Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 has announced his intention to return to the professional ranks after applying for a UCI Continental Team license in 2023.
It is one of the most successful development teams in the world, led by General Manager Nicola Cranmer and Director Shelley Olds. They aim to compete at the highest level of road racing in the United States and possibly South America or Europe while maintaining their commitment to Track, Mountain Biking, Gravel, Ultra, eSports and Paracycling.
“To race in North America you really don’t need a UCI license at the moment as there are only two UCI races, but with our new partnership with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Virginia Tourism Corporation I need to increase the status of the team as far as possible. I think the media pays a little more attention to the team when we’re UCI than when we’re national elite,” said Cranmer, who is in the process of finalizing the 2023 line-up.
“We could possibly race outside of the US later in the year, in South America or in Europe. The goal would be to give the drivers the experience because we have a lot of exciting younger drivers.”
The two partners who signed with the team this year, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Virginia Tourism Corporation, support high-performance cycling and youth development, and create awareness of Virginia’s Blue Ridge as a cycling destination and unique training ground for athlete development.
“Over the past year, TWENTY24’s long-term partnership with Virginia’s Blue Ridge has resulted in remarkably positive economic development in the region while providing the team with the scope to explore all cycling disciplines while maintaining a strong focus on Zwift eSports” said Cranmer.
“Our growth over nearly two decades has created more opportunities for talent discovery, particularly in the high-performance arena, particularly in time trials, but also in connecting young women with college scholarships. The time is right for us to return to the UCI designation with a mixed season of UCI racing, track and gravel/MTB and Zwift racing. I’m excited about our roster of returning athletes and impressive new talent.”
Cranmer’s development program began in 2006 as a Proman-Hitsquad Professional Cycling Team, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong became a partner with the team in 2010.
The team evolved into Peanut Butter & Co-Twenty12 at the start of the four-year cycle before the London Olympics, then changed names to match the relevant Olympic cycles: Exergy-Twenty16 before the Rio Olympics, Twenty20-Sho Air before the Tokyo Olympics and now Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 ahead of the Paris Olympics.
The team decided not to renew its UCI Continental Team license for the 2020 season, in part due to the cancellation of the women’s WorldTour event, the Tour of California, which then coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw racing in the US and worldwide have been cancelled.
“I’m motivated again. Just before the pandemic hit we decided not to race with a UCI license and it worked for a couple of years because there was little racing and we didn’t have to. During that time “Personally, it was a good time for me to think about it and see what I wanted to do within the sport. We started with gravel racing, ventured into adventures and saw what else was out there. It was great , and I enjoyed it, but I did it.” miss the high-performance aspect and that’s another reason why he’s returned to a UCI status,” said Cranmer.
The Twenty24 program, in all its versions as title sponsor, has seen riders who have risen and surpassed their ranks in road and track cycling, including Coryn Rivera, Ruth Winder, Mara Abbott, Chloe Dygert and current world and Olympic champions on the track You Jennifer Valente.
“TWENTY24 is a cornerstone program in American cycling. The team does a heroic job of identifying future rider talent of international caliber, offering them unique development opportunities and supporting them in their bid for world titles and Olympic medals,” said Brandon Quirk, CEO and President of USA Cycling.
“At USA Cycling, we are confident that the USA Women’s National Team will soon return to world No. 1, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of Nicola Cranmer and her team. We couldn’t be happier with the team’s return to the UCI ranks and we look forward to many more years of productive collaboration.”
The team moved its operating base to Virginia in January and has brought in local investors who are now involved in women’s cycling, supporting the team’s mission with high school programs and college scholarships, and hosting races and cycling-related events across the region such as. the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Anthem GO Outside Festival and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Go Cross Cyclocross Race
“It really should be a case study for strategic destination marketing,” said Kristin Armstrong. “It’s a group of companies that have leveraged their competitive advantage, and they’re doing it right.”