Winder highlights importance of mentor Gracie Elvin in navigating retirement

Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo)
Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

One of the main initiatives launched by The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) has been their mentorship programme. As the trade association representing the interests of female cyclists, the TCA aims to support its members at all stages of their career through this programme by connecting mentees with fellow professional cyclists and other businesses in the sport.

After spending the last seven years of her life as a professional cyclist, Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) has recently retired and, in this time of transformation and uncertainty, has turned to the TCA’s scheme for guidance.

“I think TCA is doing great things and has been really helpful to me through the mentoring program specifically,” Winder said. “Having Gracie Elvin as a mentor while I was retiring has been great, and I continue to talk with her. That has been amazing for me – that program alone has been so good. Just the fact that we have this now is such a huge change and huge step for women in the sport.”

As well as offering advice through this mentoring scheme, the TCA also provides workshops in which cyclists can learn about skills such as media training, networking and CV building to carry into the next stage of their careers.

“Networking was a big thing they talked about, and there was so much openness from other women on how to network,” Winder said. “It was also nice to spend time specifically thinking about resumes and having constructive feedback and help in building a CV – especially for me since I have always been recruited by cycling teams and never had to write one to get onto a cycling team. I felt like I never had any experience at all, so for me, it was super helpful to have this workshop from people in the industry that I would want to go and work in.

“Part of the workshops was really encouraging, but there was no one saying, ‘so you could do this job’ so I still feel that I am not totally sure where I will end up,” said Winder. “But it was encouraging to hear from the companies that they believe I have a lot of experience and that they are open to hiring an ex-professional cyclist even though that is all I’ve done my whole life.”

Providing riders like Winder with the tools to find a career outside the confines of professional cycling allows them more freedom to choose their specific retirement date. 

Winder, for example, cited missing her fiancé, family and home in the USA while racing in Europe as the main reasons for her relatively early retirement at 28. With many working years still ahead of her, the schemes run by the TCA can allow her to pursue new ventures.

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.