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Canyon-SRAM to launch development team as part of diversity and inclusion program

Canyon-SRAM's diversity and inclusion program was launched after controversy about Chloe Dygert's conduct on social media. The new team will aim to support under-served countries in cycling.

Women’s WorldTeam Canyon-SRAM will launch a new development squad from 2022.

Title sponsor Canyon has increased its funding to support the development team and has extended its deal with the squad until 2023.

The eight-rider team will be registered at Continental level, with rider recruitment focused on – though not restricted to – under-served cycling regions such as Africa, Asia, and South America. Applications for a place on the squad will open in the coming weeks, with detailed criteria for applicants.

Also read: Rapha slams Chloé Dygert over social media conduct: ‘An apology she issued was not sufficient’

“Since the beginning of Canyon-SRAM Racing we were always motivated to create opportunities for women from all over the globe to enter the sport of professional women’s cycling,” said team manager Ronny Lauke. “We have understood that we need to do more and are excited to be able to present the Canyon-SRAM Racing development team.

“With this team, we are opening another unique pathway that talents from countries that are underrepresented in the women’s peloton can use and receive full support on a daily basis. We are very much looking forward to this new chapter and are confident that our impact and help to lower entry barriers and to give the sport a change that will motivate many more women to enter the beautiful sport of cycling.”

The new development team is part of Canyon-SRAM’s diversity and inclusion program, which was launched in January following controversy around the social media activity of new signing Chloe Dygert.

Screenshots of Dygert’s Twitter account showed she had liked a number of posts on Twitter that made transphobic and racist statements. She later “unliked” the posts in question and issued a statement apologizing to “those who felt offended or hurt” by her social media conduct.

The team’s clothing sponsor Rapha subsequently issued a statement saying Dygert’s apology was “insufficient” and condemned her use of social media to endorse racist and transphobic views.

In January, Canyon-SRAM signed diversity and inclusion team development expert Christine Kalkschmid, who has been working with Dygert – who remains on the squad – and the team’s other riders. This has included several one-to-one sessions with Dygert herself.

“We started our D&I program with the whole team, including Chloe,” Kalkschmid told VeloNews. “We embedded this in our strategy over the next three years. And for this year, our main focus is to learn and to educate about D&I. So, we had various sessions with riders also one on one calls with Chloe, where we discuss the topic of D&I focusing on various specific topics, like race like gender equality, etc.”

Also read: Meet Neve Bradbury, Canyon-SRAM’s newest rider

Kalkschmid has helped the team to set up the new development squad and she will also run a diversity and inclusion program with its riders as well as continuing to work with those on the elite team.

“Cycling in general and professional women‘s cycling, in particular, is not accessible for many women around the world,” she said. “Our goal is to make the sport diverse and inclusive by developing and fostering promising talents that currently have no or only limited access to cycling.

“The launch of the Canyon-SRAM development team is a major stepping stone for us. We are convinced that this team will show that if you provide a professional surrounding, talents from all over the world can successfully step up to a UCI Women’s WorldTeam.”

In addition to the development team, the squad will continue to run its Canyon-SRAM Zwift Academy, a competition that gives the winning riders a contract with the elite team.