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When Jenny Rissveds returned to competition in 2019 after a two-year hiatus to address her mental health, a number adorned her Swedish national champion’s jersey.
It referred to Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities.”
Rissveds’ returned to racing in 2019 on a team of one that she called Team 31. It was part of her efforts to refocus her cycling career on the fun of riding bikes and take attention away from the cutthroat nature of competition.
On Wednesday, Rissveds announced that Ibis Cycles would be joining Team 31 as title sponsor.
”Ibis have proved that they are ready to take a step in a different direction, and that’s exactly what we as a team are looking for,” she said. “I’m very excited about this partnership and excited to help push the sports industry towards something healthier. Together with Ibis, we want to show the next generation that sport can be playful, fun, and free from pressure, and not only about winning, losing, and fighting mentality. Sport is for everybody, and we are happy about finally finding a bike brand who is willing to go on this journey with us.”
Joining Rissveds on Team 31 this year are two up-and-coming riders. Kelsey Urban, 23, is a U.S. national team member and former U23 national champion, and Linn Gustaffzon, 27, rides on the Swedish national team.
Related: The Beta Tests: Ibis Exie
The trio will focus on UCI World Cup racing, but the mission of maintaining a childlike spirit on the bike will remain central to the team’s ethos. Rather than perpetuate the pressurized structure of elite racing with its focus on podiums, followers, and engagement, the team’s goal is to have fun and inspire others.
“Our goal is to show what is important about sports, it should be fun, healthy, confidence building, and for everyone,” Gustaffzon said.
Team 31 will ride and race aboard the Exie, Ibis’ lightweight carbon race bike that debuted in July. The Exie is the California brand’s first carbon fiber full suspension bike manufactured entirely in house.
Ibis Cycles, which was founded in northern California 40 years ago, has a strong presence in the Enduro MTB scene, but it hasn’t been title sponsor of a cross-country team since “the mid 90’s where we campaigned a number of different teams in Colorado, California and Texas,” said company founder Scot Nicol.
Tom Morgan, Ibis’ president, said that Team 31 presented a perfect opportunity to send the Exie to the races.
“When we designed the Exie we aspired to make a bike capable of competing at the highest level of the sport — partly to show what we could do, but also because we’re huge fans of World Cup XC racing,” he said. “The idea of sponsoring Team 31 and Jenny seemed like a fantasy — she is one of the athletes we’ve most admired in racing. Not just because of her race results, but because of the incredible work she’s done to raise attention for the rights of children.”