The end of the era and what it means for women's cycling

Tiff Cromwell on time with Velocio-SRAM

Last week saw the announcement of the closing of my trade team Velocio-SRAM and the organisation behind it at the end of the 2015 season. I'm sure to many, if not everyone it was a shock and a big surprise to read the news.

As a rider from the team we had already been informed about the future of the team about a week before the official announcement and knew it could've been a possibility for some time. Initially when we first had talks about the teams future back in May it did come as a surprise for me, that's for sure. It's a huge loss for the sport, a team that has continually been one of the best teams in the world throughout its entire existence.

Ultimately it came down to the struggle to find a long-term naming right sponsor for the team to give it a long and stable future as opposed to relying on one to two year contracts. Anyone who knows anything about business knows that this isn't sustainable and just creates continued stress from year to year.

The greater question this raises is what does it take to gain interest into the sport from outside the industry or private backers and how do we create a sustainable business model in the sport? You look at the season that our team has had this year. We have had a huge amount of success with numerous victories including races like the Tour of California and the women's Tour of Britain, which are races with some of the greatest coverage and exposure on the women's circuit. Not only this, we do a lot of off the bike activities and are very active through social media to bring excitement and a strong presence of the team to the world.

There has also been a huge amount of excitement in the growth of women's cycling the last couple of years and for what is a relatively small investment for big companies, we still can't seem to put our finger on the major selling point to attract new sponsors to the sport.

It's a shame to see, and as I mentioned previously, losing a team of the caliber of Velocio-SRAM isn't what we need in the sport trying to build a sustainable future. Full credit to Kristy on fighting all the way to the end, it was a difficult decision for her to make, that's for sure.

We have to thank Kristy for what she has done for the sport and our team over the last few years. Not only Kristy though but all of our staff as you wouldn't have a team that runs so smoothly and creates a very professional environment for the riders without these foundations. Also to our partners that have stood by this team, supported it and always given us the best equipment available over the years.

I have only been with the team for two seasons but it's a team that I have always looked up to and admired from the outside as it built its way from the HTC-Highroad days into Specialized-Lululemon and now Velocio-SRAM.

When one door closes, a new one opens. With a team that has the calibre of riders like Velocio-SRAM shutting down it does leave many good riders and staff without a future heading into an Olympic year. Things are looking positive though, as it's just been announced that a new top-level team for 2016 and beyond has been set up by Ronny Lauke, current DS at Velocio-SRAM. I'm sure we will see a lot of the current Velocio-SRAM set up transfer across, whilst I'm confident everyone will find new teams for 2016.

This new team is certainly exciting for the sport and I just hope with the new women's world tour structure that has been announced and the ideas and ambitions for the sport, we can find that stability and strong business models to grow the sport further, not only in women's cycling but cycling as a whole. 

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