Sixth women's summit

Women cyclists and supporters of women's cycling gathered at September's Interbike trade show in Las Vegas for the sixth Yoplait Nouriche women's cycling summit. The summit focused on a highly successful entry-level racing programme and on how teams can provide more value for their sponsors.

Those at the summit heard how Cycling Made Real is the country's most successful programme for recruiting novice women to bicycle racing through organising entry-level racing series using existing events, offering skills clinics to women at the start of each season and by their communications with riders using mail, email and word-of-mouth.

The question of how teams can provide value to their sponsors was addressed by panelists Stephanie Scott (Jelly Belly Candy Company), Danny Van Haute (Jelly Belly Cycling), David LaPorte (Nature Valley Grand Prix) and Kristy Scrymgeour ( Delegates at the summit heard how Team sponsors can be effectively promoted by working with the promoters of big events to schedule athlete appearances, arrange sampling opportunities and to work with the event's media relations team; these strategies being far more effective then traditional options like logo placement on the team jersey.

They also heard how sampling at bicycle races has been an integral part of the marketing plan behind the launch of Jelly Belly Candy Company's new Sports Beans™. The endorsement of this new product by the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team helps communicate the brand's message that these beans are an energy product, not candy.

Finally, the issue of media exposure was addressed, with Kristy Scrymgeour outlining how it's also a key element of a successful sponsorship, with event promoters usually being in the best position to work with the media in their region and the fact that successful teams are ready to provide content such as rider bios, interesting personal angles and photos immediately upon request.

The overriding message was that, above all, teams should work closely with their sponsors. Teams that support their sponsors' marketing goals and keep in regular contact will create long-term partnerships. And longevity is one of the keys to racing success.

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