CYCLING ace Beth Crumpton has received a welcome boost ahead of the 2016 road cycling season by being selected to ride under the umbrella of professional women’s team Podium Ambition.
Following on from the launch of its Podium Ambition team, the not for profit company set up by Dame Sarah and Barney Storey in 2013 has revealed the six female riders who will make up the Podium Ambition Scholarship Programme and one of the chosen half dozen is 21-year-old Crumpton of Redditch.
The programme will be made up of three over 23s and three under 23s/juniors to ensure there is equal chance for riders of any age to progress and reach their potential.
Racing in the colours of the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club, the riders in the under 23/junior category will be Crumpton – the current and three-time under 23 national cross-country mountain bike champion who competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Team England.
She will be joined in the junior set-up by Bethany Taylor, who recently turned 18 and is a strong rider on both the track and road, as well as second year junior Monica Hope Dew, who has impressed everyone in track and road events alike.
The over 23 category will be made up of Nikola Matthews, who has been a member of Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International in the past two seasons, Ruth Taylor who joins from the Manchester Wheelers and Kelly Murphy from Birmingham who is studying for a PhD and only started racing last year.
A delighted Crumpton, of Walkwood, said: “This is something I am really excited about as it is giving me the opportunity to race in a team environment for the first time since being a junior.
“Even more exciting, it is being run under Sarah Storey’s management. She is a multi-Paralympic champion in both cycling and swimming whose experience and motivation to help develop riders to move up the ranks to professional level is brilliant.
“I can’t wait to get stuck into some road races with the team next year to develop me as a road rider and help with my mountain bike career as well.”
The creation of the programme falls in alongside the Storey’s vision for a viable development option for British women who wish to pursue a career as a road professional and the scholars will have numerous benefits including a close relationship with the riders of the professional team they aspire to.
Riders on the programme will receive free membership and race for the newly-created Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club, as well as having access to a sponsored road and time trial bike, race wheels, helmet and eyewear, plus general support for racing.
Perhaps the most unique part of the programme will be the links to the professional team for training and mentoring as well as creating a strong link to the general membership of the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club, who will be racing in the same kit.
Riders will be encouraged to ride other disciplines – such as track, cyclo-cross or cross-country mountain bike – to enhance their skill development.
Whilst the scholars will have strong links to the professional riders away from racing, they will be led and supported as a team in their own right at UK events across a selected programme of road, time trial and criterium events.
Dame Sarah Storey, who herself did not start cycling until the age of 27, explained the vision of the organisation as a whole but the importance of these riders being a stand-alone team on race day.
“We didn’t want to create a professional team development squad that would be defined and limited in their racing according to what the professional team were doing.
“A true path from UK racing to the UCI peloton allows the developing riders the autonomy to have their own programme and race plans so, by creating a scholarship programme that races as a different team, we can ensure everyone is well looked after and supported with their individual needs and everyone gets access to as much racing as needed to progress.”
She added: “The cycling club, scholarship programme and professional team now ensures Podium Ambition Limited has the complete pathway for a female cyclist and the stronger and faster you get on a bike the greater the support available.
“I have been in elite sport for 24 years now so it is an honour to be in a position to co-create, alongside Barney, something that helps put a bit back for all the support we have had over the years.”
To start the process of bringing this brand new group of riders together, they will attend a training camp in Lanzarote in December which also coincides with the professional team being on the island.
The scholarship riders will be housed completely separately to the professional team to ensure everyone has the opportunity to work in their own team environments as a priority, but there will be key opportunities when the groups can merge – either on the road or off the bike – for mentoring sessions.
Barney Storey summed up the situation: “We are conscious to ensure the scholarship riders have their own identity so we have the two teams training in the same location but staying apart to promote this from the beginning.
“The scholarship riders will get to see first-hand what it takes to be a professional but they won’t be overwhelmed or expected to skip a vital stage of their development.
“We can bring in key people to the scholarship housing, such as their bike sponsors, and ensure they get the right start to this new phase of their cycling.”
This weekend (November 7) Crumpton continues her journey in elite UCI cyclo-cross when she competes at the European Championships in Huijbergen, Holland, where she hopes an impressive performance will help seal her place at the World Championships in Belgium in January.