Newly-named Twenty24 Pro Cycling aim for esports, gravel and Olympics in 2021

kirsten.frattini@futurenet.com
·6-min read
 Lilly McLeod (Twenty24 Development)
Lilly McLeod (Twenty24 Development)

Nicola Cranmer's world-class development programme will continue next season under the new quadrennial name Twenty24 Pro Cycling. The American team, which has adjusted its name to match the four-year Olympic cycles since 2012, has renewed its commitment to developing athletes toward the postponed 2021Tokyo and 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The programme will once again support a women's elite team in 2021 while also remaining committed to developing the top junior riders across North America.

“With continued uncertainty of the 2021 race schedule in North America, I felt it important to continue to support a junior program as there are a number certainties and controllables; the junior team will continue to race regionally where applicable, and there will be regular junior Zwift meet-ups to connect the athletes located across North America and Canada,” Cranmer said, also announcing a new partnership with three-time Olympic gold medallist Kristin Armstrong.

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“We are excited to partner with Kristin Armstrong and KX3 Coaching, a new online coaching and educational platform launching in January. Through KX3 Coaching, we can set home training goals and Zwift and Strava challenges for each athlete and facilitate regular Zoom sessions, which will cover a wide range of topics such as pathway to performance and connecting high school athletes to colleges. As a part of KX3 coaching there will be an option for each junior athlete to be assigned a mentor partnering with one of the team’s professional athletes to offer guidance throughout the year. If racing happens, that will be a bonus," she said.

Cranmer's development program began as Proman-Hitsquad Professional Cycling Team in 2006, and Armstrong partnered with the team in 2010. The team flourished to become Peanut Butter & Co-Twenty12 at the beginning of the four-year cycle ahead of the Olympic Games in London, and then changed names to match the corresponding Olympic cycles: Exergy-Twenty16 ahead of the Rio Olympic Games, and Twenty20-Sho Air ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The team, currently called Twenty20 Pro Cycling, has seen riders come through their ranks such as Coryn Rivera, Ruth Winder, Kristen Armstrong, Mara Abbott, Jennifer Valente and Chloe Dygert, just to name a few.

“Finding the right environment for your development in your sport is so crucial,” said 10-time world champion Dygert, who is currently recovering from an injury sustained in a crash at the Imola World Championships.

“I’m so honored to say that mine was with the Junior Development team, Twenty16 and Twenty20. The team has access to every tool necessary to turn an athlete into the best cyclist you can be. But what made the difference in my career and as a person, was what I received off the bike. The love, belief and support the team gave me is why I am who I am today," Dygert said.

"The amount of injuries I endured being a part of this team is baffling, but there was never a hint of doubt from anyone that I wouldn’t be able to return. Having that kind of trust in your team makes the recovery and healing process that much easier. But it goes both ways, I had to devote myself to the team as much as they did to me. I can honestly say that without Nicola and Team Twenty20, I would not be in the sport today," Dygert added.

The Twenty20 Pro Cycling team, of which Dygert is currently a member, opted not to apply to be a UCI-registered team this year, and instead went ahead as a USA Cycling domestic elite women's team in 2020.

Cranmer told Cyclingnews that next year the elite women's team will primarily focus on esport, gravel racing and the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour events such as Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Gila, Chrono Kristin Armstrong and US National Championships. She noted, however, that any road racing endeavours are pending the health and safety restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the US next year.

The elite women's team in 2021 will include eight to 10 athletes and the team will announce their roster in the coming weeks. Cranmer said the elite women's team will once again support their athletes to reach their respective goals at the postponed 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Twenty24 Development

Maize Wimbush
Maize Wimbush

The team has also announced the Twenty24 Development team roster of nine riders, led by Lilly McLeod in 2021.

"I chose Twenty20 because I wanted to surround myself with like-minded female cyclists and cyclists that would challenge my abilities. The women that are on this team are established and experienced cyclists that can help me grow and help me achieve my goals in this sport. Twenty20, I feel, can help me achieve my goals by riding and learning the ropes of the sport from more experienced cyclists and team directors and leadership," McLeod said.

"My cycling goals in life is to win a junior world championship. Then move on to an elite level and win worlds and next an Olympic gold medal."

The team will also include Coralie Levesque, Cassidy Hickey, Mallory Bryan and Coco Diemar, sisters Ragan and Lauren Weigel, Homare Yamashita and Maize Wimbush, who has ambitions to become the first African American female Olympic cyclist.

"I enjoy being on Team Twenty20 because I feel like I am on a team that can build me up and eventually lead me to my long-term goal, the first African American female Olympic cyclist," Wimbush said.

"I also have always been taught by my parents, ‘You’re a product of who you surround yourself with.’ Being on this team, I am surrounded with winners all around, which leads me to believe I will one day be in one of their shoes."

For 13 consecutive years, the team has been awarded the USA Cycling Centers of Excellence Award, which is presented to select junior and under-23 development teams that excel in the development of young cyclists into nationally competitive athletes.

According to a team press release, developing future champions on the bike and leaders in the community are at the core of the team’s values, with an emphasis to support athletes in obtaining the best education possible for life after cycling. The team is a valued recruitment platform for young athletes heading to college, and many universities are now offering partial and full scholarships to capable female cyclists for their varsity programs.

“If we can connect our athletes to collegiate scholarships, this is a win and mission accomplished for me,” Cranmer said.

North American schedule 2021 - elite women's team

  • Redlands Bicycle Classic

  • Tour of the Gila

  • Chrono Kristin Armstrong

  • USA National Championships

  • TransRockies Gravel Royale Stage Race

  • Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) Series

  • Unbound

  • SBT Gravel

  • Spirit World 100

  • The Hemi Gravel Race

  • eSports Zwift WTRL Pro Premiere League Series

  • WTRL Team Time Trial