“We are delighted to extend Leah’s contract,” said team owner Thomas Campana. “She is a rider who routinely makes important contributions to our team, both on and off the bike. Over the past year and a half since she joined us, she has grown immensely as a rider, with her podium place in Strade Bianche this past weekend demonstrating the potential which she possesses. It will be exciting to see what else she can achieve along this path, and it is great that riders such as her are able to make significant sportive developments as part of our team.”
In 2019, the American rider had an impressive first season with the team, then known as Bigla-Katusha, including taking the overall win at the Women’s Tour of Scotland, the Pan American ITT Championships, the Chrono des Nations, as well as stage wins at the Women’s Tour of Scotland and this year’s Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
When the team faced the threat of extinction this spring due to the loss of backing from both of its title sponsors, Thomas expressed her disappointment at the decision.
“Of course it’s one thing if you physically don’t have the capital,” Thomas told VeloNews in April, “but I hope people can realize this is an investment that’s worth making for a couple of months and seeing a commitment through ‘til the end.”
In June, team management confirmed that Paule Ka, a pret-a-porter global fashion brand, would step in effective July 1, 2020 through 2024. Thomas’ third-place finish at Strade Bianche on Saturday was thus a victory on many fronts — as a win to add to her own palmarès, as validation to the new sponsor, and as a sign of the health of women’s cycling as a whole.
“I am very grateful to Paule Ka for coming on board for the next four years,” Thomas said. “Stability is key to developing a good program and I’m excited about what we can build together in the future. I love that the team is about development, that each day we work together to become better than the day before, and I think with that type of mindset, we will be a huge force within the peloton.”
Thomas’s next race will be the Grand-Prix de Plouay, the next race in the Women’s WorldTour. Despite the tumult of 2020, the 31-year old Olympic hopeful says that she’s on the right track with Équipe Paule Ka.
“I know this is the right place for me to continue to develop and improve, and I’m looking forward to contributing to the continued success of the team.”