EF Pro Cycling and the team's bike supplier, Cannondale – along with USA Cycling – have pledged to increase diversity with the introduction of new cycling programmes at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) and Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCU).
The new initiative – with an initial commitment of three years – will commence in 2021, and establish two new collegiate cycling programmes: one at an HBCU and one at a TCU, the team said.
"In year one, the team [EF] and Cannondale will support co-ed [men's and women's] cycling teams at these schools through equipment, funding, and mentorship."
The move was apparently inspired by the launch earlier this year of the US's first HBCU cycling team through the School of Business, Management and Technology at Saint Augustine's University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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"As the dialogue about racial equality came to a head in the US, we listened, we learned, and we looked for ways we could make a lasting impact and provide access to the sport of cycling to young Black and Indigenous people," said Dennis Kim, Vice President of Marketing for Cannondale's parent company, Cycling Sports Group.
"It was important to Cannondale and EF that this was a multi-year commitment to work with these schools to help grow participation," he said.
"We believe that cycling is for everyone. Yet, in reality, not everyone feels welcome or has access today," said EF Pro Cycling President Mary Wittenberg.
"We want to help increase diversity in our sport, starting with racial diversity in cycling in the USA. Success will require a comprehensive approach across the industry, so we turned to USA Cycling to talk about how we could best target our energies in concert with others looking to help, from grade school to masters-age athletes."
USA Cycling CEO Rob DeMartini added: "USA Cycling, as the governing body for our sport, believes we have a unique opportunity to grow participation in cycling. As part of our investment in rebuilding collegiate cycling, we are thrilled to be starting this program with EF and Cannondale.
"Cycling has many of the challenges seen across our society today and we believe working directly with the HBCU and TCU communities we can begin to open doors with the help of partners in our industry," he said.
Potential supporters will soon be offered the opportunity to win two of EF Pro Cycling's specially painted Cannondale bikes used at this year's Giro d'Italia as part of the team's collaboration with skatewear brand Palace, which also resulted in clothing supplier Rapha designing some special limited-edition – and highly sought-after – EF Pro Cycling x Palace kit.
Further details are to follow, but the proceeds from the forthcoming raffle of the bikes will go to the two new collegiate cycling teams, with the hope of increasing the number of programmes in the future.
Any universities or colleges that are interested in applying for the programme should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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