest success despite holding jerseys in major races and winning prestigious events. That leg-up for Molly shone brightly above the other achievements and since 2012 there has been a steady stream of riders that have taken a step, via our team, to a UCI team that matched their ambitions.
It has become clear that developing riders for strong international UCI teams is a far greater goal for us and we are now looking at forging development pathways for riders in two ways:
- Creating sustainable links to leading professional teams, and being able to provide those teams with World Tour level riders that match the skill set they are looking for.
- Continue putting the best riders we can into our set up, and giving them the highest support available in all the areas they can get, to allow them to move up to the right team.
These two clear branches of our operation mean that going forward we will be moving away from the traditional racing team format, and creating a “performance centre” environment, where we focus on fewer riders, with each rider having a far greater input from us into a fully customized program.
A major consideration for us has been staying unique, and offering something that is currently missing in the sport for female riders. Part of our thought process involved the analysis of “What is Development”. Increasingly often we hear the words development team, but we do not always get an explanation of what a rider is being developed for, or how that process is happening.
With our training facilities in southern France, as well as in Belgium, we have options as to where we can best position riders to achieve their goals. We want to ensure our program is the most tailored structure available to aspiring female riders who will then be able to best position themselves to move up the ladder of women’s cycling. With the continued support of Matrix Fitness for 2017 we are in a great position to meet our goals and are in the process of adding riders who have road ambitions for the 2017 season. It will be our 8th season with title support from Matrix, something rarely seen in women’s cycling. Our work towards finding a large and long-term co-title sponsor will continue throughout the winter and spring as we hope to increase the scope of our program beyond what we currently do, even into other areas of cycling.
We are pleased to be in the position to continue working with Olympic Champions Corrine Hall, Lora Turnham and Elinor Barker, with more rider news to be released very soon. By being outside of the UCI team structure, we are extremely happy to be able to continue our support for Lora and Corrine, both will be starting their 3rd season with the team. This follows their outstanding performances in Rio, bringing home a Gold and Bronze medal. We have a very exciting 2017 planned already with Elinor and will keep you posted on that over the coming weeks.
Our new direction will put us into a unique space in the cycling arena and we look forward to an exciting start to the 2017 season