Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank announced today that it will take the lead in funding Fount Cycling Guild as a women’s development team for next season, providing support through the Silicon Valley Cycling Foundation.
A grassroots development team that began just three years ago in Seattle, Washington, Fount Cycling exploded onto the national stage in June at the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships, highlighted with a bronze medal by Veronica Ewers in the road race and eighth place in the time trial.
"As we move Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank up to World Tour status, it's going to leave a void for development level riders in North America. Funding Fount through Silicon Valley Cycling Foundation, (SVCF), a 501c3 formed to develop promising female athletes into top international competitors, will help fill that void,” said Linda Jackson, founder and manager of Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, which is the longest-running pro women’s cycling team in North America. Heading into its 18th season, the team has filed an application for a Women’s WorldTour licence in 2022.
“What makes Fount unique as a development team is their niche of finding non-cyclists and transforming them into pros. Their riders come from diverse backgrounds, including rowing, bobsled, and soccer. Since its start in 2019, Fount has dominated the local racing scene across all categories in the Pacific Northwest. These results inspired the team to grow the club and form an elite women's team,” added Jackson.
Earlier this year Ewers signed a two-year contract to move up to the TIBCO squad, and is now racing with, not against, USPro road race champion Lauren Stephens. Ewers has already performed a guest rider on the team, first at the Joe Martin Stage Race in August, where she finished on the podium at all four stages and came away with second overall, and then at the Tour de Ardèche in mid-September, where she finished fifth overall.
Founded by Jennifer Wheeler and David Richter, both former pro cyclists, Fount Cycling Guild is a grassroots club team of 90 plus riders, which focuses on developing riders and preparing them for domestic elite teams. The team that raced in Knoxville at US Pro Road Championships was one of the most active in the criterium, and finished with five riders in the top 21 at the road race, including Ewers on the podium in her first-ever national championship event.
"We don't just expect people to show up as Cat 1 racers and then add them to our team," said Richter, who has been a coach for more than 15 years. "That's not growing the sport."
Wheeler was a competitive runner in college and did not begin bike racing until 10 years later at the age of 31. She then raced for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank in 2011 and 2012. Wheeler noted in June after USPro nationals that Ewers was a diamond in the rough and began riding for Fount in sweat pants and tennis shoes, and “she has the most grit I've ever seen in anybody."
"The women are out there," Wheeler said. "You just have to find and develop them. This requires passion, time, money, and energy—it's definitely not easy."
The mission for TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank is to "help aspiring female cyclists achieve their dreams of becoming top International competitors." Jackson said she and Wheeler share a passion to help aspiring female cyclists, and they also have “the experience, time and desire to invest in women.”
"I believe that by investing in the early recruitment and development of talented female athletes we will broaden the base of the women's world tour pyramid. Right now, there are 20-30 women who dominate the elite racing calendar. Jennifer's program has already propelled Veronica Ewers into the World Tour, and I am sure she will produce many more entrants into the peloton,” Jackson added.
“SVCF's contribution is a start on the funding side, but we are looking for others to step in to help fund the team. There are so many people who are passionate about fixing the discrepancies between men's and women's cycling. This is a great way to take action on that issue."
The team has already renewed contracts for US pro road champion Stephens and multi-time US cyclo-cross champion Clara Honsinger for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. In August, the team confirmed that it had secured the additional funding through its existing partners to pay for the heightened financial requirements to join the top tier of women’s pro cycling, such as increased rider salaries.
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