Cherie Pridham will lead the Israel Start-Up Nation squad next season as sports director in the WorldTour and other races, becoming the first woman to assume the role at the highest level of professional cycling.
"I feel truly proud and privileged to be the first woman to serve as a sports director at the WorldTour level, joining one of the best teams in the world and being entrusted with great and legendary riders,” reacted Pridham. "So, for me, I want to get it right because when I do, I know that it will inspire others to take the same journey and that really does mean something to me."
The appointment of Pridham is a significant development in what is traditionally a male-dominated sport. ISN Team Manager Kjell Carlstrom underlined Pridham’s credentials: "She has what is needed to be successful: experience and skills. I believe that Cherie will have a positive impact on our team and get the job done."
Directeur Sportif, not Female Directeur Sportif
Emphasising her experience, Pridham said: "My role is Directeur Sportif, not Female Directeur Sportif, and I know that I'll be expected to concentrate on that aspect. I'll be tackling the very same issues as my colleagues – I’ll make the same mistakes and have the same successes too."
Pridham comes to ISN with an established and significant record of directing male riders in the sport, albeit not at WorldTour level. After a successful 15-year career as a pro rider (cut short by a hit-and-run accident in 2006), Cherie pivoted her career towards managing and directing.
In 2011, she became one of the first female sports directors in Britain, with local team Raleigh, where she served as manager and director. A few years later, she became the owner, leading the team to victories in races all over the globe. Pridham also gained experience on the track, managing three track world champions.
"I have dealt with male cyclists all my life, so I do not see the move as any different in that regard," said Pridham confidently.
ISN team owner Sylvan Adams: "Cherie has the distinction of being the first female sports director on a men's WorldTour squad. She has earned this position through her experience and success in various roles on both women's and men's teams.
"Cherie is a true professional and will have an opportunity to work with the very best riders in the pro peloton. I welcome her to Israel Start-Up Nation. I’m very excited for the coming season."
The Rouleur team can confirm that this appears to be a (rather overdue) first in the WorldTour.