In 2004, Linda Jackson started working with a local women’s cycling team in Palo Alto, California. In 2006, Jackson asked a sponsor for $100,000 to get her new team to a few national races. The partner had $5,000. Her response?
“I’ll take it.”
And brick by brick over the last 17 years, Jackson, a former investment banker turned Canadian professional racer, built a team to compete on a national level and provide meaningful support to the next generation of professional women cyclists.
WorldTour races, national championships and domestic races. They have produced national champions as well as Olympians and World Championship contenders. Beyond road racing, their athletes have raced gravel, cyclocross and track.
Now, the team that started at local races in 2004 with the goal of getting to a few national events will step up to the WorldTour in 2022, and EF Education First will join as a co-title partner. The team’s original mission — to help women reach their goals in a healthy and supportive environment — remains central. As a starting point, all women racing for the team full-time will be paid the men’s WorldTour minimum salary.
The team is the longest-running women’s team in North America and one of the most tenured in the sport, thanks to the long-standing support of TIBCO and Silicon Valley Bank. EF Education First is proud to be part of the team as it charts a new course into the future of women’s cycling.
“We’re excited to be part of this team and to help these amazing riders reach their goals. The salary component is incredibly important to all of us, because it allows the riders to pursue the sport full-time,” said Maria Norrman, global chief of staff at EF Education First. “We can’t wait to help add the next chapter in this team’s great history.”
Jackson, who has led the team every step of the way, sees a huge opportunity, for both her team and the sport as a whole.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the professionalization of women’s cycling. The opportunity these women have now is amazing. I’ve been in the sport for 30 years; I raced in the ‘90s in horrendous conditions and with very little support. It’s been a long road, but to see money finally coming into the sport so that women can make a living while racing their bikes is a very gratifying feeling,” Jackson said.
Her goal is to steadily improve the team without losing focus on its developmental roots.
“The sporting goal of this team is to be a top five WorldTour team in a few years. We don’t need to be the number one team in the world. That’s not my objective. My objective is to help these women reach their potential,” she said. “To become Olympians, world champions, World Championship participants, whatever their goals are. EF’s partnership has enabled us to bring on top-tier staff to provide our riders with the infrastructure and support they need to achieve these goals in a supportive environment.”
Several of the EF Education-NIPPO partners will support the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB team as well, including Cannondale, Rapha, WHOOP, and POC.
Cannondale has worked with TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank team since 2019, partnering with the team on gravel and road racing equipment.
“Collaborating with EF and other key team partners with the TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank team as they grow to WorldTour is an ideal evolution of our continued support and our commitment to women’s cycling,” said Jonathan Geran, director of sports marketing for Cannondale.
The team is composed of 13 riders from six different countries and will welcome seven new riders in 2022, two of which return to the team for the second time. The team will announce its full roster in the coming weeks.
“I’m really excited about the potential that our roster has. As we step up to WorldTour status, our strategy is to focus on finding emerging talent that we can mold into the next generation of top international riders,” Jackson said. “We have a diverse mix of multi-talented riders including climbers, all-arounders and stage winners and will build our calendar accordingly. In addition to the WorldTour we will also continue our alternative calendar emphasis, which is a great fit with EF.”
2022 promises to be an exciting season on the women’s circuit, as the Tour de France offers another marquee event, and the recent Paris-Roubaix Femmes set the stage for years to come. The EF Education-TIBCO-SVB team will also continue its pioneering spirit of racing “alternative” events across the world. Beyond the race results, the team’s dream is to inspire more women to ride.
“Women have demonstrated for years now how exciting their sport can be and what they are capable of. I truly believe that the media exposure around the new Paris-Roubaix for women and the emergence of the Tour de France Femmes next season are helping to draw more women to the sport,” Jackson said. “A friend of mine just told me yesterday how her local cycling club has seen an influx of women this past year. We’re at an inflection point where young women are seeing cycling for the first time and thinking, ‘This is a sport that I can do.’ That’s exactly what women’s cycling needs, growth in the base of the pyramid. Now it’s up to us to keep pushing.”