Team Illuminate on Tuesday confirmed the first eight spots on the new women's UCI roster, which includes 2016 Junior world championship road race silver medalist Skylar Schneider and her older sister, Samantha, winner of this year's USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.
Both sisters raced for ISCorp-SmartChoice MRI in 2016, and the core of the team will stay together on Illuminate as the program adds the women's team to it's three-year-old men's Continental squad.
"It is incredible the results that Sam, Skylar and the IScorp team achieved this year," said Team Illuminate principle Chris Johnson. "I wouldn't have this incredible opportunity without IScorp. They have supported cycling teams in the US for over 15 years, and it is important to acknowledge all that they have done and continue to do for the sport."
Skylar Schneider, 18, took fourth in the Worlds time trial in Doha, Qatar before Elisa Balsamo edged her out in the road race. The younger Schneider, who packs a fast finish and excels in criteriums, finished third in USA Cycling's Pro Road Tour series behind her older sister and, runner-up Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare).
"It feels very empowering to be part of a team that introduces a new perspective to cycling," Skylar Schneider said. "It is very pleasing that the equality between the men's and women's team is a priority - that right there shows the commitment Team Illuminate is making to improve the sport. I'm also thrilled to continue racing with my core of teammates from last season along with some very new talented and look forward to the 2017 season."
Johnson said he was able to watch Skylar Schneider at the World Championships, and he was duly impressed.
"I traveled to Qatar in October to cheer on Skylar at the World Championships," Johnson said. "It was incredible to see her on the podium in the road race and motivated me even more to put the women's team together. I know 2020 is in the back of her head and I certainly wouldn't bet against her - Skylar is the real deal and we're going to do all we can to help her succeed."
Samantha Schneider, 26, dominated criterium racing in the US this year, taking 15 wins on her way to winning the Pro Road Tour overall standings. She finished her season in September with a win at the Boston Mayor’s Cup. Skylar Schneider took 10 wins of her own this season, including the US Junior criterium road race and criterium titles. She also won the overall omnium at the Tour of America's Dairyland and took her final win of 2016 at the Doylestown criterium. She is currently a student at the University Wisconsin-Parkside, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management.
The elder Schneider sister said she is eager to start the 2017 season with what she described as an "incredibly talented squad of girls that I am honoured to race alongside."
"There is a core of riders transitioning from the ISCorp team with me and then some very talented additions," she said of the Schneider's father Dave. "We won the PRT this year, so it was important to keep our group of riders together. ISCorp has been incredible the last two years with their support and I want to really thank the team and all that Mike and Katie Weber have done."
Securing an invitation to the Tour of California women's race will be a major target for Samantha Schneider next year, as will the family relationships that have been a big part of her success.
"Skylar and I are very, very fortunate to be able to continue to race together and we're also lucky to be directed by our dad, she said. "It is truly a family affair and I wouldn’t have it any other way."
Johnson said the team will announce the remaining 2017 roster spots on its Strava page.
Team Illuminate 2017 roster announcements: Jessica Bobeck (USA), Georgia Catterick (NZl), Rachel Langdon (GBr), Lexie Millard (USA), Samantha Schneider (USA), Skylar Schneider (USA), Yusse Soto (Mex), and Josie Talbot (Aus).