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More than 200 women have applied for just eight places on Canyon-SRAM’s new development team.
The project, which is the first of its kind for a Women’s WorldTour squad, aims to promote diversity within cycling and provide up and coming riders from under-served nations an opportunity to race at a high level.
A focus was put on riders from Africa, Asia, and South America, but applicants could be from anywhere in the world. A total of 239 people from 62 countries applied to be a part of the team, which will be called Canyon-SRAM Generation.
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“We expected quite some applications as the possibility to join Canyon-SRAM Generation was a unique opportunity, but we were overwhelmed by the number of applications. Not only by the sheer number but also the fact that we had applications from so many different nations, from all continents, through a wide variety of ages, and from all different backgrounds,” Canyon-SRAM’s diversity and inclusion expert Christine Kalkschmid said.
We received 239 applications from riders of 62 different nationalities for our new team, CANYON//SRAM Generation.
“We had applications from so many different nations, from all continents, through a wide variety of ages, and from all different backgrounds.” Christine Kalkschmid. pic.twitter.com/vXmcMzyZL6
— CANYON//SRAM Racing (@WMNcycling) November 23, 2021
A map published by the team shows that many applications came from some more common cycling regions such as Spain, France, the USA, and its home country Germany, but there were some less traditional areas, too. Applications for the squad also arrived from Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Malaysia, India, and Paraguay.
Canyon-SRAM’s diversity and inclusion program was launched earlier this year following a controversy surrounding new signing Chloe Dygert and her use of social media. Since then, the team’s riders have had several sessions on education around the issue.
The creation of the team was announced in late July and applications for it opened just over a month later.
Kalkschmid wants it to be more than just a regular cycling team but a squad of ambassadors.
“As the development team is part of the Canyon-SRAM Racing’s D&I program, we did not only want to ensure applications from promising riders from a performance point of view, we also wanted to make sure that we create a new team of ambassadors for diversity and inclusion,” Kalkschmid said. “Hence, we did not only request information about performance data and previous successes of the applicants but also about their values and goals and how they think they can contribute to the team’s success.
“It was a pleasure to see that many applicants have put a lot of time and energy into their application and have elaborated on their own personal values and goals and their standpoint on the topic of diversity and inclusion and how that can be of benefit for the team.”
The deadline for applicants was September 8 and the team has since whittled down the prospective riders. It is currently in the process of contacting people as it finalizes the eight-rider roster with a view to completing the process ahead of a combined training camp with the WorldTour riders in January.
Since unveiling the new project, team manager Ronny Lauke says he has developed a greater understanding of the hurdles many riders face in finding opportunities to turn professional.
“Each application had its own story that was worth listening to. They also helped us understand much better how big the gap for athletes in certain parts of the world is between starting in the sport and having the chance to get an opportunity to train and race full time as a professional cyclist,” Lauke said.
“We’re currently doing all of the administration and organization work and are in contact with the German national federation to complete the registration, and to bring the team successfully onto the road for 2022. The aim is to have both our Women’s World Team and Women’s Continental Team together for our first training camp in January.”