November 4/11 10:58 am - Clara Hughes Joins Specialized lululemon Squad
Posted by Editoress on 11/4/11
It was announced a while ago that much of the HTC-Highroad women's team would be going to a new squad sponsored by Canadian clothing company lululemon and that Canadian cyclist Clara Hughes would be joining the team, however, it has now been officially announced that Specialized bicycles will be a title sponsor of the team (the official release is further down this page).
We also corresponded with Clara about her joining the team, since she had said previously that she was not going to join a team, because it would put constraints on her ability to do her own program. Clara explained that she is donating her salary from the team towards a Right To Play youth initiative in Mali that she is funding. Clara explained the decision to join Specialized-lululemon thus:
"Yes obviously a big decision ... it was a lot of energy this past year to micro-manage what I'm doing and an experiment. I'd say it was 95 percent successful but I'm looking for that last 5 percent, which is essentially energy to focus."
"My main criteria with a team was to stay on the bike that inspired my return to cycling - The Shiv - and I remain on the absolute best componentry with Shimano. In the new Specialized - lululemon team I not only have the bike, but I have the very best equipment across the board with Hed wheels as well. I've been an athlete ambassador for lululemon for years so it was an obvious fit."
"More than anything, I will be in an environment where everything and everyone functions at the highest level. This is crucial. I'll do a racing schedule that makes sense to preparing for making the Olympics and then most importantly performing at the Olympics to my potential. I was pretty tired emotionally at Worlds this year and this was because of the stress of managing everything in order to race. It's too much, even for me. And I want to race at a higher level."
"I loved doing many NRC races this year I was never able to do before like Gila, Cascade and Mt Hood, but I found it pretty boring after awhile just racing for myself and having everyone race against me (which I understand). I need more of a challenge than that and cannot wait to have the opportunity to contribute to such an awesome team. So it's just a matter of tweeking what I did this year and filling some gaps, lessening the load on me so I can continue to be improve and be a force. It's going to be a fun year!"
Velocio Sports announces Monday that the former HTC-Highroad women’s team will continue into 2012 with new title sponsors and management group. The team, which will be made up of a large percentage of the 2011 riders and staff, will be primarily supported by Specialized Bicycle Company and lululemon athletica and will be known as Team Specialized lululemon.
Specialized has a longstanding commitment to women’s cycling, having sponsored some of the best female athletes in the world over the years and dedicating vast resources into women’s specific products. In 2012, the California company will take it to a whole new level in partnership with Vancouver based lululemon athletica to the most successful women’s cycling teams in the world.
"This is such an awesome opportunity for us," said Specialized’s President and Founder, Mike Sinyard. "We’re really excited to put our name behind these incredible athletes with an inspiring company like lululemon that makes the best women’s athletic apparel in the world. Our pro riders give us invaluable feedback to continue innovating the best bikes in the world."
"We can’t wait to elevate women’s cycling with Specialized," said Christine Day, CEO, lululemon athletica. "Their technical expertise, longstanding pedigree and dedication to women in cycling inspire our entire organization. Feedback from the athletes is what drives us and these amazing athletes further enhance our focus on technical product."
The team will race on the all-new 2012 Specialized Amira, on which they took many great victories in 2011 and showcased it as a podium-worthy women’s race bike. The women will also ride the World Championship-winning S-Works Shiv, the S-Works Prevail and TT2 helmets, as well as Specialized Body Geometry Oura saddles and S-Works shoes.
Although the team will not continue to be run by High Road Sports, Highroad will be a supplier of the team going forward. "Bob [Stapleton] has been an avid supporter of women’s cycling for many years and we would like to carry on his hard work by continuing the team with much of the same structure in place," said Director of Velocio Sports, Kristy Scrymgeour. "He has been very supportive of the project and will provide us with valuable equipment to get us going."
Most of the team’s firepower will return for 2012, including star riders like sprint star Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (GER), U.S national time trial champion Evelyn Stevens and former world time trial champion Amber Neben (USA.) An exciting new addition to the roster will be Olympic medalist of both cycling and speed skating, Clara Hughes from Canada
Other returning riders are Ellen Van Dijk (NED), Emilia Fahlin (SWE), Chloe Hosking (AUS), Ally Stacher (USA), Charlotte Becker (GER) and Katie Colclough (GBr) with new additions in Trixi Worrack (GER) and Lisa Brennauer (GER).
A spokesperson for Specialized Canada commented: "What makes this team special for us here in Canada is not only the partnership with a strong Canadian company, lululemon, but also that the team will also include Clara Hughes, Summer and Winter Olympian, as well as someone who is dear to our hearts."
Clara had this to say about her involvement with Specialized and the lululemon team:
"I've been a proud to say I ride Specialized even before my return to competitive cycling last year. After a good first season back, and the choice of many teams, there was only one criteria I would not budge on: the team would have to be on Specialized. There was no way I would give up racing on these beautiful bikes. The SL3 (and now 4); the Venge; the Shiv... I can't tell you how much I love these bikes. And now, I can ride these machines while racing on the best team in the world. It doesn't get much better than that. Thanks to Specialized Canada, I am back in the sport, achieving every goal I set. I can't wait for next season and hope to do Canada - and Specialized - proud in London."